We’ll call this a win for Section 1 football.
The regular season concluded over the weekend and there was nary a complaint from area coaches about seeding entering this week’s playoff qualifying round.
(Applause from the chorus.)
This, of course, is noteworthy only because of the hubbub last year. Back then, the conversation drifted from the excitement of the postseason to whether teams were properly bracketed, if the seeding formula was applied correctly or if it even made sense. That weekend turned many of us into mathematicians… or confused math students.
But, at a glance, it appears these rankings add up.
Not that arithmetic factored much for Arlington High School. With a spotless record, the Admirals earned the top spot in Class AA for the first time in program history and will host 16th-seeded Mount Vernon at 6 p.m. Friday.
Sounds about right.
The winners of these matchups advance to the following week’s Section 1 tournament — the official start of the playoffs.
The formula last season involved adding a team’s winning percentage to the winning percentages of the teams it beat and subtracting the losing percentages of the teams it lost to. Then, multiplying that sum by the “multiplier” number assigned to the team based on its preseason ranking.
The math still is complicated, but this time, Arlington coach Mike Morano said, more emphasis was put on how a team’s opponents performed during the season as a strength-of-schedule gauge, making the preseason multiplier less of a factor. The Admirals took issue with being seeded eighth last season. Morano was an assistant under Dominick DeMatteo then, but just as perturbed. There was greater transparency this year, he said, and the new system is “more equitable.”
“The coaches had more input this time,” Section 1 football coordinator Chuck Scarpulla said of the tweak to the formula. “It took into account the preseason rankings, weighted with how the teams did. I think the coaches like this, certainly more than they did the (previous) couple years.”
And with that, the focus can shift back to what is meant to be an exciting weekend of football. Several coaches said they started reviewing film of their opponents early Sunday morning.
The fun in a cluster of games such as these, with one contest having so much meaning, is the possibility of upsets. For the supporters of the higher-seeded teams, along with elation comes a bit of tension in understanding that an amazing season can be derailed with a misstep. For the lower seeds, there’s hope. The record might suggest their season essentially ended weeks ago, but the qualifying round puts a brass ring within reach.
“We know we’re not the team people are gonna bet on,” Ketcham coach Bryan Hogan said, “but we have nothing to lose.”
Few would (or should) bet on the Indians (1-5) against Scarsdale, but we’re saying there’s a chance. Ketcham has blown leads and lost three games in the second half, including Saturday against Spring Valley. It took a last-minute touchdown for Arlington to edge them last month. So their problem isn’t a dearth of talent.
And with a receiver like Zaahir Woody, a game-breaker who routinely makes spectacular plays, the Indians have quick-strike ability. That alone makes them dangerous.
Conversely, John Jay coach Tom O’Hare said, “a high seed has never gotten us a win.”
The Patriots entered a rebuilding phase after reaching the section final last season, but the construction obviously was rapid. They rebounded from their only loss, to Arlington, and won three straight, convincingly.
Lourdes, too, progressed as the season did and finished with a flurry, beating its last three opponents by an average of 34 points.
“We’re progressing and coming into our own a lot like last season,” said Lourdes receiver Corey Mullaly, whose team embarked on a surprise run to the state final a year ago. “After losing so many guys, it’s taken a while to get healthy and craft our identity. But I feel we’re coming along and it couldn’t have come at a better time.”
Beacon enjoyed a 39-0 romp over Lincoln on Saturday in which it dominated on the ground. The Bulldogs had worked extensively on that aspect of their offense so this, coach Tony Truscello said, “was an encouraging sight heading into the playoffs.”
And, of course, the view is often a bit different from up top. Arlington, which went 6-0 for the first time since 1992, is the squad bearing the target. It’s already been that way in recent weeks, Morano said, and he expects Mount Vernon (1-5) to have the verve of a second seed. The actual No. 2 is defending champion New Rochelle (6-0), by the way.
“This week is overwhelmingly positive,” Morano said. “The fact we still have 16 teams playing meaningful games has got to be exciting for all these communities.”
Certainly so for Arlington.
Top Week Six game
New Paltz 34, Marlboro 7 — The score wasn’t close, nor was it a dramatic victory. And that’s what made it more special for New Paltz as the Huguenots beat Marlboro for the first time since the 2010 Section 9 Class B final. The Iron Dukes have since gone on to win the last five section titles. But New Paltz’s lines dominated and cousins Kenny and Jimmy Verney combined for five touchdowns.
Week Six scoreboard
Top Week Seven matchup
Spackenkill at Liberty, Saturday at 1:30 p.m. — The Spartans (5-1) rolled on Friday against Ellenville, after pulling off a dramatic one-point upset of O’Neill the previous week. Liberty (5-1), until its loss to O’Neill on Friday, had been the most dominant team in Section 9 Class B Division 2. With both teams jockeying for seeding entering the playoffs, this game will prove vital.
Week Seven schedule
Mount Vernon at Arlington, 6 p.m.
Port Chester at John Jay, 7 p.m.
Ketcham at Scarsdale, 7 p.m.
Beacon at Somers, 7 p.m.
Walter Panas at Lourdes, 7 p.m.
Roosevelt at Middletown, 7 p.m.
Highland at Marlboro, 7 p.m.
Burke at Millbrook, 7 p.m.
Poughkeepsie at Saugerties, 1:30 p.m.
New Paltz at Red Hook, 1:30 p.m.
Pine Plains at Rondout Valley, 1:30 p.m.
Spackenkill at Liberty, 1:30 p.m.
Roscoe at Haldane, 6:30 p.m.
Three of the top football performances in Week Six. Nominate performances by using #PJTop3 on Twitter.
Tristen Schiafo, Red Hook: The junior rushed for 174 yards and a touchdown and, at outside linebacker, made a career-high 23 tackles in a loss to Saugerties.
Kumar Singh, New Paltz: He caught a 52-yard touchdown pass and played excellent coverage in the secondary to help contain Marlboro’s offense in a win.
Ricardo Yolas, Arlington: He scored three touchdowns in a win over Fox Lane, giving Arlington the top seed in Section 1 Class AA.
Football Huddle appears every Monday in the Poughkeepsie Journal, breaking down the weekly stories on the gridiron. Stephen Haynes: firstname.lastname@example.org, 845-437-4826, Twitter: @StephenHaynes4