Football Playoff Format Is One That Only A Calculator Could Love


November 05, 1990|By PAT O'MALLEY

Get your calculators ready football fans, because we're going to try to figure out which eight teams will make the 4A state playoffs in a system that qualifies teams via advanced calculus and physics rather than the old-fashioned wins-and-losses way.

It's the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association method -- where a misplaced decimal can be more dangerous than a fumble or an interception.

I'm not sure where we should start, but let's try with Severna Park, where Andy Borland and the guys will have the fingers on one hand pushing their calculators and the fingers on the other hand crossed.

A major upset in Prince George's County coupled with Winston Churchill's 13-10 loss to Thomas Wootton in Montgomery County over the weekend has given Severna Park new hopes for gaining a berth without winning its region.

The Falcons (6-2) eliminated Glen Burnie, 31-26, on Friday night for their sixth win, while Old Mill (8-1) destroyed Broadneck (2-7), 35-0.

Severna Park's chances of making postseason play were enhanced when High Point (7-2) was upset by Parkdale (5-4), 17-13, and Churchill (7-2) was nipped by unbeaten Wootton (9-0). But even if Old Mill wins Region IV by taking its final game at Glen Burnie (6-3) Friday night, Severna Park would get a playoff berth, provided the Falcons win at home against arch rival Annapolis (5-4).

Had High Point won as expected, the Eagles would just about have locked up a playoff berth, giving the Prince George's County Region III three playoff teams.

Each of the four region winners gain automatic berths. The next four teams in all regions with the best playoff points average fill out the eight-team field. Either Old Mill or Severna Park will win Region IV, while Randallstown of Baltimore County and Wootton of Montgomery, each at 9-0, are shoo-ins from Region I no matter which one takes the region.

Springbrook of Montgomery County, at 9-0 and the top-ranked team in the Washington Post Top 20, has a lock on Region II. Prince George's County's Oxon Hill, also 9-0 and ranked third in the D.C. metro area, is certain to get a berth from Region III.

If you're counting, that's five teams definitely in. A third team from Region I, Seneca Valley (8-1), has close to 100 playoff points and appears to have a spot reserved along with Region III's Friendly (8-1), although a Friendly loss to unbeaten Oxon Hill this week would make things interesting.

Depending on the bonus points garnered by those vying for the final two berths, Severna Park could slip in by the narrowest of margins by winning its final game and finishing second in the region to Old Mill.

High Point (7-2), despite beating Friendly, 21-7, earlier this season, could be nosed out by Friendly if both finish 8-2. High Point's final game is against lowly Eleanor Roosevelt (2-7) and that would be worth only 10 points. The Eagles blew 12 points when they were upset by Parkdale.

Friendly gained 13 playoff points by defeating Largo this weekend -- eight because Largo is a 4A school, plus five bonus points for its five wins -- and four other bonus points when Annapolis, Parkdale, Northwestern and Crossland all won. Those four were all beaten by Friendly, which goes into the final weekend with 89 playoff points, an average of 9.88 (total points divided by total number of games).

Even if Friendly loses to Oxon Hill as expected, the Patriots could gain enough bonus points on the final weekend to nose out High Point. With eight wins, and if four teams they have beaten each win this week, (which would be worth four points), Friendly should take seventh or eighth place.

The other spot should come from among Severna Park or Old Mill, depending on who finishes second in Region IV, High Point, Winston Churchill or even Frederick (7-2), which is still mathematically alive.

Adding to this most ridiculous points system is Severna Park starting this past weekend with 52.6 points, while High Point had 80.5 and Frederick 68.5, instead of a straight 53, 81 and 69 respectively. In the MPSSAA's bizarre football playoff method, full points are not awarded when they involve a team not playing a full, 10-game schedule.

Thus, we deal in percentages when totaling points before we even begin to divide. It's absolutely insane and almost impossible to understand unless you are a calculus wizard.

The best way I can explain this fiasco as we go into the final weekend is that both Severna Park and Old Mill have to win and hope for the best when they start ringing up the bonus points. But Old Mill could possibly sneak in even if it loses to Glen Burnie.

A lot of "ifs," too many to explain, would enter into it for Old Mill.

So, to be safe, the Pats have got to win.

The most important games to Old Mill and Severna Park this final weekend in terms of bonus points are Broadneck at Queen Anne's on Saturday and Chesapeake at Northeast Friday.

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