The calls, texts and tweets began flowing in two weeks ago and really increased in intensity toward the middle of last week. Coaches, players and fans associated with Section 1 football programs on the bubble were either elated, confused or plain livid. Many in the latter category simply couldn’t understand how their team had accomplished what it had yet still landed on the wrong side of the four or eight-team playoff cutoff.
Truthfully, the topic was just about all anyone wanted to talk about last week and over the weekend. When the tournaments were finalized Sunday, the reaction was about what you’d expect.
Here’s my story from today’s Journal News:
The seedings and matchups were released on Sunday, but ignited mixed reactions, including disappointment from both sides of the playoff bubble.
“Our whole team is bummed out,” Ardsley senior Gabe Kardish said. His Panthers won one more game overall and in league play and beat two-time defending champ Croton-Harmon 39-21 but finished behind Croton, one spot out of the Class B playoffs.
“We’re really discouraged. We worked so hard for the whole season and now some system, which I think is flawed, keeps us out of the playoffs. I think it’s pretty ridiculous.”
The system was implemented before the 2011 season and has been lauded by some and scorned by others. It generates schedules based off preseason rankings, but, despite consideration last spring by the Section 1 football committee, they are not weighted.
Other numerically based playoff structures use a weighting system or award power points to credit teams for playing tougher schedules.
“There was no true weight put on it at the beginning of the year,” Clarkstown North coach Joe Trongone said. “I’m a math teacher and it’s driving me nuts.”
One byproduct is Thursday’s quarterfinal between Harrison and Poughkeepsie, Class A’s two top-ranked teams which had one loss between them. They will be joined on one side of the bracket by undefeated Somers, stacking three of Class A’s top-four ranked teams from the preseason together.
“Whoever is in charge should be embarrassed,” Harrison coach Art Troilo Jr. said. “I’d be embarrassed if something came out so backward.”
Yorktown, which missed the Class A playoffs, presented what it believed was a solution to the committee last week. (EDITED, 10/22, 3:02 p.m.) It would have weighted each team’s schedule based on its preseason power ranking and, as a result, factored strength of schedule into the equation when calculating the indexes used to determine which teams qualified for the playoffs.
The football committee sent the proposal to Section 1’s championship committee, which is responsible for the sectional tournaments. The championship committee rejected the proposal on Friday.
“I’m certainly disappointed that the solutions that were presented of late were not used because of the timing,” Yorktown coach Mike Rescigno said. “Timing should never be an issue when it comes to doing the right thing for kids.”
Several programs that have not contended for playoff berths in recent years qualified. Panas surpassed its win total from the previous two seasons, finishing 5-2 thanks to a dramatic 24-23 overtime victory over rival Lakeland Friday night. Saunders, which hadn’t won in nearly three years before winning its 2011 season opener, finished 6-1.
They were among a group of qualifiers whose results against common opponents paled in comparison to those of non-playoff teams.
But Saunders, for example, has won eight of its last nine games dating back to last season. Coach Mel Carrozza said his team earned its opportunity and hopes to prove it.
“We saw this as a possibility and we’re glad to be in it,” Carrozza said. “But we’re not going to be a team that’s just happy to be there. We want to win.”
John Jay, a preseason contender in Class A, hoped to be granted that opportunity after losing to Poughkeepsie by a touchdown in last year’s championship. The Indians suffered close losses to Harrison and Sleepy Hollow, but its resume includes a 36-7 win over Tappan Zee, a game it led 30-0 at halftime. Tappan Zee handed Panas its only league loss.
“There are some really good teams in there and we already saw two of them in Harrison and Sleepy, but we played right with those teams,” John Jay coach Jimmy Clark said. “We feel that we should have the opportunity to play for a championship.”
The Class A playoffs begin Thursday. The eight qualifiers will play three rounds in 11 days to crown a champion.
The remaining four classes will host four-team playoffs, including Class AA, which had an eight-team field last year. They begin with semifinals on either Friday or Saturday.
The schedule for the championships has been set, but football chairman Chuck Scarpulla said it is subject to change.
EDIT: The original information reported was inaccurate. Yorktown’s proposal was rejected by Section 1’s championship committee — not the football committee, which pass the proposal to the championship committee.
SECTION 1 PLAYOFF SCHEDULE
Thursday, Oct. 25
Class A quarterfinals
No. 3B Saunders (6-1) at No. 2A Sleepy Hollow (6-1), 3 p.m.
No. 4B Poughkeepsie (6-1) at No. 1A Harrison (7-0), TBA
No. 3A Hen Hud (5-2) at No. 2B Somers (7-0), 6 p.m.
No. 4A Panas (5-2) at No. 1B Brewster (7-0), 6:30 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 26
Class B semifinals
No. 4 Croton-Harmon (4-3) vs. No. 1 Our Lady of Lourdes (7-0) at Overlook Park, 7 p.m.
No. 3 Nanuet (5-2) at No. 2 Pleasantville (5-2), 7 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 27
Class AA semifinals
No. 4 John Jay-East Fishkill (5-2) at No. 1 New Rochelle (6-1), 1:30 p.m.
No. 3 Mamaroneck (6-1) at No. 2 North Rockland (6-1), 1:30 p.m.
Class C semifinals
No. 4 Bronxville (4-3) at No. 1 Woodlands (7-0), 1:30 p.m.
No. 3 Dobbs Ferry (5-2) at No. 2 Rye Neck (6-0), 1:30 p.m.
Class D semifinals
No. 3 Palisade Prep (2-5) at No. 2 Haldane (2-4-1), 1:30 p.m.
No. 4 Yonkers Montessori (0-6) at No. 1 Tuckahoe (4-2-1), 1:30 p.m.
Tuesday, Oct. 30
Class A semifinals
At higher seed:
No. 3B Saunders-No. 2A Sleepy Hollow winner vs. No. 4A Panas- No. 1B Brewster winner
No. 4B Poughkeepsie-No. 1A Harrison winner vs. No. 3A Hen Hud-No. 2B Somers winner
Saturday, Nov. 3
All games at Mahopac High School:
Class D championship, 2 p.m.
Class AA championship, 5 p.m.
Class B championship, 8 p.m.
Sunday, Nov. 4
All games at Mahopac High School:
Class A championship, 1 p.m.
Class C championship, 4:30 p.m.