Tuesday, September 15th, 2009
Nonconference schedule tells the future with the postseason
By Bruce Monnin
While the high school football season is 10 weeks long, the most important part of the schedule for area conferences occurs in the first week or two of the season.
During conference play, half of the conference teams win and half lose during each week. It is during the nonconference games that the Western Buckeye League and Midwest Athletic Conference have the opportunity to increase (or decrease) their overall winning percentage, and with it the pool of computer points available to the teams in the league.
With its nine-game conference schedule, the WBL teams completed the nonconference season portion of their schedules during week one. Two years ago, the WBL went 0-10 during the first week and only earned two playoff spots. Last year the WBL still had a losing record, but improved the nonconference mark to 3-7. This resulted in three WBL playoff spots, though Defiance just barely qualified by winning the tiebreaker for the final spot in region 10.
This year the WBL also went 3-7, with wins coming from Elida, Lima Bath and Ottawa-Glandorf. This seems to indicate that the WBL will be right on the borderline between two and three playoff spots again this season. As the only undefeated team in the WBL, Ottawa-Glandorf is the early conference favorite to garner one of these postseason invitations.
Two years ago the MAC went 6-4, its worst nonconference mark in many years. This helped result in the conference earning only two playoff spots, the MACs lowest total since the playoffs expanded to eight teams per region in 1999. Last year the MAC improved to 9-1 the first week, and repeated that result in week two for a total nonconference record of 18-2. This led to four MAC teams qualifying for the playoffs last year.
The MACs 15-5 non-conference record this year is somewhere between the last two years. The conference should feel good about getting at least three and possibly four teams into the playoffs. The conference already seems to have split into two halves after last week, as the five winners in the first week of conference play (Coldwater, St. Henry, Anna, Delphos St. John's and Marion Local) have a head start toward the playoffs with 3-0 records to date.
Here is a listing of how all the MAC and WBL teams stand in the computer rankings after the third week. As always, the computer points for the three regions involving most area teams can be found at http://www.nktelco.net/bdmonnin/football.htm
Team - Ranking (Computer Points)
Wapakoneta - 20th (1.67)
The Redskins are the lone WBL team still in Division II this year. This is not the strongest looking region, with only 11 teams having a winning record.
St. Marys - 9th (4.52)
Elida - 16th (2.03)
Defiance - 22nd (1.67)
Celina - 25th (0.00)
Lima Shawnee - 25th (0.00)
The Roughriders are the only one of the five WBL teams in this region to currently have a winning record. Again, less than half the teams in this region (13 out of 31) have a winning record after three weeks.
Ottawa-Glandorf - 2nd (5.88)
Van Wert - 19th (2.07)
Ottawa-Glandorf is the lone undefeated WBL team, and the Titans are rewarded by being one of the two WBL teams currently in the top eight places in their region.
Lima Bath - 8th (4.07)
Kenton - 12th (3.67)
Both 2-1 WBL teams in this region are starting out in the playoff hunt, though neither has beaten a team which currently has a winning record.
Coldwater - 1st (6.45)
St. Henry - 3rd (6.13)
Anna - 5th (5.05)
Versailles - 7th (4.33)
Parkway - 28th (0.00)
This is usually one of the toughest regions in the state to earn a playoff berth, and the addition of Coldwater this year will not make the region any easier. Four of the top eight teams in this region are from the MAC, a situation that will not last as these teams start to beat up on each other in conference play (and other teams in the region emerge unscathed from their conferences). Coldwater, St. Henry and Anna are the top three teams in his region in secondary points, which generally means they defeated more difficult opponents. This is usually the best early-season predictor of which team will earn playoff spots seven weeks from now.
Delphos St. John's - 1st (5.73)
The defending Division VI state champions do not look to face a lot of challengers for a playoff spot in this region as long as the Blue Jays fair reasonably well in the MAC. Winning three of their last seven games might be good enough.
Marion Local - 4th (5.00)
New Bremen - 13th (1.92)
Minster - 16th (1.62)
Fort Recovery - 19th (1.17)
Marion Local is looking good as one of the only 12 teams with winning records in this region, not to mention the points the Flyers hope to gain when their week two Canadian victim starts their real season next week. New Bremen, Minster and Fort Recovery are going to need to pull off some MAC upsets to overcome losses to nonconference opponents who are now ahead of them in the region rankings.