published Monday, October 11th, 2010

Gossett: TSSAA football rankings not the final word on playoff seeding

Have you noticed those playoffs rankings the TSSAA is releasing every Tuesday?

Don’t get carried away if you’re team is at the top of the list. It doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll host as long as they keep winning.

They obviously won’t host the championship game, but they might not host in the semifinals according to the TSSAA’s Mark Reeves, and limiting travel is once again a priority.

“In essence the seeding is the same as last year. Once we divide the state into [four] quadrants, we’ll seed teams and the higher seed will host,” the assistant executive director said. “If you have two No. 1 seeds meeting in the semifinals you revert to the odd-even year to determine the host. This being an even year, the team in the bottom quadrant would host if two No. 1’s or two No. 2’s reach the semis.”

Reeves said geography will play more of role than ranking in the placement of teams in each quadrant.

“We are literally not looking at standings but dots on the map,” he said. “Once teams are grouped into quadrants we’re looking at standings to determine who would be seeded where. If you’re looking at eight teams then they would be seeded where they fall one through eight.”

One of the biggest changes in the placement of teams is the removal of a rule that kept teams from the same district from meeting in the first round.

“That’s no longer a provision, which makes seeding much easier. Coaches felt that as a true No. 1 they wanted to be rewarded and play a No. 8 seed even if that No. 8 was from their district,” Reeves said. “Another point of contention from the coaches’ committee was throwing out criteria where a team automatically got priority for finishing first or second in a district. We had occasions where a team was first or second in its district with a 5-5 record and would host a team that finished 8-2 but didn’t finish first or second in its district. Coaches felt if you won more games you should be rewarded for it.”

If two teams are 6-4 in the same quadrant the first tie-breaker for seeding is now the number of opponents played that won 50 percent of their games.

For those who are interested, the TSSAA has 17 tie-breakers and Reeves said the organization hadn’t gotten past No. 4 in the sequence.

* Heard the rumor regarding the return of Chad Voytik, Cleveland’s junior quarterback who suffered a compound fracture of a finger on his right [passing] hand a couple of weeks back? For those who weren’t there Friday night, it’s true.

“You can’t tell he was ever hurt. [His recovery] was borderline miraculous,” Blue Raiders coach E.K. Slaughter said.

Voytik, who was written off for the season just two weeks ago, completed eight of 10 passes with no TDs for 152 yards with two TDs.

The Blue Raiders lead District 5-AAA and have district games remaining against Rhea County, Ooltewah and Soddy-Daisy.

* Hixson started a freshman at center and two freshmen on the defensive line in a surprising victory over East Ridge. The Wildcats defeated the Pioneers 35-7 behind running back Gary Cosey (152 yards rushing, two TDs) and quarterback Randy Boyd (8-12, 135 yards, 1 TD; 90 rushing yards, one TD).

“It was the first complete game we have played,” coach Houston White said. “It was better than we played at DeKalb County and a whole lot better than we played against East Hamilton.”

White is concerned that the loss to East Hamilton might come back to bite the Wildcats in their bid for the postseason.

“There are four teams sitting there at 1-3 and nobody knows what’s going to happen,” White said.

East Hamilton are Central are tied behind 6-AA co-leaders Tyner and Howard. EH has games left with East Ridge, Red Bank and the Purple Pounders and the Purple Pounders play Tyner and East Ridge before that showdown with the Hurricanes.

Central was victimized by Brainerd, which scored in the final 10 seconds to upend the Pounders 6-3.

Red Bank, in the 1-3 group with East Ridge, Brainerd and Hixson, still has games with Brainerd, East Hamilton and Hixson. The Lions haven’t lost to Brainerd since 2003 when the Panthers won 12-7. They haven’t lost to Hixson since a 10-7 victory in 2004.

* Eric Jones, a sophomore for Hixson, was in a motorcycle accident Saturday afternoon and was Life-Forced to Erlanger. White asked Sunday for prayers from those in the high school football community and anybody else that heard or read about the accident.

Jones, who has been in pediatric intensive care unit at T.C. Thompson, had been sedated but doctors have ruled out brain injuries.

“He had no broken bones but there’s a lot of road rash – third degree burns when he slid along the road,” White said.

* Several private schools have open dates this week including Baylor, Chattanooga Christian, Grace Academy and McCallie.

Baylor, with its second open date of the season, will prepare for Ensworth, which handed Brentwood Academy its first loss of the season a little more than two weeks ago. For those that missed it, the Red Raiders bested Brentwood 21-20 Friday night.

And while Baylor was beating Brentwood, McCallie finally came alive, throwing up 423 yards of offense in a 44-26 beatdown of Battle Ground Academy

* While I’m thinking about Chattanooga Christian, the Chargers may have their first full-fledged college prospect. Wide receiver Beau Simmons, who leads the area in total catches, also plays linebacker. The junior should have recruiters making Broad Street stops next spring.

* There are 15 unbeaten teams left in Tennessee, among them Chattanooga area teams Baylor Copper Basin and Signal Mountain. Two of the classifications have just one unbeaten team – Greeneville in Class 4A and Dobyns-Bennett in Class 6A. Class 3A has the most unbeatens (four). Three teams that had been unbeaten suffered their first losses on Friday.

The unbeatens across the state by classification:

Class 1A: Copper Basin, Jo Byrns, Wayne County

Class 2A: Hampton, Signal Mountain, Trousdale County

Class 3A: Alcoa, Camden, Christian Academy of Knoxville

Class 4A: Greeneville

Class 5A: Oakland, Jackson Northside, Powell, Ridgeway

Class 6A: Dobyns-Bennett

* Area games of import the next two weeks:

Thursday at Finley Stadium — East Hamilton vs. East Ridge (6-AA).

Friday — Bledsoe County at Grundy County (7-AA), Central at Tyner (6-AA), Sequoyah at Polk County (5-AA) and McMinn County at Soddy-Daisy and Ooltewah at Bradley Central (5-AAA).

Oct. 22 — Ensworth at Baylor (DII-East/Middle); Central at East Ridge, East Hamilton at Red Bank (6-AA); Soddy-Daisy at Rhea County, Cleveland at Ooltewah (5-AAA); and in North Georgia, Ridgeland at Ringgold, Calhoun at Dade County and Dalton at LaFayette.

Oct. 23 — Tyner at Howard (could be for 6-AA championship).

Every game in 6-AA could be considered big as teams jockey for postseason berths.

* No snide remarks about the pitiful fund-raising efforts by East Hamilton football boosters this week – just a reminder to send any spare cash or even change to school principal Pam Dantzler, athletic director Brad Jackson or football coach Ted Gatewood care of the stadium fund.

Oh, what the heck. Can’t resist another barb or two. If you have an old clunker they might even take it. If they can’t sell it as a used car in a single transaction, maybe they could have a raffle or an auction. If not that then perhaps they could turn it in as scrap metal and cash. If all else fails maybe they could recruit some hard-working volunteers at Ooltewah or Grace Academy.

about Ward Gossett...

Ward Gossett is an assistant sports editor and writer for the Times Free Press. Ward has a long history in Chattanooga journalism. He actually wrote a bylined story for the Chattanooga News-Free Press as a third-grader. He Began working part-time there in 1968 and was hired full time in 1970. Ward now covers high school athletics, primarily football, wrestling and baseball and University of Tennessee at Chattanooga wrestling. Over a 40-year career, he has covered ...

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