A few thoughts on high school football as we move into the final weekend of the regular season with the inaugural statewide playoffs looming in November:
Victory at a price
The Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association included a margin of victory in the power ranking formula used to determine which 16 teams in each of the eight divisions would advance to the playoffs. However, it was capped at 14 points so teams weren’t rewarded for accumulating it.
But MOV has created situations where coaches are forced to choose between chasing points because it’s in their team’s best interest or calling it a game in the name of sportsmanship.
That was the case last Saturday as West Boylston played two games deep in Lunenburg territory, even though the Blue Knights were out of time and trailed off with a touchdown with less than a minute. to play. Coach Mike Ross first asked his quarterback to kneel before changing course.
“Well you know it’s that stupid 14 point rule,” Ross said after the Lions 21-14 win. “Do I personally like the rule? No, but that’s the rule. So we lose points if we don’t get to 14. ”
And while that’s not just one thing, there’s no doubt that failing to hit that 14-point threshold played a role in West Boylston falling to fifth place when the last MIAA Division 7 power rankings were released on Tuesday.
FOLLOWING: High School Football Power Rankings Released: Where Does Your School Stand In The State Playoff Race?
It should be noted that Lunenburg, who moved up from one spot to 15th despite losing, accepted the Lions’ approach for points well.
“Our job is to stop their team and you will never hear me complain about that,” said coach Anthony Nalen. “And especially with the new format and the playoffs, you have to score points.”
Still, someone has to find out, so it’s a choice Ross and his fellow coaches don’t have to make.
The schedule does not help Algonquin
There is a strange division in the power rankings, one that could create two schools of thought when it comes to the importance of calendar strength depending on which division you find yourself in.
Forty of the 64 teams (62.5%) in Divisions 5-8 that would advance to the playoffs if played today have a negative rating for their opponents. So they didn’t play meat grinder programs but it worked well for them.
That number is 2 out of 64 (3.1%) in Divs 1-4, which means that if you don’t have a stacked schedule, the only meaningful game you’ll play in November will be Thanksgiving.
But some things are beyond a team’s control. Take the example of Algonquin Regional.
It’s 6-1 and he’s having his best season in years, but he’s ranked 21st (out of 34 teams) in Division 2 and a long shot to make the playoffs even though he beats Wachusett, who is also 6-1, Friday.
Algonquin’s non-conference schedule was quite competitive as it included Doherty and Nashoba. The problem is, these two perennial powers have unusually average to poor seasons.
That, combined with the fact that four of Algonquin’s wins were less than 14 points, was a drag on its rated power.
Bubble teams awaiting power calculations
There are going to be questions and expectations this weekend for a handful of Central Mass teams. which are on the bubble, because it is almost impossible to determine the ranking on your own.
These include Shrewsbury, which ranks 16th in Division 1; Marlborough, 17th in Division 4; Maynard, 15th in Division 5; Saint-Paul, 19th in Division 6; and Lunenburg and Littleton, 15th and 17th respectively, in Division 7.
Winning will obviously go a long way in helping their cause, but there is another factor that could come into play for Marlborough and St. Paul.
There are three teams ahead of Marlborough and five ahead of St. Paul that have yet to win three games, the minimum necessary for the playoffs. If those teams cannot meet this requirement, they will automatically be declared ineligible, allowing the Panthers, Knights and others below them to advance.
Pack lunch – this trip is going to take a while
Here are some of the more interesting opening matches that would take place in terms of round-trip distance and travel time if the standings held up:
West Bridgewater to Wahconah (294 miles, 5 hours, 30 minutes)
Pittsfield to Hudson (228, 4:00)
Greenfield to Amesbury (210, 4:00)
Nantucket to Clinton (280, approximately nine hours, ferry and transfer included).
Contact Rich Garven at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @RichGarvenTG.