Home > Football Huddle: Section 1 playoff structure causes consternation | USA Today High School Sports

Football Huddle: Section 1 playoff structure causes consternation | USA Today High School Sports

Arlington High School's Parrish Durham runs against John Jay in Wiccopee on Sept. 18.

Arlington High School’s Parrish Durham runs against John Jay in Wiccopee on Sept. 18.

Solve the following equation and show all work:

Assigned multiplier (W% + OW% – OL%) = X

If that looks more complicated than some of the problems you remember from 11th grade math class, that’s because it probably is.

Arlington High School's Justin Leigh runs through John Jay defenders during their game in Wiccopee on Sept. 18.

Arlington High School’s Justin Leigh runs through John Jay defenders during their game in Wiccopee on Sept. 18.

But it’s essentially what the Section 1 high school football committee worked out Sunday morning when it convened to determine the seeding for this week’s qualifying round.

The points system, which Section 1 has employed for its playoffs, was a cause of consternation for some time. It was adjusted last spring to greater factor in strength of schedule and to create the upcoming 16-team quasi-bracket that will eventually decide the eight teams that advance to the sectional playoffs.

The result: Mixed opinions and a bit more consternation.

For instance, Arlington coach Dominick DeMatteo entered Sunday believing his team, by his calculations with the formula, should have been no lower than a sixth seed in Class AA. The Admirals (3-3) ended up being slotted eighth and will host No. 9 Roy C. Ketcham on Friday.

“I don’t know; I don’t have an answer,” DeMatteo said Sunday, shortly after the seeding was released.

In simple terms, the new formula goes something like this: Take a team’s winning percentage, add the winning percentages of the teams it beat and subtract the losing percentages of the teams it lost to. Then, once you’ve found that sum, multiply that by the “multiplier” number assigned to your team before the season based on its preseason ranking. (Still following?)

John Jay, for example, as the defending champion and preseason No. 1 seed, had the league’s toughest schedule. With that came the highest multiplier figure of 14.5. And down the line it goes. The multiplier was implemented to add more value to the strength of schedule, weighing it heavily against the win-loss record to almost assure the top preseason seeds, barring a collapse, would earn the top slots in the qualifier.

Football: John Jay win was worth the wait

Arlington was seeded second in the preseason poll and two of its losses came to New Rochelle and John Jay, the respective No. 1 and 2 seeds entering the qualifier.

“It appears the multiplier was either tweaked or not used at all,” DeMatteo said. “We’re trying to figure it out.”

The Admirals were jumped by teams like Carmel and Clarkstown South. Both are 5-1 but didn’t play as challenging a schedule.

“We’re not where we thought we would be and I’m sure a few other teams aren’t either,” DeMatteo said. “But it is what it is and we have to move forward.”

DeMatteo lauded the concept of the new system on Saturday and, a day later, said he still supports it but admitted there are kinks that need to be ironed out.

Perhaps there was a calculation error. Or a misunderstanding of the multipliers on the part of the coaches. Or a misunderstanding of the formula altogether. Whatever the case, Section 1 will have some explaining to do this week.

Several coaches also said it would have made sense to have a centralized posting, or for the section to provide regular updates of the seeds to keep teams abreast of their standing throughout the season and to avoid potential surprises.

Our Lady of Lourdes coach Brian Walsh said he wasn’t in favor of the system at all.

“It doesn’t need to be this complicated with the whole points system,” he said. Lourdes, in its first season in Class A, secured the third seed and hosts No. 14 Pearl River. Nevertheless, Walsh said he would prefer “a more common-sense type of approach” to seeding.

He said the simplest solution would be a division of each class into two leagues and, based on an S-curve, having the top four teams in either make the playoffs. “I don’t think there should be 16 teams,” he said. “I’m all for the strongest teams being in the playoffs. You get ranked low in the preseason, play a weaker schedule and then you’re in the playoffs?”

He has a point. That certainly would reduce some of the confusion and free Section 1 of some of the complaints it’s sure to receive. And playoffs, traditionally, were designed to pit the elite against each other. Although, technically, this weekend’s games are not considered “playoffs” because state rules won’t allow a 16-team tournament. After this qualifying round, the remaining eight teams will be re-seeded for the official start of the sectional tournament.

But flaws, fuzzy math, controversy and all, what this round does add is a level of intrigue and excitement to Week Seven. October Madness!

Friday’s games will be the high school football equivalent of the first day of the NCAA basketball tournament. An oversized bracket removes the exclusivity of the postseason, but it does keep more teams and communities invested.

