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Thursday, November 3, 2016

FOOTBALL: Week 11 Playoff Analysis

At this hour, 17 Virginia High School League teams in our area can reserve next Friday on their calendars, because they'll have football to play. Here's the latest on who's in, who's out and who has work to do heading into Week 11.

6A SOUTH:

IN: Manchester, Thomas Dale, James River, Cosby
WORK TO DO: CD Hylton, Forest Park

This sub-region of eight teams from Conferences 3 and 4 breaks down easily. Manchester is fighting with Colonial Forge for the #1 seed. Thomas Dale, who does have a "Hail Mary" chance at #1, and a fighting chance at #2 should Manchester or Colonial Forge fall Friday, needs to win over Matoaca to ensure at least the #3 seed. A loss puts Riverbend #3 and the Knights at #4. James River, though two points out of fifth, will have a tough time moving out of sixth, not because of having to face L.C. Bird, but because the team in front of them, Freedom-Prince William, must face the aforementioned Colonial Forge squad that wants #1 back. Cosby is in the postseason, either at #7 or #8, because the loser of the game between #7 CD Hylton and #9 Forest Park cannot earn enough extra rider points to overcome Cosby, even if they lose to Manchester. Eighty percent of Chesterfield schools in Class 6A get to the playoffs, a pretty good mark. Now, when all shakes out, do any have to play each other in the first round??

5A NORTH:

IN: Patrick Henry
WORK TO DO: Atlee

While, mathematically, Patrick Henry could ascend to a #5 or #6 seed with a Tomato Bowl win Friday on our Game of The Week, it is incredibly unlikely. So, our focus is on more attainable goals, notably, leaving their current #9 seed and moving up to #8 or even #7. The bad news is #7 Patrick Henry of Roanoke, who begin the night 12 points ahead of our local Patriots, is favored against Carroll County. The good news is, Patrick Henry, with a win over Lee-Davis, immediately earns 38 points. PH-Roanoke, with a win, 26. The 12 points are erased. Then it comes down to how many extra points the teams earn from other games involving teams on their schedule. So, PH fans need to root for Carroll County, and, if that doesn't work, Brookville needs to beat Jefferson Forest, Western Albemarle needs to beat Albemarle, Northside needs a win over William Fleming, while locally, Glen Allen needs to beat J.R. Tucker and Mills Godwin needs to handle John Marshall.

BUT, in between, at #8, is North Stafford, four points ahead of Patrick Henry at 247. They face Mountain View, who MUST win to have any hopes of sneaking into the bottom of the sixteen-team tournament bracket. North Stafford only earns 30 points for a win, meaning Patrick Henry, with a win, will clinch the #8 seed regardless of other results, thanks to the automatic five bonus points they'll get from winners between Atlee/Armstrong and Hanover/Henrico, and one point from Varina/Highland Springs. Remember, you get two bonus points for each win a team you defeat earns, and one point for each "non-defeated opponent" who wins. If Patrick Henry and North Stafford both lose, it will come down to other games, as they'll be tied at 268 points. Then the Patriots need Patriot High to beat Battlefield, and Freedom to upset Colonial Forge, or need two of these three teams to win: Caroline, Glen Allen, or Mills Godwin.

Now, for Atlee, in 13th place. If they beat Armstrong, they are in the playoffs. No one outside the top sixteen could catch them, even with a win, when they hit 253 points. They're at 225 now, 24 points come from beating Armstrong, two points from the Hanover/Henrico winner, one point from the Tomato Bowl, then one point if Highland Springs beats Varina. It's 254 if Varina wins. Falls Church, in 14th, can overtake Atlee, but with a win by the Raiders, no one else can. If Fluvanna knocks off Orange, Atlee could move to 12th, but that is as high as they can go. So, the Raiders are in with a win, settling at #12, #13, or #14, meaning a trip to either the #3, #4, or #5 seed in the first round.

5A SOUTH:

IN: Highland Springs, L.C. Bird, Hermitage, Douglas Freeman, Lee-Davis
WORK TO DO: Varina, Matoaca, Henrico
HAVE A CHANCE: Meadowbrook, Deep Run
HAIL MARY: Mills Godwin

First, Highland Springs is one rider point away, if they beat Varina, from the #1 seed in this eight-team sub-region of Conferences 11 and 12. With a win, and guaranteed six points from the winners of the other three Capital District games, the Springers would go to 328 points. That is the maximum number of points that either L.C. Bird, or the winner of Hermitage/Douglas Freeman could achieve. So, if Hermitage win, they clinch. If Norview beats Liberty Christian, now recognized by the VHSL, they clinch. BUT, first they must defeat Varina on the road. It's a huge rivalry game. We know anything can happen, and the Springers remember the crazy circumstances that unfolded in their lone loss so far, an 8-7 defeat to Meadowbrook, who play for their lives tonight.

The Panthers/Rebels winner gains ground on the Skyhawks, who need to defeat James River. To max out at 328 points, L.C. Bird needs Cosby to beat Manchester and Meadowbrook to upset Dinwiddie, plus Thomas Dale beating Matoaca. Douglas Freeman needs James River to win, Midlothian to best Clover Hill and Atlee to beat Armstrong. Hermitage needs Varina, Meadowbrook, Manchester and Deep Run to be victorious.

