There are always unlikely teams that earn a berth in state playoffs, an unfortunate reality born of conferences and leagues that don’t always align cleanly with a team’s division.
Still, what Triton Regional High School (Byfield, Mass.) fell into in the 2018 season is a whole new level. The Vikings will take part in the Division 5 North playoffs, despite finishing the regular season with a record of 0-7.
As explained by the Boston Globe, Triton earned more power points — which decide playoff invitation and seeding — than a pair of other Division 5 North squads which actually won a game (1-6 Lynnfield High School and Watertown High School). The playoff berths are determined by a complicated power point ranking system which factors in wins and losses but also the quality of each and every opponent.
Here’s how the Globe laid out the full breakdown of which team earned spots in the forthcoming regional playoffs:
Teams get 10 points for a win over a team in their division or lower and 12 points for a win over a team in a higher division or Division 1. That’s half of the power rating formula (“own value”). The second half of the equation, “opponents value,” rewards strength of schedule. Teams get 3 points for every win by an opponent they defeated, 1 point for every win by an opponent they lost to within their own division or lower, and 1.2 points for every win by an opponent they lost to in a higher division.
These two numbers are added, then divided by the number of games played to get a team’s final power rating.
In this case, Triton’s power rating of 5.71 was slightly better than Lynnfield (5.57) and Watertown (5.00), thanks solely to the strength of its opponents in the Cape Ann League. That meant an 0-7 Triton squad would play in the playoffs, something the school’s administration thought was possible, but clearly didn’t fully believe until the playoff brackets were released.
“I think our kids are getting a lot out of this in the competition aspect, not necessarily the wins and losses standpoint,” Triton coach Ryan McCarthy told the Globe. “I have these kids that come out every day and work hard and practice hard to go out and play every Friday.
“I kind of knew that if we won at least one game that we would definitely be in the playoffs because of our strength of schedule. But the way the math worked out, we had a chance without a win.”