By: Eric Little – Seven Ranges Radio
Since week five is apparently a popular bye week, with four area schools out of action this week, let’s take this time and space to address another issue popping up: the difference between opinion rankings and the official SSAC standings (and judging by the comments section on the website and social media postings of those rankings, some clarity should be given.. On the rankings. Strictly the rankings. Nothing more. Honest).
For the first few weeks after the first official SSAC rankings, many fans get hung up on and bent out of shape over the discrepancy between the two. The SSAC rankings will, by the end of the season, be the determining factor to decide playoff berths. Those are determined by the records of the teams involved and the relative strength of the teams they’ve played.
For instance, when your team wins…they get points for every victory of their defeated opponents. Bonus points are awarded if your team defeats a team of a higher classification. This rewards schools that have played difficult schedules and defeated enough quality opponents on that schedule. It’s a pretty fair system that’s worked remarkably well for a number of years. There’s no denying the eventual importance of these standings, but for right now, they don’t mean a lot.
The opinion polls (like the MetroNews Power Rankings) are the rankings of the media members that cover high school sports on a regular basis. In other words, regardless of points or even the results of a bad night or two, these polls attempt to determine which teams are REALLY the best in the state. Because, if you think there AREN’T 2-2 teams that are better than some unbeatens, you’re only kidding yourself.
The confusion with all this comes from the early rankings. The first official SSAC rankings come out before Week 4’s action and with such a small sample size of games (only two, for some teams), these rankings are often skewed. For instance, a team that might be 4-0 or 3-1 or 2-1 through two weeks might have been boosted by weaker opponents or bye weeks and often, both. I call this phenomenon “Fools’ Gold”.
Much like Fools’ Gold, a high ranking this early in the season just isn’t the real thing. If you want a true indicator of which teams are REALLY the best in the state, stay with the opinion polls a little longer. If you want to see your school’s program boosted by a ranking that may (or may not) be artificially inflated, go that route. You’re free to do so.
I could write a book on the effects of this phenomenon and some of the reasons why it’s not a bad idea for many programs to grasp for a little Fools’ Gold every once in awhile.
But, we’ll get back to the on-field action now. All games set for 7:30 p.m. Friday, unless otherwise noted:
Marietta, Ohio (3-1) at Parkersburg (0-3)
Parkersburg High gave it their best effort, tied with Capital after one quarter and down just 14 points at the end of the first half, but fell 49-21 to defending state champion Capital. For the Big Reds, Bradley Craig connected with Karson Snyder for a pair of touchdown strikes. But even with an improved defensive effort this season, the Big Reds were no match for the mighty Cougars.
But now, the Big Reds move into a much more manageable stretch of their season that should allow Parkersburg to begin building momentum and putting wins in their ledger. That starts this Friday when the Big Reds welcome the Marietta, Ohio Tigers to Stadium Field – a rare team that has the distinction of playing a Class AAA foe just a couple weeks after losing to Class A Williamstown.
The Tigers defend the pass well, but a Class AAA offense should be a little too much for Marietta to handle. Marietta throws the ball well, but veteran assistant coaches – and newcomers to Don Reeves’s staff – Jon Bolen and Mike Dawson, have come on board to steady the ship on the defensive side of the ball. This team limited Huntington to 28 points and stayed competitive with much better teams for much of the last three weeks. This week, though, is the one where the fruits of Parkersburg’s labor really shine through.
Calhoun County (4-0) at Tyler Consolidated (2-2) (7:00)
Tyler Consolidated head coach Ryan Walton probably couldn’t make the Statue of Liberty disappear, but he certainly had a couple David Copperfield-like tricks up his sleeve in Thursday’s loss to St. Marys. The Silver Knights scored late in the first half on a hook and ladder play to get back into a game they trailed 22-0 at one point. Eventually, Tyler Consolidated pulled to within two scores at the half before picking up a 49-14 loss to the Blue Devils.
This week, they’ll run into the unbeaten Calhoun County Red Devils – 4-0 after their 45-28 win over Tygarts Valley. For the Red Devils, Casey Ritchie ran for four scores and threw for two others. But Calhoun County is the perfect embodiment of the Fools’ Gold idea mentioned above. Which works for them just fine. For a program that’s been down for a few years, can you imagine the excitement that’s built up in the community based on a 4-0 start to a football season? When you haven’t tasted success in a while, Fools’ Gold can taste pretty nice.
For a program that’s also struggled with numbers, Fools’ Gold can also boost interest in football among students at a school that has plenty of good athletes. A year or two of Fools’ Gold can help build the numbers in your program before you wean yourselves off the milk and take a bite out of meatier opponents. The Silver Knights got some good news out of last week’s loss – the return of Jace Reed to the lineup for the first time this season.
Back at full strength, expect the Silver Knights to defend home field and begin a playoff run in earnest. This game can be heard locally on WXCR FM (92.3 FM) and online at www.wxcr.com.
Paden City (1-2) at River, Ohio (3-1) (7:00)
Paden City fell behind early before a rally fell short in a 34-28 loss to Bridgeport, Ohio. For Bridgeport, it was their first win of the year – making it an especially bitter loss for the Wildcats. River comes in off a tough 40-12 loss to Magnolia. The Pilots were held to just a couple Luke Isaly touchdown runs. For the Pilots, this should be a good week to right the ship because they’re already off to a good start with wins against three quality Ohio opponents.
Ravenswood (0-3) at Williamstown (3-1)
After falling behind 6-0 at the beginning of the night, Williamstown scored 21 straight points and pulled away after a late Clay-Battelle surge in a 35-20 win over the Cee-Bees. Trenton Tallman ran for three Yellowjacket touchdowns and Mason Adkins added two others. This year’s Yellowjacket squad will clearly be a run-first team, though don’t discount Tallman’s ability to throw the football when needed.
This week, the winless Ravenswood Red Devils come in off a bye week that still probably didn’t give them enough time to prepare for the defending Class A state champs. A young Ravenswood team has struggled to get things going after a Cinderella playoff run last year. For Williamstown, it’ll be one last chance to right some wrongs before next week’s rematch of the 2014 Class A State Title Game in St. Marys.
Braxton County (3-1) at Roane County (3-1)
If the folks at Braxton County High School had to buy some new lights for their football field’s scoreboard this week, it won’t be a total shock. The Eagles hung 65 points on the Ritchie County Rebels on a night where they scored early and often. They’ll face a Roane County team that’s also shown a propensity to score in bunches this year.
The Raiders have scored more than 40 points in all three wins and 36 in their only loss of the season. Tyler May ran for 172 yards and three touchdowns for the Raiders last week against Webster County in a win. He also threw for two other scores. Don’t be surprised if these two teams combine to score more than a hundred points this week.
Federal Hocking, Ohio (0-4) at Wahama (1-3)
Parkersburg Catholic (0-4) at Valley Fayette (0-4)
Ritchie County (0-4) at Doddridge County (0-3)