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The best of the best - or perhaps not?

Records of playoff teams' opponents suggest some had much easier schedules

Records of playoff teams' opponents suggest some had much easier schedules

November 14, 2003|by TIM KOELBLE

koelble@herald-mail.com

The 11th week of the scholastic football season brings about the usual wall-to-wall banter.

How did this team make it and that team not? The playoff system is unfair!

All the standard remarks go hand-in-hand with the final tally that determines the combatants for the statewide playoffs that begin today.

One might think that those who have qualified are consistently beating teams that are pretty doggone good, and then go on to receive bonus points when that defeated team wins a game.

Oops ... hold on ... slow down ... back up. That's not necessarily the case.

Of the 64 teams in the Maryland playoffs, only 14 can claim their opponents finished above .500, a relatively low number. Five schools each from 4A and 3A and two each from 2A and 1A had opponents that combined for a winning record.

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On the opposite end, Joppatowne, a 1A North qualifier with a sub-.500 4-5 regular-season record, played opponents that had a combined record of 55-38. The four teams Joppatowne beat went 22-14, and Joppatowne reaped in the bonus points.

The others that faced opposition with positive win-loss records were Beall (51-49), Edgewood (49-41), Forestville (55-45), Frederick Douglass (51-48), Randallstown (55-44-1), Dundalk (52-47), Severna Park (54-46), Gaithersburg (51-48), Damascus (59-40, best overall), Lake Clifton (39-38), Suitland (54-46) and Northwestern (51-47).

Participants from The Herald-Mail coverage area each had below-.500 marks from their opponents and they include, along with the record of their opponents: Smithsburg (44-56) vs. Beall, Hancock (37-59) vs. Catoctin (48-51), Walkersville (45-55) vs. South Carroll (47-53) and North Hagerstown (41-59) vs. Fort Hill (35-62).

Those records would indicate Catoctin might have played the strongest schedule. In the Cougars' 10-game schedule (Catoctin finished 6-4), five teams - Joppatowne, Walkersville, North Hagerstown, Smithsburg and South Carroll - qualified for the playoffs and have a combined record of 36-10.

Statewide, of the 32 region semifinal games, 10 will be between teams that met during the regular season. The only area team falling into that category is Walkersville, which lost on the road at South Carroll on Oct. 24, 35-16.

Also statewide, there are no first-round, head-to-head matchups of unbeaten teams. Record-wise, the most intriguing contest, based on records, would be North Hagerstown's 10-0 record against Fort Hill's 9-1.

Two head-to-head games involve teams with 9-1 records, both in the 3A West as Northwest goes to Linganore and Seneca Valley invades Urbana.

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