View From the Press Box: Dion Clisso 10/8

Dion Clisso

By Dion Clisso PrepsKC Managing Editor
Posted: October 9, 2012 - 10:33 AM

We are seven weeks into the season, and the new playoff system in Missouri has taken shape. What shape that will be in two weeks nobody knows, but we are starting to see some trends.
My concern with the new system was that teams could schedule their way to higher seeds. It would be easy to play teams in your class or a class higher that weren’t very good and pad your record with bonus point wins. At the same time you could play down just to get wins because playing down doesn’t hurt you.
What we have found is teams can play up, lose and still do well in the district standings without even winning a game. There is no magic bullet here, no one way to focus on building your program to get the top seed in this crazy post season football tournament.
Let’s take a look at a few districts. Let’s start in Class 4. This is easily my favorite class and district for all of the crazy things going on. My favorite of course District 4 not only because Webb City is undefeated and currently the No. 2 seed but because of the powerhouse that is West Plains.
I’m kidding of course because West Plains is 0-7 but somehow they are moving up the standings week by week. Last week West Plains stood at 0-6 having been beaten soundly in every game since a week No. 1 26-21 loss to Waynesville. The Zizzers (one of my favorite mascots by the way) fell to Springfield Kickapoo 42-12 last week and promptly moved from the sixth spot to the fifth spot behind Republic.
Yes that is right, they lost huge and moved up. In fact there are three teams behind West Plains that have all won games. Carl Junction, McDonald County and Marshfield are all 2-5 but find themselves looking up at the Zizzers. This week West Plains takes on a 6-1 Class 5 Springfield Parkview and another big loss looks imminent.
What is the secret to West Plains’ success? Well it has only played one Class 4 team all season. In fact they close out the regular season with Class 5 Rolla who might interrupt the Zizzers winless march up the seedings because Rolla is also winless to this point.
Given the bonus points there is a distinct possibility that West Plains could finish the season at 0-9 at worst and 1-8 at best and end up hosting a playoff game. I’m sure that is what MSHSAA had intended with this fantastic system designed to keep bad teams from making the playoffs or getting an advantage.
OK, that’s one district. How about the Class 5 District 8 that features Kearney, St. Joseph Central, Staley, Park Hill South, Park Hill and Oak Park at 0-5. The Northmen are holding down the bottom spot, but after that it gets crazy. Staley has a slight edge (less than a point) on Kearney. After that it is Park Hill South, St. Joseph Central and Park Hill.
Park Hill plays St. Joseph Central this week and depending on how that game comes out along with Park Hill South at Liberty North on Thursday, Park Hill and Park Hill South could be in the No. 4 and 5 spots heading into the final week.
While that may not seem like that big of a deal it could provide for an interesting close to the season. You see Park Hill and Park Hill South close out the regular season against each other and the outcome of that game could just flip the spots meaning the teams could play in back to back weeks.
Let that sink in. What should be the biggest game of the regular season for both schools could turn into a glorified practice game. If I was a coach of either team I might not play my starters very long for two reasons. I wouldn’t want to get anybody hurt and I wouldn’t want to show anything that might help me win the next week when I enter the tournament.
The problem is there seems to be no rhyme or reason as to what helps or hurts a team. Wins on the field should help but a loss to a good team is sometimes better than a win over a smaller team or a team that hasn’t won many games.
If there was only a way to have teams all play each other and decide it on the field? Where could we ever find a system like that? Oh I don’t know, maybe in some far away land like Iowa or Texas. That seems very far away. They probably don’t have any form of communication that goes that far. But what do I know? I’m just a reporter, not a school superintendent.