Final week will settle a scrambled playoff picture

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By Craig Worrell, Sports Editor

UPDATE: In the time since this story was written, the VHSL has adjusted Grayson County's ratings points in accordance with Alleghany, N.C.'s schedule. Grayson County now is rated 14th in the 2A West Region.


There is still a lot to be decided in the western half of the state as high school football draws down to its final week of the regular season.

Despite losses by three of the top eight teams in the Virginia High School League’s Group 1A West Region standings, the resulting shakeup was relatively minor. Fort Chiswell’s loss to Graham dropped the Pioneers to No. 2, where they probably would have wound up anyway, behind the winner of this week’s battle between 9-0 teams Honaker and Haysi.

Covington dropped one spot into a tie for No. 5 after falling to James River while neither No. 7 Holston nor No. 8 George Wythe moved at all after the Cavaliers’ unexpected win over the Maroons.

Radford’s upset win over Glenvar catapulted the Bobcats past Galax and into the No. 9 slot, since Radford’s win was worth 28 rating points while Galax’s win over 0-9 Bland was worth just 16. All told, there was some shuffling among the top 16, but nobody dropped out of the bracket Friday.

In 2A West, Grayson County fell to 15th (or stayed put at No. 14, depending on the source) in what is a tight six-team race for the final five positions, while Graham jumped five spots into a three-way tie for 10th after shocking Fort Chiswell. As for an indication of how competitive things are in the bottom half of the bracket, Chatham dropped from 13th to 17th despite a win over Randolph-Henry.

Every year about this time, I give a big ol tip of the hat to Elliot, a.k.a. VHSL-Helper, who keeps up with this stuff a lot more closely than can I, going as far as projecting points and placements in accordance with all the possible outcomes of upcoming games. He calls it his cheat sheet, and it can be an invaluable resource. Do a search for him and look around his place a while. Lots of interesting stuff to be found.

Anyway, according to Helper, the top 11 teams in 1A West have secured a spot in the postseason, including Galax, which can finish anywhere from No. 7 to 16. Ten other teams are mathematically alive for the final five spots. Honaker, Fort Chiswell (even with a loss) or Haysi will be your No. 1.

In 2A, the VHSL has Grayson County with 168 points and currently rated No. 15 in the West Region, but two other independence sources, including Helper, have the Blue Devils with 170 points and at No. 14. The discrepancy has to do with the amount of points Grayson should earn for its win over Alleghany, N.C. Of course the VHSL’s numbers are official, so at least for now the Blue Devils are No. 15.

Elsewhere in 2A West, Lee surprised John Battle last week and vaulted three spots to No. 14, dropping Battle from fourth to eighth.

The top eight teams in the ratings have secured a playoff spot, with 13 teams battling for the eight remaining spots. Grayson County can conceivably finish anywhere from as high as ninth to as low as packing it up for the year, and is in the middle of a gaggle of five teams separated in the ratings by a half a point. Glenvar currently has the advantage at No. 13 with a 19.00 rating with Chatham for now on the outside looking in, four positions back at 18.50.

All five teams in that pack have tough games this Friday, including Grayson (vs. Galax). Lee and Virginia High, currently on either side of Grayson in the ratings, play one another, Glenvar faces No. 1 Giles and Chatham has Appomattox.

When you’re finished at Helper’s place, hop on over to VHSL-reference.com, but only if numbers don’t frighten you. While this site has nothing that I can find that gives it any relation to the VHSL’s ratings, it is a mathematical freak show, with RPIs, strength of schedule ratings, offensive and defensive ratings, state, region and conference rankings and more. And it’s archived all the way back to 1999. It even has a game simulator that will provide a final score for just about any matchup imaginable. If you wondered how the 2011 Galax team would stack up against this year’s Fort Chiswell? Here’s your chance to find out.

So while it still holds true that they don’t play the game on paper, in some respects they do play em in cyberspace.