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Monday, October 31, 2005

Knights' win takes math out of playoff equation

Knights' win takes math out of playoff equation

You will rarely ever hear of a journalist that was a math major in college. And this sports writer is no different.

My University of Kentucky journalism degree came with no math, algebra or calculus credits attached thanks to a surprising qualifying score on the math portion of the ACT college placement test that exempted the most basic university math requirements. And it's a good thing for someone who once skated by with a C- in high school Algebra II.

But some of those college math classes may have come in handy when trying to calculate high school football ratings for potential playoff berths. But in spite of personal mathematical inadequacies a few scenarios seem clear as we enter the last week of the West Virginia high school football season.

Cabell Midland's victory Friday in their season finale against Riverside was enough to clinch at least the 16th and final Class AAA playoff berth. The Knights (6-4) will improve to 15th in the ratings released Tuesday by the West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission and only Princeton can catch the Knights of the teams rated lower than 15th.

"I feel certain with the bonus points from Capital and Hurricane last week that we will finish 13th, 14th or somewhere around there," said Cabell Midland coach Chip McMillian. "Anything can happen once you get into the playoffs. I mean, Hurricane beat Nitro, and now Nitro beat Beckley. I think there is a lot of parity this year and anything can happen."

The Knights can still rise as high as No. 13 by passing Hurricane (6-3) and Parkersburg South (6-3), but both teams can keep that from happening by winning on Friday. The Knights should be rooting for Nitro (8-1) against Parkersburg South, Poca (3-6) against Hurricane and Riverside (4-5) against Princeton. Wins by Huntington (2-7) against St. Albans (5-4), Capital (6-3) against South Charleston (7-2) and Spring Valley 0-9) against John Marshall (7-2) can help improve the Knights' final rating but won't help improve their final playoff position unless Princeton wins.

"We are going to have to play a big team -- either Morgantown (10-0), Jefferson (9-0), Nitro (8-1) or Beckley (8-1) -- so we have to get ready and have two weeks to prepare," said Josh Turley, a senior linebacker at Cabell Midland. "We're not done."

Wayne (9-0), No. 1 in AA, can clinch the top seed with a win against Logan (5-4) on Friday, but the Pioneers can clinch one of the top two seeds with losses by No. 4 Herbert Hoover (8-1) and No. 3 James Monroe (9-0). It's mathematically possible any of those three teams or No. 2 Weir to gain the top seed.

But the Pioneers are probably a safe probability of clinching one of the top two seeds and home field advantage throughout the playoffs as long as they get help from Poca or Sissonville because they have two guaranteed bonus points from Tolsia playing Chapmanville and Winfield playing Herbert Hoover on Friday. The Pioneers can do no worse than a 11.7 rating, and Weir currently sets at 11.5.

Tolsia (6-3) has clinched no worse than a 13th seed in the playoffs thanks to last week's victory against Winfield and should move up into a tie for eighth place this week with Mount View, whom the Rebels already beat this year and own a head-to-head tiebreaker against. The Rebels could mathematically improve to seventh by beating Chapmanville on Friday and getting help.

The Rebels should root for Winfield against Herbert Hoover, Wahama against Moorefield, Matewan against Fayetteville and Sherman against Roane County on Friday. Magnolia will be one bonus point ahead of Tolsia going into Friday's games but has already completed its schedule.

At least two Class AA teams are assured of making the playoffs with a 5-5 record because only 11 teams have won six games so far and only two more can get their sixth wins on Friday. And defending champion Bluefield (5-4) has clinched a playoff spot with only a nine-game schedule.

That's good news for Logan (5-4), Winfield (5-4) and six other teams that can do no better than 5-5.

In Class A, Hamlin has clinched a playoff spot with eight wins (8-1) and can move up as far as No. 5 by beating Harts on Friday and with losses by Parkersburg Catholic, St. Marys and Calhoun County. No. 3 Buffalo (9-0) still has a chance at home field advantage throughout the playoffs if they can leap frog No. 2 Greenbrier West (10-0) or No. 1 Williamstown (9-0) by beating Valley-Fayette.

All other area team have been mathematically eliminated

For further analysis, contact your high school o r college math professor.

WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN: The Fairland Dragons (2-8) were part of their fair share of high-scoring games, but in a 38-32 loss to South Point (6-4) on Friday the two teams failed to convert extra point attempts after nine of 11 touchdowns. That's at least nine more points that could have added to the combined
70-point total.

Fairland missed two kicks and failed to convert two passing 2-point conversions. South Point missed three kicks, one run and one pass. Fairland was third in the Ohio Valley Conference in scoring at 25.7 points per game but allowed 33.9 points a game, second most in the OVC.

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