Working the Playoff Puzzle: analogies and assumptions

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 5, 2004

Commentary by Mike Grayson

Let’s make an analogy of the high school playoffs being like Christmas. First, all the youngsters have written their letters to Santa (pre-season work). Then the kiddies have done their best to be good and not be naughty (winning all or enough regional games to qualify for the playoffs). Now it’s my job to be Santa’s (high school association playoff format) little helper (writing this column). Unfortunately, some assembly is required (actually playing each and every game).

Week 10 of the prep schedule revolves around games that are tune-ups for the playoffs which for AHSAA (public) and AISA (private) begin next week. The AHSAA games are divided between non-conference rivalry games or whatever games could be found to fill out the schedule. These games were originally scheduled for October 29 but were moved back a week in order for the games scheduled for September 17 and postponed due to Hurricane Ivan to be played last week.

The AISA on the other hand stuck with the original schedule and moved their September 17 games to this weekend thus you have several regional games being played tonight that will result in playoff seedings. The most significant of this group being Southern – Shelby Academy. This game pits two undefeated in regional play battling for the AISA Class 1 West championship.

For 4A Region Champ Demopolis High School the road to the 4A championship to be played at the Hoover Met looks like the following based on a couple of assumptions: #1 DHS wins every game, #2 the highest ranked team also win their games to complete the match up (all games are 7:00 pm starts). Note: Do not book any hotel rooms based on this column.

November 12

St. James Trojans

November 19

Thomasville Tigers

November 26

Trinity Wildcats

Montgomery

December 3

UMS Bulldogs

Mobile

December 10

Deshler Tigers

Birmingham

Sweet Water, No. 2 in 1A Region 4 their road to the Hoover Met will follow the same path based on the same assumptions from above.

November 12

Florala Wildcats

November 19

Millry Wildcats

Millry

November 26

Loachapoka Indians

December 3

Brantley Bulldogs

Brantley

December 10

Courtland Chiefs

Birmingham 4pm

So, if DHS&Sweet Water were able to run the table through their respective classifications, there should be plenty of ’48’ plates in and around Hoover on December 10. Both would play their championships at ‘The Met’ on December 10; 1A at 4pm, 4A at 7pm.

Tonight’s non-conference games have no bearing on the playoff pairings yet they have great significance for the playoffs. Sweet Water goes south on a little beach / fishing trip to play the 4A Gulf Shores Dolphins while DHS plays host to 5A Greenville. Neither Gulf Shores nor Greenville is going anywhere when the second season (the playoffs) begins next week. It would be a satisfying end to a frustrating season to be able to whip a couple of playoff bound teams. On the other hand, a win for the DHS Bengals and the SWHS Bullydogs would provide momentum going in as there are no easy rides in the playoffs.

There are several team and individual records on the line tonight that could be eclipsed by the Tigers. DHS has scored 513 points (57 point average) going into tonight’s game. Should Demopolis maintain their average they will move into 10th place in the Alabama high school record books. A footnote item: the team they would displace, 1998 Lineville with 560 points coached by none other than Doug Goodwin in his last season before coming to Metropolis. Also, the record for average points per game is held by the 1926 Tuscaloosa Black Bears with 59 per game.

Dontrell Miller with three interceptions returned for touchdowns could move into second place in the record books if he intercepts one more and goes the distance. The record is currently held by Reprobatus (real name I promise) Bibbs of Courtland 6 Interceptions for TD’s in 1999. Second place is Eurosius (another real name) Parker of Greenville with three in 1994.

Chad Schroeder goes into the Greenville game tonight with five punt returns for touchdowns. One more and he will be tied for second with Steven Coleman of Pike County (1988) and Jack Golson of Lowndes County (1950). The record is held by Jason Clay of Parrish with 8 in 1998.

One of the many reasons DHS has been prolific on offense in 2004 is the play of those who get their names in the spotlight few if any times during the course of the game. Of course, the group of ‘no names’ is the offensive line. Typically, a lineman gets singled out for attention when something bad has occurred such as a holding penalty or when the QB gets creamed when one of his big guys misses a block. However, ask any of the backs about a big play or a big game and the first thing out of their mouth is “gotta give credit to my o-line”.

The senior laden Tigers across the front are Matthew Phillips (c), Justin King (g), Ray Williams (g), Zack Landerfelt (g), Chris Hill (t) and Jason Hernandez (t). All are seniors except for Landerfelt (junior).

The men in the trenches will likely be tested Friday night when Greenville Tigers pay a visit to ‘the real Tiger Stadium’. The G’ville Tigizzles are sporting a 1-8 record and will be in the unfamiliar position of sitting out the playoffs. Examining their record and taking away losses to #21 (5A) and regional foe Wetumpka 48-32 in week two and currently ranked #4 5A and region champ Stanhope Elmore (38-7), Greenville knows how to play defense giving up an average of only 14 points per game. Putting points on the board appears to be a problem for Coach Alvin Briggs unit.

GHS, though not making the playoffs this, know about the second season. The 9 seniors on the team were part of teams that made the playoffs

(eliminated in the first round) 2001, 2002&2003.

Demopolis and Greenville last met in 1999, Doug Goodwin’s first year at DHS. This was the second game of a two game series started the prior year by Coach Cody Keene. Demopolis is riding a two game win streak over Greenville as Goodwin’s group captured a ‘W’ 18-13 and Cody Keene last DHS team eked out a 28-25 victory in 1998.

Just for your personal 411, Greenville has owned DHS in the playoffs. In 1984, Fred Schoenrock and Demopolis were shut out in the semi’s 14-0. Ten years later, Cody Keene’s first group of Tigers was eliminated by GHS in the first round 20-7. Greenville went on to win the state championship that year.