That Crazy Playoff Math Gives Severna Park A Berth

SIDELINES

November 12, 1990|By PAT O'MALLEY

Anne Arundel County's best high school football team has made it!

Thanks to neighbor Broadneck, Severna Park is in the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association State Class 4A playoffs as the eighth seed. The county champion Falcons join the 4A, Region IV champs, Old Mill, as our only representatives in football postseason play.

Seeded fourth with its overall 9-1 record, Old Mill will host Thomas S.

Wootton, Montgomery County, (10-0) Friday night at 7.30, while Severna Park, the eighth and final seed, will visit defending state champion Springbrook, Montgomery County, (10-0) Saturday at 1 p.m.

A wild Saturday scenario of upsets produced enough playoff points for the Falcons to join Old Mill in the playoffs. Old Mill had clinched the Region IV title and automatic playoff berth with its 16-7 victory at Glen Burnie (6-4) Friday night while Severna Park was taking the county title with a 34-20 romp over archrival Annapolis.

Severna Park roared through AA county unbeaten at 7-0 including a 21-13 win over Old Mill the third week of the season. Ironically enough it was the Falcons' very first win, and though it came very early in the season, it proved to be their biggest.

Having already dropped the first two games of the season on the road (a 19-13 loss to High Point and one 40-19 to Frederick) Severna Park's playoff chances would have ended in just the third week of the campaign had they lost to Old Mill.

They also would have lost the county title to the Patriots, who didn't lose another game. It was one of those cases where coaches like to say "we play 'em one a time and every game is very important" -- and it was very true.

No matter what the Old Mill faithful say, Severna Park was the county's best team. The bottom line is that they played and the Falcons won. It's that simple.

Going into the final weekend, Severna Park needed help to get in and got it, particularly from its offspring, Broadneck. It was back in 1982 that Broadneck fielded its first football team under Bruce Villwock with a host of players who normally would have gone to Severna Park.

The Bruins had some success at the Class 3A level under Grant Jones but have struggled since moving up to 4A in 1987. In his first season with the big boys, Jones did very well going 7-3, but fell to 4-6 in '88 before giving the reins to Jeff Herrick. For the past two years under Herrick, the Bruins have gone 5-15.

This past Saturday however, the Bruins (3-7) made their biggest contribution to the Class 4A fraternity and daddy Severna Park in particular by upsetting the Queen Lions (5-4) 14-6 over on the Eastern Shore.

"The Broadneck win over Queen Anne's was the bonus point that put us in the playoffs," said Falcons coach Andy Borland, whose team was defeated 10-6 Oct. 26. "Broadneck's win gave us the bonus point we needed to make it by two one-hundreths of a point over Friendly."

Friendly lost its final game Saturday to Region III winner and second-seeded Oxon Hill, a fellow Prince George's school, 32-3.

Severna Park nosed out Friendly (8-2) with a playoff points average of 9.22, compared with 9.20. The average, which is determined by dividing a team's total number of games into its total points earned, is the means by which teams qualify.

To briefly explain what is an absolutely crazy way of qualifying high school football teams for postseason play, higher enrollment teams are worth more points than the smaller schools. The breakdown is eight points for a 4A school, seven for a 3A, six for a 2A and five for a 1A.

What makes football the most confusing of all MPSSAA sports is that bonus points are given for strength of schedule. Football is the only sport that adds bonus points to your playoff points total each time a team your school defeats wins.

So, Broadneck was worth a total of 11 points to Severna Park -- eight for being 4A and three for having three wins, the final coming Saturday.

Also, contributing to the Falcons' cause on Saturday was Frederick (7-3), which was being upset, 22-8, by Class 3A Thomas Johnson (6-4), and perennial playoff team Winston Churchill, Montgomery County, (7-3), which was being eliminated in a 18-0 loss to Springbrook.

What made Severna Park's situation especially confusing was that the Falcons were the only Class 4A team in the state to play a nine-game schedule. Every other team played 10 games, and Severna Park did not get the usual full value on bonus points.

Despite the preseason handicap of one less game, which under normal circumstances would have cost Severna Park a playoff berth, coach Borland kept insisting that things would work out and his kids would be there. It did and they are.

Rather than play Class 2A Northeast, which visited Severna Park the year before and was destroyed, 30-0, in a game that was stopped in the third period after several Eagles were carried off the field, Borland gambled on nine games.

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