Typically, you can start writing some teams off after the third game. But for one week at least, there can exist the hope of an upset leading to a miracle run. Don’t tell that 14th seed they can’t pull what the George Mason basketball team did in 2006. Not this week.

“I think the bigger pool helps grow the game,” Ketcham coach Bryan Hogan said. “One of the reasons they did this is because a lot of teams would be out of it early in the season and the kids wouldn’t have much to play for down the stretch.”

Now almost every team can fancy itself Cinderella.

Beacon fell to 1-5 with its loss to Yorktown on Saturday. But the Bulldogs got the 12th seed in Class A, which sets up a rematch at Yorktown this weekend. They say it’s hard to beat a team twice in one season. How about in one week? Anything to hang their hat on, right?

“Even though we’ve struggled this year, we’re still involved and we’ve got a shot,” Beacon coach Brian Mahon said. “This keep’s everyone’s hopes alive.”

For one more week, at least. But that’s a good thing. It breathes life into the sport. The fans can get jazzed, the players can get pumped up and, in DeMatteo’s words, “Twitter is gonna blow up” with folks checking for updates and hoping for upsets.

“It’s flawed and we need to figure out how to improve it after this season,” DeMatteo said, “but this is the most comprehensive plan I’ve seen us have.”

And that’s coming from someone who might have the biggest gripe.

VIDEO/PHOTOS: Abalos explodes as Spackenkill wins big

Top Week Six Game

Poughkeepsie 24, Monticello 20 — The Pioneers pulled to 3-3 behind two touchdowns from Trevon Reid, who replaced injured quarterback Troy Schoonmaker midway through the contest. Marcus Blocker’s interception in the final minute sealed the victory.

Week Six Scoreboard

Roosevelt 18, New Paltz 17

Arlington 44, White Plains 32

John Jay 29, Mamaroneck 15

Marlboro 47, Wallkill 0

Dover 48, Pine Plains 20

Millbrook 30, Chester 26

Spackenkill 59, Red Hook 16

Poughkeepsie 24, Monticello 20

Rondout Valley 54, Highland 22

Yorktown 34, Beacon 19

Ketcham 28, Ramapo 14

Lourdes 56, John Jay-Cross River 15

Top Week Seven Matchup

Ketcham at Arlington, Friday 7 p.m. — An all-Dutchess qualifying-round game features an Indians team that has scratched out a 3-3 record despite injuries and a 3-3 Admirals team one-year removed from the Section 1 Class AA finals.

Week Seven Schedule


New Paltz at Poughkeepsie, 6 p.m.

Minisink Valley at Roosevelt, 7 p.m.

Burke at Pine Plains, 7 p.m.

Marlboro at Highland, 7 p.m.

Eldred at Millbrook, 7 p.m.

Ketcham at Arlington, 7 p.m.

Suffern at John Jay, 7 p.m.

Pawling at Haldane, 7:15 p.m.


Rondout Valley at Red Hook, 1:30 p.m.

Spackenkill at Goshen, 1:30 p.m.

O’Neill at Dover, 1:30 p.m.

To be announced

Pearl River at Lourdes

Beacon at Yorktown

Football Huddle appears every Monday in the Poughkeepsie Journal, breaking down the weekly stories on the gridiron. Stephen Haynes: [email protected], 845-437-4826, Twitter: @StephenHaynes4


Three of the top football performances in Week Six. Nominate performances by using #PJTop3 on Twitter.

Luke Timm, Our Lady of Lourdes: How could Timm top teammate Billy Riccardi and his three rushing touchdowns for this spot? In beating John Jay-Cross River 56-15, Timm caught 12 balls for 241 yards and a touchdown, returned the opening kickoff 95 yards to the end zone, and picked off a pass.

Rino Tamburri, Marlboro: The running back ran for 223 yards and four touchdowns, made 10 tackles and recovered two fumbles in blanking Wallkill.

Camron Abalos, Spackenkill: In beating Red Hook, the quarterback threw five passes that were caught in the end zone, threw for 215 yards, ran for 138 and returned a punt for a score.

Previous Football Huddles

Week 1: Statement victories set tone for underdogs

Week 2: As list of unbeaten shrinks, Pine Plains/Rhinebeck thrives

Week 3: Red Hook emerging from the “mud”

Week 4: Injury keeps biting

Week 5: Makeup or make-up for Poughkeepsie?

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