Is it possible to lose and win at the same time?
It is when it comes to the LHSAA power ranking formula.
Jonesboro-Hodge lost a hard-fought battle to arch-rival Winnfield this past Friday by a 14-0 margin to fall to 3-7 on the year. Before the contest, the Tigers were sitting at #29 in the non-select, Division IV, power rankings with only the top 28 teams qualifying for the playoffs. One would figure that the loss meant that JHHS would be on the outside looking in regarding the postseason, right?
JHHS climbed three spots to #26 in the final rankings despite the loss.
Welcome to the wacky world of power rankings where playoff fortunes are dictated as much by whom you win or lose to, as actually beating an opponent. Gone are the days when you won your way into the postseason. Now, through creative scheduling, a team can lose more games than they win and still rank high enough to leapfrog over teams with a better record.
Confused? You are not alone, but here is an attempt to explain how things played out.
The win vaulted Winnfield’s record to 8-2. According to the power ranking formula, JHHS receives a point for every win that Winnfield has. Several teams that were ahead of JHHS in the rankings before the game (Delcambre, West St. John, and Ferriday) also lost their final game. More importantly, they fell to teams that had fewer wins to their credit than Winnfield, in a couple of cases, six and seven victories less.
The difference between the teams ranked #24 -#30 coming in ranged from two points to only a couple of hundredths of a point apart. To be able to add eight points compared to just two or three the others gained was huge. Add to the fact that West Ouachita and Bunkie, two teams the Tigers lost to earlier this season, were upset winners in their season-ender, and JHHS got even more additional points they didn’t expect to receive.
So BOOO…. to the loss to Winnfield that gave the arch-rival their 50th win all-time over JHHS in the 95th game of the series that was first played in 1917.
But YEAH….. to the wacky world of modern-day power rankings, that has allowed the Tigers, and especially the 13 seniors that were honored before the game on Senior Night, to stay alive and play another day.
The “baker’s dozen” of Tiger seniors that were recognized before the contest were: Savantez Phillips, Cameron Leonard, Omarrion Jackson, Edward “Tre” Beard, Zion Gray, Ed’Tavious Drayton, Raynald Bolds, David Johnson, Dominick Strickland, Austin Knotts, Kehlin Boston, Cartavious Waters, and Joshua Tatum.
It could be said that the Tigers backed into the playoffs but in reality, JHHS was due to receive some good fortune. The Tigers have endured a plethora of bad breaks this season. Included is everything from crazy bounces of the ball that have been the differences in games, a schedule that forced the Tigers to play their first three district games on the road, and untimely injuries that have crippled the Tiger’s effort.
JHHS head coach Terrance Blankenship is just glad that his squad will have the opportunity to keep playing.
“It didn’t go the way we had hoped but we get to keep playing and that is what we wanted,” reasoned Blankenship. “We are going to go back to work on Monday to prepare for our next challenge and give it our best shot.”
First-round foe! The top four teams in Division IV receive a first-round bye meaning the Tigers will travel to 7th-ranked Logansport for their playoff opener. The like-named Tigers from the Texas/Louisiana line bring a 7-3 record into the contest after finishing second in district 3-1A. Losses came at the hands of Class 2A, Calvary Baptist (8-2), and Rosepine (8-2) as well as St. Mary’s in the de-facto district championship game. JHHS and Logansport have two common opponents this season in Mansfield and Red River. Logansport won both of their contests by 52-8 and 32-16 margins, while JHHS fell to the district 3-2A opponents by 20-12 and 28-22 scores.
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