Football: Division II playoff picture still not clearby Andy Morales on Oct. 13, 2013, under Sports
We can see the state playoffs on the horizon but we still can’t make out what teams will be there and, this time, the coaches are to blame. And that’s a good thing.
I’ve been told stories from some old-timers that the playoff brackets used to be drawn up in a closed room with no rules, regulations or science behind the picks – only the “gut” feelings of the people chosen to make the selections. Teams with “not so good” records somehow got into the playoffs over more deserving teams.
The AIA slowly moved over to power points with all teams thrown into one large pot and the top 16 teams were selected based on points in their division and in their conference but there really wasn’t a “division” involved because teams didn’t have to play teams in their division.
Teams started running up the score and scheduling “lesser” teams because they did not understand the power-point formula and the AIA listened and created sections rather than divisions and “conferences” became “divisions.” Confusing? Not really.
There are now six Divisions (D-VI is 8-man football) in Arizona and each Division is made up of 5 to 7 Sections based on the number of teams in the Division. The added bonus was the promise that the top team in each Section would get an automatic berth to the state playoffs – not based on points or won-loss record but on how they finished against each other.
Now teams cannot purposely escape playing all the teams in their section. That is a good thing. But, there are not enough teams in each Section to fill a 10-game season so teams have to play 3 to 5 “Freedom Games” to fill the void. The result? A team that finishes with 5 losses can win their section and get an automatic berth – technically knocking more deserving teams out of the playoffs.
Take Cienega for example. Cienega is currently 2-5 with three games remaining. In any other year the Bobcats would be completely out of the playoff picture but this is a new system. Four of their losses were Freedom Games – they do not count towards sectional standings using the terminology adopted by the AIA for getting the automatic berth: “Based on section standings…”
If Cienega beats Nogales, Desert View and Sahuaro they will finish 4-1 in Division II/Section 2 and they will be crowned section champs (Combined with Buena losing) because they would have beaten Sahuaro (currently 1-0 in the Section). Cienega would have a record of 5-5.
The “Wild Card” in D-II is Section 4 where Yuma Cibola (2-4) is the top team in the section but are ranked 25th. The winner of Section 4 will likely bump a more deserving team from the playoffs at this point.
Let’s look at the playoff picture for team projected to have a chance from Southern Arizona in Division II:
Division II/Section 2
Sahuaro (6-1) 2-0 in the section.
Games remaining: Buena, Sunnyside and Cienega.
Playoff status: Enough seeding points to make the 16-team bracket regardless of section play but has to win at least one more to be sure. Controls own destiny and wins section if they win out.
Buena (4-3) 2-0
Games remaining: Sahuaro, Nogales and Sunnyside.
Playoff status: Game against Sahuaro next Friday might decide section championship, making it the obvious game of the week.
Sunnyside (4-3) 1-1
Games remaining: Desert View, Sahuaro and Buena.
Playoff status: On the edge with loss to Cienega. Needs to win out to win section or at least two more to get in the top 16.
Cienega (2-5) 1-1 and Nogales (3-4) 0-2
Division II/Section 5
Salpointe (7-0) 2-0
Games remaining: Vista Grande, Ironwood Ridge and Tucson.
Playoff status: Enough seeding points to make the 16-team bracket regardless of section play. Controls own destiny with The Ridge and Tucson High needing to beat them.
Tucson High (6-1) 2-0
Games remaining: Rincon, Mountain View & Salpointe.
Playoff status: Should be enough seeding points to make the 16-team bracket regardless of section play. Controls own destiny after beating The Ridge. They win the section if they win out.
Ironwood Ridge (5-2) 1-1
Games remaining: Mountain View, Salpointe & Vista Grande.
Playoff status: Should be enough seeding points to make the 16-team bracket regardless of section play depending on the Section 4 results. Has to win out and hope Tucson loses twice to win the section..
Mountain View (4-3) 1-1
Games remaining: Ironwood Ridge, Tucson & Rincon.
Playoff status: On the edge and need Corbin Gouby back in their lineup. If they win out they are in the 16-team bracket. Salpointe would have to lose twice to win the section – highly unlikely.