The first Ratings Percentage Indexes and point differentials have been posted by the Iowa High School Athletic Association, and there are some interesting findings as always.
Looking at the rankings, it appears the News-Telegraph’s coverage area has three teams that have all but assured themselves of playing a ninth game – that is, having that ninth game be a playoff game.
This year, 32 teams in each of the three smaller 11-man classes – classes A, 1A and 2A – and eight-man will play a ninth game as a playoff game. The Iowa High School Athletic Association is expected to announce the field sometime after midnight on Saturday, Oct. 16 – hard to believe that that’s just nine days away – with pairings coming a few hours later.
In eight player, 30 teams earn automatic bids, those being the top three teams in each of the 10 districts; two at-large qualifiers will be invited based on the IHSAA’s old 17-point differential tiebreaker. The top four teams in class A, 1A and 2A – each class has eight districts – make the post-season field, again using the point differential system.
With that said, eight-player teams CAM and Audubon appear to have clinched, as has ACGC in Class 1A.
CAM and Audubon are favored against their remaining two opponents – the Cougars against Coon Rapids-Bayard and Boyer Valley; the Wheelers against West Harrison and Woodbine, but as they say nothing is a guarantee as both Boyer Valley and West Harrison (at least) are still in playoff contention.
Exira-EHK might need to win out to have a chance at the post-season, with games against Boyer Valley and Coon Rapids-Bayard left.
In Class A, Riverside should get in with a win in at least one of its last two games. However, AHSTW, especially with its impressive win over Riverside, cannot be ruled out for post-season consideration.
The Bulldogs have the tougher of the two schedules between them and the Vikings, hosting Southwest Valley, which has been surprising this season, and Earlham, which throttled AHSTW early in the year. AHSTW has a non-district game this week before entertaining winless Council Bluffs St. Albert in Week 8.
It should be noted that both Earlham and Southwest Valley have point differentials above both AHSTW and Riverside after Week 6, per the IHSAA. Riverside beat Mount Ayr, while the Raiders beat AHSTW. But with Riverside having a higher point differential this week, a win in one of the last two games would put them into position for the post-season; two wins would be a lot better.
In Class 1A District 7, ACGC and Van Meter are the class of the league, with the Chargers taking on one-win Panorama and the Bulldogs traveling to Interstate 35 of Truro. Both are favored in their contests this week, setting up a landmark game for what’s been a landmark season for the Chargers. Regardless of the result on Oct. 15 at Van Meter, the Chargers are in line for both a playoff spot and at least a first-round home game.
Also from District 7, West Central Valley is much improved, and if they can get by Nodaway Valley this week, they should sew up a playoff spot, as they have beaten last-place Panorama; the Wildcats would have only third-place I-35 to play, and regardless of the Roadrunners’ outcome with Van Meter, they should get a playoff spot as they have beaten both Panorama and Nodaway Valley.
So that’s how it looks from the News-Telegraph area among the smaller classes.
Classes 3A, 4A and 5A have a full nine-game schedule, and their playoff fields won’t be known until after the last games on Oct. 22. Again, it’ll be a long night, with playoff teams announced after midnight early Saturday, Oct. 23, and first-round games early in the morning.
In classes 3A and 4A, the top two teams in each class determine 12 of the playoff spots, with the RPI – basically, it’s used to decide team record, opponents’ record and the opponents opponents’ record – used to decide the four at-large teams. Class 5A has “group play,” with no group champions; all of the teams are decided at-large.
Starting locally with Class 3A District 6, it’s Harlan who’s the head of the class. Believe it or not, as impressive as the Cyclones have been this year, the first RPI standings have them ranked fourth, behind Boyden-Hull/Rock Valley, Nevada and Humboldt, in that order. ADM is listed 10th.
If the playoff field were announced today, based off the RPI only, automatic qualifiers would be: District 1 – BH/RV and Sergeant Bluff-Luton; District 2 – Nevada and Humboldt; District 3 – Independence and West Delaware; District 4 – Benton Community and Davenport Assumption; District 5 – Solon and Fairfield; and District 6 – Harlan and ADM.
The other qualifiers, based on RPI, would be Algona, Grinnell, Creston and Hampton-Dumont-CAL.
Class 4A’s automatic 12, if the playoffs would be decided today: District 1 – Spencer and Webster City; District 2 – Waverly-Shell Rock and Decorah; District 3 – North Scott and Fort Madison; District 4 – Cedar Rapids Xavier and Clear Creek Amana; District 5 – Bondurant-Farrar and Indianola; and District 6 – Winterset and Council Bluffs Lewis Central. The at-large qualifiers based on RPI would be Norwalk, Newton, Oskaloosa and Fort Dodge.
Class 5A’s top 16 are, in order from 1-16 (the field if decided today): Southeast Polk, West Des Moines Valley, Iowa City High, Cedar Rapids Kennedy, Cedar Rapids Prairie, Urbandale, Linn-Mar, Ankeny, Pleasant Valley, Ames, Des Moines Lincoln, Cedar Falls, Dubuque Senior, West Des Moines Dowling, Waukee Northwest and Ankeny Centennial.
So there you have it. Some impressive fields to be sure.
Things will change from week to week, so stay posted.
* * *
Somehow, I get the feeling that you’re going to literally have to knock Tom Brady out of a game in order to beat him and – right now – the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
If the NFL had a continuous clock rule after a team gets a 35-point lead in the second half, I don’t think that big a lead would be safe against any team with Brady on it, even if there’s just six minutes left in a game.
Bank on it, even a 42-point lead – that’s six touchdowns, given all six PAT kicks are good – might not be safe with that short of time remaining. He knows how to win and make his offense work quickly.
Consider this: During Sunday’s game with his former team, the New England Patriots, the 44-year-old Brady broke Drew Brees’ NFL record for career passing yards. A 28-yard completion to Mike Evans did it: He reached a staggering 80,359 career yards and became the all-time passing leader.
Granted, the Bucs only won 19-17, so it was no offensive juggernaut for either team, and every one of the greatest rallies in NFL history took most of the second half.
But spot Brady a huge deficit, and bank on it to work his magic. He’s just one of those quarterbacks that seems to have that gift.
* * *
We’ll see just how good Iowa is this Saturday when they take on Penn State.
No. 3 vs. No. 4.
Should be a good one.