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Thursday, October 27, 2005

Who's in, who's not: Playoff formula's explained

for the Daily Telegraph

BLUEFIELD - Local high school football is shaping up for an interesting finish.

Teams like James Monroe, Mount View, Richlands and Graham are in, all that's in question is where they'll play a first round game. Schools like Princeton, Tazewell and Montcalm need to win and might need help from their opponents.

Playoff posturing has led to plenty of talk about teams and their ratings, leading many to ask how the teams are ranked. Here is how it is done.

The West Virginia points system awards points for beating a team (the higher the class, the more points) and then giving a “bonus point” for every victory the defeated opponent has collected in its class or higher. The total points are then divided by games played to get a final rating. The top 16 in each of the three Mountain State classes make the playoffs field, with the top eight teams hosting a first-round game.

The Virginia system is similar, with a scale of points divided among the state's six divisions. Teams also gain points if they lose, though, based on the classification of their opponent. Virginia teams get two points for every victory procured by a defeated opponent in any class, and get one point for every win picked up by a victorious opponent.

Ratings are determined the same as West Virginia, by dividing total points by games played. From there, the top four teams in each regional division make the playoffs, but predicting the final pairings can get complicated because of automatic berths granted to district winners.

On the West Virginia side, No. 3 James Monroe (8-0) has two games remaining, including this week's huge showdown at No. 8 Bluefield (5-3). The Mavericks could possibly move as high as second in the WVSSAC Class AA ratings by winning out, and will likely still host by going 1-1. Bluefield will probably stay put at eighth with a win, but would have to travel with a loss.

No. 7 Mount View (6-2), which finishes with two games on the road, travels to Oak Hill (2-6) this week. The McDowell County needs wins against the Red Devils and then Big Creek to stay at home in the first round.

In Class AAA, the Princeton Tigers (6-2) are tied for 16th after losing to Capital last Friday in double overtime. This week, PSHS travels to Spring Valley (0-8) before visiting Riverside (4-4) in the season finale. Even with two victories, a road game would be likely for the Tigers.

In Class A, the Montcalm Generals (7-2) have more than doubled their school record for wins, but are tied at No. 17. The Generals need a win against Greater Beckley Christian (2-5) and some help from the field to make it.

Across the state line, all five Southwest District teams have a chance to get into the postseason.

Richlands (8-0, 3-0 SWD) is the top team in Group AA and is guaranteed at least a tie for the district title. The Blue Tornado will settle that this weekend at district mate Carroll County (7-1, 2-0). Graham (6-2, 2-1) is a solid No. 2 in the division as they prepare to face Virginia High (3-5) Friday night, leaving a home playoff date as a strong possibility.

The Tazewell Bulldogs (4-4, 0-3) are third, and play a district matchup at No. 4 Grundy (2-5, 0-3). The winner of that should be able to get the third playoff spot in Division 3, although six teams are vying for two spots. The SWD winner and the Highlands District winner (likely Virginia High) earn automatic berths into the postseason.

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