Chieftain Notebook: Chiefs need a LOT of breaks to reach Division II playoffs
LOGAN — When faced with tournament elimination, professional poker players contend that all they need to have a chance at the big money is “a chip and a chair” so
they can keep playing.
While the stakes aren’t worth millions of dollars, of course, that’s about all the Logan Chieftains have going for them when it comes to reaching the post-season Division II playoffs.
Despite a 7-2 record, and going into the final weekend of the regular season in ninth place in the Ohio High School Athletic Association’s DII Region 5 computer ratings (the top eight finishers make the playoffs), the odds are stacked against the Purple & White playing an 11th game this season.
Ninth place is Logan’s lowest ranking of the season. They were in the top two through six games (while starting the season 6-0), but began to gradually slip with losses to Jackson (week seven) and Columbus DeSales (week eight).
This week, the Chiefs fell out of the top eight despite last Friday’s win at Gallia Academy because the Blue Devils had only won one game all season… and that was over winless Warren, whom the Purple & White host tomorrow night in their regular-season finale.
There are six Region 5 teams (Massillon Perry, Worthington Kilbourne, Uniontown Lake, Licking Heights, Youngstown Boardman and Tri-Valley) that Logan cannot pass regardless of what happens over the weekend, and getting past seventh-place Wooster is all but impossible.
Perry and Kilbourne have already clinched playoff berths, according to dependable figures compiled by OHSAA playoffs guru Joe Eitel (joeeitel.com).
The only way Logan plays a game 11 is for eighth-place Mansfield to lose (not to mention tenth-place Massillon Washington and 11th-place Columbus Walnut Ridge) and to basically get just about every possible break in the playoff book.
A new website on the scene this season, “Drew Pasteur’s Fantastic 50” (fantastic50.net) gives the Chiefs a 1 percent chance of getting all those breaks and making the playoffs.
(It does, however, list their chances at beating Warren at 99.5 percent).
At least the Chiefs still have that poker player’s chance; Logan would already be mathematically eliminated in each of the other three Division II regions.
Teays Valley (7-2), whom the Chiefs beat in week two, actually has a higher points average (17.1833 to 16.2833) and also sits ninth in its D2 Region 6.
It’s way too time-consuming to get deep into the numbers, but in order to achieve a maximum computer average of 19.45 points (as per Eitel), Logan needs to win Friday night (Warren won’t be helpful when it comes to picking up any second-level points) and have all the following scenarios play out:
• Shadyside (3-6) to defeat River Valley (7-2). With a win, Shadyside (playing at home) actually has a chance at making the playoffs in Division VII Region 25 with a 4-6 record. River Valley is probably in line to reach the post-season in Division V win or lose.
• Nelsonville-York (1-8) to defeat Athens (5-4): For the most part, this game is a wash since Logan has defeated both teams, but the Chiefs would achieve an extra point if D5 N-Y beats D3 Athens. The Buckeyes, however, have lost eight-straight games for the first time in decades.
• Gallipolis (1-8) to defeat Jackson (8-1): Highly, highly unlikely. Jackson is playing for an outright SEOAL championship and hopes to somehow score a home Division III playoff game. The Ironmen have clinched a playoff berth but are balanced precariously in fourth place in D3 Region 9 and, like the Chiefs last week, will not get much of a computer-points payout by beating the Blue Devils.
• Teays Valley (7-2) to defeat Logan Elm (6-3): The Vikings are playing for an outright Mid-State League Buckeye Division championship as well as for their post-season lives. Their situation is similar to that of the Chiefs except that beating a six-win Braves team might just be enough to propel the Vikings to the post-season.
• Meigs (6-3) to defeat Alexander (8-1): The Marauders still have a mathematical chance at reaching the playoffs in Division IV Region 14 because they would score a boatload of points by knocking off Alexander. Meanwhile, the Spartans — coached by Logan graduate and former Chieftain quarterback Alex Penrod — have clinched a playoff berth (a Division V Region 17 home game, in fact) and are seeking to win the TVC Ohio Division championship outright. They clinched a tie for the division title for the first time in school history two weeks ago. Meigs can tie Alexander for the TVC Ohio title with a win.
• Cambridge (3-6) to defeat Byesville Meadowbrook (8-1): The Bobcats have been competitive, but Meadowbrook is seeking its first-ever post-season playoff berth and desperately needs this win to keep its Division IV Region 13 hopes alive.
Even if all these scenarios play out — and no less than two of them probably won’t — the Chiefs still need lots of other help, such as a Mansfield (7-2) loss to visiting Mansfield Madison (5-4), a Massillon Washington (4-5) loss at Canton McKinley (6-3) and a Walnut Ridge (6-3) loss to visiting Columbus Independence (6-3).
And still, even should all three of those teams lose, teams that Mansfield, Massillon Washington and Walnut Ridge have already defeated have to lose most of their games this weekend.
Obviously, you can only control your own playoff destiny and not that of other teams. Going into Friday night, three Logan opponents (Gallipolis, Nelsonville-York and Warren) are a combined 2-25. The combined record of the seven teams Logan has defeated is 26-38 (a .406 winning percentage) while Jackson and DeSales are a combined 16-2 (.889).
“If you look at how they traditionally play, we’re looking at seven to 14 more wins between them,” Logan coach Billy Burke pointed out. “But that’s stuff you cannot control. You can dwell on that all you want and drive yourselves crazy, or just know that if we had taken care of business (by beating Jackson and/or DeSales) we wouldn’t have to worry about how many wins everybody else got.”
While mathematically possible, a playoff berth is just about improbable. The Chiefs still have a poker chip and a seat at the table… but they’re about to go all in against an opponent that flopped quad aces.
More records: In addition to setting a new school single-season record for touchdown receptions (15) last week, Isaiah Smith has 865 reception yards — just 29 yards off the school single-season record — and last week set a school record by catching a pass in his 25th consecutive game.
Quarterback Lane Little has spread around his single-season record 27 TD passes. Eight different players, including Smith, have been on the receiving end of a six-pointer.
When all is said and done, both Smith and Little will be in the all-time top 10 in several career categories.
SEOAL finales: When Gallia Academy leaves the SEOAL at the end of the current school year, the league will soldier on while Logan, Jackson and Warren all seek membership in other leagues. Unless a school(s) joins, the league will fold if/when one of those three schools find a new full-time home.
That said, when Logan hosts Warren and Jackson entertains Gallipolis Friday night, it will thus be the last time two SEOAL
football games are played on the same night.
Logan and Warren will continue to play each other, but the Gallipolis-Jackson rivalry — which has been played nearly every year for a century — will be on hold at least for a year.
Gallia Academy’s 2016 schedule is already full. The Blue Devils already have three non-conference games slated, and will play seven games in their new league, the Ohio Valley Conference, leaving no room for a rivalry game with Jackson (or, for that matter, with Logan).
Officials from Gallipolis and Jackson have indicated, however, that they want to somehow work the game back onto their respective schedules down the road.
Gallipolis leads the all-time series with Jackson 49-42-7. The two teams first met in 1914 — playing more than once a season three times in 1914, 1915 (three times), 1916 and 1919 — and have played each year since 1935.
A Jackson win would give the program its 600th all-time victory.