Outsider’s Perspective (by Kevin Trudgeon): We’re talking playoffs?
Posted: October 12, 2012
Much to Jim Mora’s delight, it’s getting to that time of year when we can start talking playoffs — high school football playoffs to be exact.
With the second installment of the VHSL Power Ratings having been released on Monday, the playoff picture is starting to take shape for our local teams.
Used to seed and select teams for the postseason, the Power Ratings dictate where outright district champions are seeded and which remaining teams receive at-large berths.
If the season were to end today, four of our five area teams would be postseason bound. Both Millbrook (currently sixth with 19.8 points) and Sherando (seeded seventh with 19.7 points) would make the 8-team Region II, Division 4 playoffs, while Handley (seeded eighth with 17 points) would grab the last ticket to the Region II, Division 3 dance.
And Clarke County (sitting at ninth with 17.2 points) would see its season continue in the 16-team Region B, Division 2 postseason.
At the current juncture James Wood (stuck in 12th place out of 13 teams in Division 4 with 14.9 points) would be the only local team headed home.
While 80 percent of our local teams making the playoffs might seem like a pretty good number — unless you’re a Colonels fan — a deeper look at the current playoff picture reveals that there is still some work to be done.
Let’s start with the Judges, who barely edged Charlottesville for the eighth and final playoff spot in the latest Division 3 ratings.
A non-district schedule that included perennial playoff contenders Kettle Run, Fauquier and Harrisonburg, as well as West Virginia two-time defending Class AAA state champion Martinsburg, has made for some tough sledding for the Judges, but the real test begins now.
Starting with Saturday’s Homecoming game, Handley will play Sherando, Skyline and Millbrook in consecutive weeks before closing out the season at James Wood. Currently sitting at 2-4, the Judges will probably need to win at least two of their remaining four games to ensure a playoff berth.
The same can be said for Millbrook and Sherando, although both are in a more favorable position with identical 3-3 records in Division 4.
Currently slotted in sixth place, the Pioneers badly need to snap a two-game losing streak with a victory over winless Brentsville tonight. If it can do that, and then follow that up by taking care of business at home against the Colonels, Millbrook would finish no worse than .500 and pretty much guarantee itself a postseason appearance.
Just one spot behind the Pioneers, the Warriors would also benefit from winning at least two of their final four games, especially if they can come out on top in a key matchup.
While a district title and an automatic playoff berth is still the goal for Sherando, a win at home over Liberty — currently seeded eighth in Division 4 and 1.7 points behind the Warriors — on Oct. 19 would go a long way toward securing a spot in the top eight at the end of the regular season.
Clarke County, meanwhile, has the clearest playoff picture, although the Eagles would like to improve their positioning with a few more wins to close out the season.
Sitting in ninth place in Region B, Division 2, Clarke County travels to No. 10 Central tonight before hosting No. 7 Manassas Park next week. With their final two games of the season coming against George Mason and William Monroe (a combined 0-12 on the season), a split of their next two should set the Eagles up for a first round home game.
As for the Colonels, at 1-6 their playoff window may not be completely shut, but they must sweep their remaining three games to have a chance.
There may still be four weeks to go, but no matter what Mora says it’s time to start talking playoffs.
— Kevin Trudgeon is the sports editor at The Winchester Star