Three weeks. The high school football regular season has that much left.
Confess now. How many of you thought we’d even reach this point?
Put a mask on that thought. We push on. Even as numbers of positive tests seem to stay on the rise, when “Contact Tracing High” has won as many games as half the area, and Old Man Winter and his list of bugs comes headed over the horizon, we push on.
Usually at this point of the year, we take a look at the playoff possibilities, calculate the number of win-and-ins, tiebreaker points, and such.
We didn’t have to factor in ol’ CTHS. When it claims a game, it also throws tiebreaker points out the door. And there have been plenty. See this week’s state scores as an example.
To some of us bad with numbers, that’s a good thing.
It all adds up to more questions than answers for the playoff picture at this point.
Here’s what we know. Anything can change significantly up to week nine. That’s because there can still be some overhauls of playoff formats.
A couple weeks ago, in what has become an almost monthly media confab with the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association, executive director David Jackson raised one eye-opening possibility as he says “everything is on the table” going forward: Class 6A could take all its members to the postseason.
I followed up with him a day later and he again admitted it could be a consideration.
In a way it makes applicable sense. Since 6A split into two divisions on the basis of enrollment, there is a bye week for the finalists on Thanksgiving weekend. No other class has this convenience — 5A, 4A, 3A and C all play four straight weeks like a unified 6A used to, and 2A and A go five playoff rounds. So, taking all 16 teams in each 6A division into the playoffs would simply end the Super Bowl-type bye week.
But is it worth it?
That kind of format is the relic of which basketball hangs on to, which makes for some real first-found yawners the OSSAA refers to as “district” championships. Nothing achieved to play for a district championship except OSSAA’s checking account with playoff ticket sales revenue for that mauling.
Yeah, the OSSAA was hurt last year by not getting 10 of its 14 state basketball tournaments in, or for that matter an entire spring’s worth of playoff revenue. I’m sure if you’re a school that has lost two, or maybe more, home game draws, you can relate — but no one is giving you pain relief.
Which last-place teams want Stillwater or for that matter, Bixby? This might force Putnam City West to make up its game with Muskogee in the battle of winless teams in 6AII-2 at the end of this month.
The regular season rule has been can’t make it up, no game. In the playoffs, that won’t apply. So picture this: If the last-place team in 6AII-2 gets a call in week 11 about a massive COVID assault at Stillwater, they could go to the second round with not having won a game on the field.
Looking ahead to week 8, here’s some things to focus on:
• Hilldale and Fort Gibson need wins to enhance their postseason chances. The Hornets host Sallisaw and Fort Gibson hosts Broken Bow next week. A loss and a Fort Gibson loss to Broken Bow would put the Hornets, Tigers and Savages in a three-way tie for third with two games to play. A meeting in week 10 could become a battle for not only the Rock but an extension of a season.
The Hornets would make for a clearer path to a top-two finish by beating the Black Diamonds than the Tigers would by winning, since Fort Gibson still has Poteau and Hilldale. The Hornets have McLain in week nine.
• Wagoner in 4A-3 still must beat Oologah this week, then likely faces an all-the-marbles game with Skiatook in week 10. But someone is going to have to be able to score more than a touchdown, which is the most Wagoner has allowed in any game this season — even with four starters out injured at this point.
• If Eufaula wins at Idabel, the Ironheads would be a game up on everyone close to them in the 2A-6 standings and own head-to-head tiebreakers. Gore is in a similar position atop A-8.
• Midway is unbeaten in C-4, but the Chargers can’t get clarity on a thing most likely week 10 with co-leader Sasakwa.
So kids, mask up, push on, and watch who you’re sitting next to in class. Contact Tracing High is capable of beating anyone in any class.