Oscar Smith vs. Highland Springs 2019 (Photo: Joe Barnes/recruit757)
The districts have released the spring football schedule internally
by Andy Hilton, recruit757
In a normal year, we would have a ten-game regular season followed by five weeks of playoffs for the teams advancing all the way to the state championship game.
This year will be different. Not only do we not have fall football, but we’ll get an abbreviated season.
Last week, many coaches received a schedule for their proposed spring season. The new six-game schedule is set to leave a lot of people unhappy.
As an example, the Southeastern District has ten schools and that makes for a tidy schedule of one game out-of-district and a game against each district foe to get to ten.
In the spring of 2021, the schedule will include only six games, and they’re all against district opponents. That means an unbalanced schedule and there will be complaining.
Who has to play the top teams and who gets a pass on any or all of them? Looking at the SED, you’d consider Oscar Smith, Indian River, Deep Creek, King’s Fork and Nansemond River as the top half of the district. They were the top half in 2019.
Would and up-and-coming team want to skip as many of those top teams as they could? You bet. Would the top teams want a cupcake schedule? Probably not.
One issue with the unbalanced schedule is that the VHSL post-season seedings will still be determined by power ratings. Because only six games will figure into the final power ratings, the data is going to be unreliable at best. The playoff field is cut in half, so only four teams per region will advance. Every team will want to go 6-0 but it’s possible a 6-0 team could get left out.
If a team goes undefeated, they’re going to need their opponents to win as many games as possible. 6-0 will be easier and more common than the usual season’s 10-0.
In the spring of 2021, strength of schedule will come into play more. If five or more teams in a region go undefeated, an undefeated team could be out of luck. An opponent’s win-loss record is going to carry a lot of weight, and it’s going to depend on who they’ve played as well. Since every schedule will be incomplete and in-district only, there will be no absolute proof that the power ratings system accurately gives us the best teams.
With a small sample size, the schedule is really going to be a toss-up. If I’m expecting my team to win a state championship this year, I want to play every top team we can play in the district. Going 6-0 and missing the playoffs because of your opponents’ win-loss record would be a tough way to end up sitting out the postseason.
– Andy Hilton