Well, that was swell.
The year’s great COVID-19 experiment on the state’s high school football season has been turbulent with the number of cancellations, which brought on the late amended playoff stipulations that allowed any and every school to make the postseason — some doing so for the first time since the ancient of days, and others for the first time.
Some of those wouldn’t have been in the playoff zip code if not for COVID. I’m wondering if they are grateful.
Some, as obvious by the byes taken, didn’t care.
In all, teams seeded first or second in their district were 29-0 in games played. Four were one-possession games, the others blowouts.
Muskogee was one of those.
Granted, it’s been a tough, injury-racked year for the Roughers. I’d bet no other team lost three prime college recruits to injury. Then, going to Midwest City after no practice for two weeks, more or less, compounded the problem. No doubt coaches and staff at Indian Bowl are eager to get to 2021, hoping the only masks on the sidelines are bolted to the helmets and that Contact Tracing High isn’t on the schedule.
On to the 3 vs. 6 and 4 vs. 5 matchups, the favorites won 66 of 80. Fair enough — maybe there’s an argument that with teams missing games in the middle of the pack, to take just the customary top four teams from each district into the postseason might have been unfair.
In Class B, where districts were six-team groupings, the top two teams were given byes. The 3 vs. 6s and 4 vs. 5s went 15-1 for the higher seeds, with five byes due to withdrawals.
But overwhelmingly, the 1 vs. 8s and 2 vs. 7s showed why basketball having the one-game district playoffs involving the worst of the worst just isn’t a playoff, but an added punishment to an already tough season.
Locally, no lower seed moved on.
The only real winner in this, save for the very few teams that proved worthy, was the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association, which found a way to get an extra week of playoff revenue. All ticket sales go to the OSSAA. That doesn’t do much for the schools, like Muskogee, who lost home game revenue. For the Roughers, that was three games worth, a sizable hit to the athletic budget.
At Hilldale, where the second-seeded Hornets took on a seventh-seeded and winless Miami team, the 42-0 score didn’t reflect accurately the ugliness of the contest. It seemed something the Hornets were just trying to get through, kind of like beating up on someone half their size. The fans didn’t seem interested either, about two-thirds of the home side empty, and who could blame them, especially the non-relatives.
It might have taken some math consultants to do the work, but it would have been nice to see the governing body of prep sports in the state give back a percentage of gates to teams based on number of lost home games during the year.
But, what’s done is done.
Let’s just hope that it’s done for the last time.
Arkansas, for example, lets everyone into its postseason.
Texas, which sends four in up to 32 districts per class, doesn’t.
Be more like Texas, Oklahoma.
More to the point, just stick to who you’ve been.