We know the top four will remain, in some order, the top four. No one underneath them can catch them. Lee-Davis is in the driver's seat in the bottom half, but to clinch the #5 seed, they must beat Patrick Henry. If they lose, they need Varina and Matoaca to lose, and preferably Meadowbrook as well. If Varina loses, they need a Patrick Henry and Thomas Dale win to secure a bid. Matoaca has a huge rivalry game against Thomas Dale, who has clinched a bid in 6A South, big points, and a clinched playoff berth, with a win, but a loss means a fight with Henrico, Deep Run and possibly Meadowbrook for the final two spots. Mills Godwin needs a myriad of things to go right, with Matoaca, Henrico, Meadowbrook and Deep Run all losing. Deep Run fans need to root for Essex to beat Rappahannock, while Henrico fans need a Varina upset win and for J.R. Tucker to best Glen Allen. This sub-region will be the one that gives us the most angst running the numbers Friday night on our "Central Region Now!" live podcast.

4A EAST:

IN: Dinwiddie, Louisa, Monacan, Powhatan

We know the eight seeds in this sub-region of Conferences 19 and 20. It's simple: if the Generals beat Meadowbrook, they clinch the #1 seed, as they'll get 32 points for the win and six guaranteed bonus points from the results of other Central District games. That would give Dinwiddie 314 points. The best Eastern View, the #2 seed, also 9-0, can do is 312 points. Three-seed Chancellor can't catch the Generals either, but can ascend to the #2 spot if Eastern View slips against Kettle Run, but they are favored. Louisa pins hopes that Chancellor slips with Spotsylvania, which is highly unlikely, so are playing pretty much expecting to be the #4 seed.

Monacan, whose regular season is done, and cannot go higher than fifth. A date in Louisa next Friday is looking highly possible. Powhatan can mathematically take over fifth by a single point, but everything they need must happen, including Midlothian must beat Clover Hill, Hopewell must beat Prince George, George Wythe must best Huguenot Saturday, Charlottesville has to beat Louisa, Western Albemarle must beat rival Albemarle. You get the idea. Conversely, they need Courtland to beat Caroline (probable) and J.R. Tucker to beat Glen Allen (possible). King George seems settled in seventh, though has an outside shot at sixth with a Powhatan loss to Monticello, while Courtland looks to be the team destined to face a 10-0 team in Round One.

3A EAST:

IN: Hopewell, Thomas Jefferson
WORK TO DO: Petersburg, George Wythe

The Blue Devils look to clinch the top seed in their eight-team sub-region (Conferences 26 and 28) with a win over rival Prince George. They earn 32 points with a win, while Brentsville District, the current #2 seed, earns just 26 defeating Culpeper. Beating a 5A school should be enough with a win for Hopewell to stay at Merner Field for awhile. Thomas Jefferson could finish with a winning record for the first time in forever, but must beat their former's coach new team, Deep Run, on the road, to do it. They're in either way, and, if Strasburg knocks off William Monroe, the Vikings have a shot to flip with them, get the #4 seed and host next weekend in the first round. Petersburg is in for sure with a victory over 0-9 Colonial Heights, but the Crimson Wave desperately need a win for momentum's sake, starting 2-0, and losers of seven straight. George Wythe, at #7, begins with 163 points, Culpeper at #8 is at 157, while Skyline, on the outside right now at #9 is at 147. The Bulldogs earn just 13 points with a loss, while a Skyline win over Warren County nets them 26. If Warren wins Friday, the Bulldogs enter Saturday's game knowing they are in the postseason, it's just a matter of seeding.

2A EAST:

IN: Goochland, King William
WORK TO DO: Amelia

Goochland is done, with only nine games counting towards the postseason numbers, and must watch social media to see what happens with Stuarts Draft as they face fellow 9-0 Riverheads, who themselves are fighting with Sussex Central for the top seed over in 1A East. Even with a loss, don't be surprised if Stuarts Draft passes the Bulldogs simply due to earning so many points playing an unbeaten team, but they should be no lower than #2, so at least two weeks at home for the Bulldogs. King William wants one week at home, and need a win over rival King & Queen Central and, since their opponent is 0-9, help. The Cavs are #9 now, and need #8 Madison County to fall to current #3 seed Clarke County Friday night to try to slide up a notch and host what is likely to be a first round contest between the two teams, King William and Madison County. The road trip to one, or the other, is 93.8 miles via Route 30, etc. You'd like to be home. Amelia is less than a half-point out of the Top 16, and need to first beat fellow 4-5 Bluestone, who begin the night tied for 14th, but only one point, by average, ahead of Amelia, 16.667 to 15.667. Between them are Nottoway, who face 2-7 Randolph-Henry, and Page County, who plays 2-7 Wilson Memorial. Unless there's an upset in one or both of those games, it seems like it's "win and you're in" for Amelia, with Bluestone being odd man out if that happens.

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