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Schools of Thought: Class D football sectionals need change

October 15, 2012
By MIKE ZUMMO ( , The Leader Herald

Has anyone taken a look at the Section II Class D brackets yet?

They haven't officially been released because while the other four football classifications will begin their playoff runs this week, the smallest schools in the league will wait until Week 9 before starting the playoffs.

The reason?

Because, un the Class D sectional playoffs only include four teams. Under this format, the top two teams from each division advance to the semifinals.

Here's the problem with that.

If you just go by their records, the four best teams are in the Class C South. Canajoharie and Greenwich are both 5-2. Every team in the Class D North has at least three losses, so two of the best teams in Class D are shut out of the playoffs.

Take the Cougars for example. They've played three Class D North teams: Warrensburg, Lake George and Hoosic Valley. They've beaten them all, meaning the Cougars are 3-0 against the Class D North, and that includes a win over the division leader.

That's a better record than Whitehall, which has lost to Lake George, a team the Cougars defeated quite handedly early in the season.

Greenwich, meanwhile, has routed Lake George, Whitehall and Salem, the three top teams in the North.

Still think these two teams don't deserve to be in the playoffs?

If Class D will have only four teams make its playoff bracket, then perhaps it should seed the tournament to make sure the best teams are still standing at the end of the regular season. Obviously division champions should move on to sectionals. If they didn't, no one would represent the North.

But does a subpar second-place team really deserve to be in the playoffs when the other division has two teams with better records both overall and against Class D North competition?

I know that having the two top teams from each division qualify for postseason play is the easiest way to lay out the tournament, but this year, the system is punishing both the Cougars and Witches for being in the South.

It's unfair, as both Canajoharie and Greenwich have better overall records than the teams in the North and have dominated the North.

Heading into this week's regular-season finale against one another, the Cougars and Witches have lost only to division front runners Rensselaer and Cambridge in Class D South play this season.

Instead of playing in the playoffs, they'll be playing crossover games while a less deserving team is from the North is competing for a championship.

Seeding also comes with its own pitfalls, and Section II officials would probably have to come up with formulas that would stump Pythagoras in order to figure out seeding. Still, it's worth it to make sure the best teams are playing for the championship, and not the teams that happen to benefit from playing in a weaker division.

And if Section II Class D officials don't want to seed the four-team tournament, here's another possibility.

Expand the playoffs to eight teams. Both Class D divisions have six teams. That means only five divisional games are required in a seven-game season. So, I don't understand why each team in Class D needs to play three games against the other division.

Knock one off and Class D can have an eight-team playoff bracket like the other four classes do. This way, no one will be left out. The four quality teams at the top of the Class D South will be able to compete in the tournament along with the top four from the North.

It's a simple fix and the Class D tournament gets a little more excitement injected into it by having four more teams in the playoffs.



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