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Some D-I teams need to win now to make playoffs

Stuttgart's Devon Burton, right, catches an interception over Kaiserslautern's Cedric Ellis in Kaiserslautern, Germany, on Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017. Stuttgart won the game 30-9.

MICHAEL B. KELLER/STARS AND STRIPES

By GREGORY BROOME | STARS AND STRIPES Published: September 28, 2017

Time is already running out to squeeze into frame in the DODEA-Europe Division I football postseason picture.

DODEA-Europe athletics takes a brief hiatus the weekend of Oct. 7. After that, the division’s six teams will have just two more regular-season games to grasp one of four spots in the Oct. 28 semifinals.

That timeline makes the end of September vitally important. In some cases, this weekend’s games are must-win for aspiring playoff participants.

Division I has broken cleanly so far this season with a pair of unbeaten teams in Stuttgart and Wiesbaden, a pair of winless teams in Lakenheath and Vilseck and archrivals Ramstein and Kaiserslautern occupying the middle at 1-1.

Stuttgart can clinch a winning divisional record with a Friday win over Kaiserslautern, a team it handled rather painlessly in this fall’s non-divisional opening game. The Panthers’ toughest remaining test is an Oct. 13 date with Wiesbaden, by which time Stuttgart might have already clinched a playoff berth.

Wiesbaden has a tougher road, with games against Stuttgart and Ramstein waiting on the other side of the idle Oct. 7 weekend. The Warriors could give themselves some room for error by beating Vilseck on Saturday and take a 3-0 mark into the final stretch.

Defending champion Ramstein saw its repeat chances take a hit with a loss to Stuttgart on Sept. 15. But the Royals got right at the expense of winless Vilseck and may recover further Saturday against Lakenheath; Ramstein beat Lakenheath 36-3 to open the season.

While Lakenheath and Vilseck search for a first win - one will get there at least on Oct. 21, when the teams face off in Germany - Kaiserslautern will either distance itself from the Lancers and Falcons or fall into the cellar alongside them. The Raiders face powerhouse Stuttgart on Friday and Ramstein on Oct. 13.

broome.gregory@stripes.com

Twitter: @broomestripes

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