PAC, WCAL, OCC Playoff Chances
With only 3 weeks to go until the Ohio high school football regular season comes to a close, we can start making some realistic predictions and projections as to who could make the playoffs and who could miss out. I will be focusing on teams from the Principals Athletic Conference (PAC), Wayne County Athletic League (WCAL), and Ohio Cardinal Conference (OCC), highlighting those teams with the best chance of making the playoffs. Of course, none of this would be as easy to organize and gather information if it were not for JoeEitel.com and Drew Pasteur’s Fantastic50.net, two of the leading sources of playoff data when it comes to Ohio high school football. I would like to thank Joe and Drew for all their work, and let them know it is appreciated statewide!
Much of the information below can be found just by reading those 2 web sites, but I’ve taken the liberty of consolidating and trying to make sense of it for you. In case you’ve never used them before, JoeEitel is a super-easy web site that shows the standings for each region in terms of Harbin (“computer”) points, along with clickable schedules. Fantastic50.net is more statistical, with predictions, projections, rankings, and much more. The statistics from F50 are based on 25,000 simulations of his rankings and projections, so there is still a lot of wiggle room and room for error. But if anyone is going to have a grasp, it’s going to be Drew at F50. Take the following as a high-level look at each team’s playoff chances, not getting much into L2 points, and moreso as a guide towards what the big games are and what’s at stake for each team. Enjoy!
- Timken (0-4 PAC, 1-6 overall): 0% chance of making playoffs
- Mansfield Senior (4-0 OCC, 6-1): F50 currently has Mansfield Senior as the #3 team in Region 6, behind Toledo Central Catholic (DII #1) and Tiffin Columbian (Mansfield Senior’s only loss). That is the same order the top 3 go in the region in terms of playoff points, as well. Obviously Senior’s wins over Ashland and West Holmes were big the last 2 weeks, but they still have to face 5-2 Lexington and 6-1 Madison after a week 8 showdown with Wooster. Senior will be favored in the rest of their games. Shockingly, if Senior was to drop 2 of their final 3, they would only have a 49% chance of making it in. But as long as they beat Wooster and 1 of either Lexington/Madison, they are 99% likely to get in. Win out, and Senior is 100% guaranteed a home game. But lose 1 more, and their odds of a home game drop to 32%. My Prediction: Wins out, hosts 1st round playoff game.
- Mansfield Madison (3-1 OCC, 6-1): Madison is 2 spots below Senior in the region rankings by F50 (sandwiching Avon), making them the #5 team in the region. They currently sit at 6th in computer points. The Rams have some tough games to finish the season. This week they have Orrville who showed signs of improvement (in the score at least) last week against Ashland. Then Madison has a close one with Ashland and then the season finale against Mansfield Senior. Of course, if they win out, they’re in 100%. But according to F50, if they lose only 1 of their remaining games, they’d only have a 57% chance to make the playoffs. Of course, it depends who they lose to. If they beat Orrville and lose 1 of their final 2, it drops below 57%. If Madison loses 2 of their final 3, they’ll be out of luck, or need some, with a 7% chance. Even if Madison wins out, they still only have a 62% chance of a home game in the 1st round. My Prediction: Drops 2 of last 3, misses playoffs.
- Lexington (3-1 OCC, 5-2): The Minutemen are ranked by F50 2 spots below Madison, just below Perrysburg. If the season ended today, Lexington would be sitting at home, as they currently sit in the #11 spot. Also not boding well for them is their remaining schedule: 6-1 West Holmes, 6-1 Mansfield Senior, and 4-3 Ashland, quite possibly the top 3 teams in the conference. Lexington will be the underdog in all 3 of their remaining games (but that could change if they beat West Holmes this week). Lexington must win out to have an 89% chance of making it. If they drop only 1 game, the percentage falls to 5%. It’s not looking good for Lex. My Prediction: Upsets 1 of last 3 opponents, misses playoffs.
- Ashland (2-2 OCC, 4-3): Dropping back-to-back games to West Holmes and Mansfield Senior really hurt the Arrows’ chances. F50 currently has Ashland ranked as the #7 best team in the very tough Region 7. Unfortunately for Ashland, they are way down in 14th in terms of computer points. It’s very simple for them – win out, and they have a 69% shot, which is in their favor but still not great. But lose 1 more game, and it drops all the way to 3%. Ashland still has Madison and Lexington on their schedules. Their remaining games are winnable; but everyone is fighting for those final playoff spots, and anything can happen. My Prediction: Drops 1 to either Madison or Lex, misses playoffs.
- Wooster (1-3 OCC, 2-5): 0% chance of making playoffs
- CVCA (2-2 PAC, 3-4): Losing to Fairless last week killed CVCA. They’ve dropped to the 21st ranked team in Region 9 by F50, and currently are at the 18-spot in playoff points. CVCA has to win out against Tusky Valley, Timken, and Manchester (very doable), but even then they’d only have a 16% chance of playing in week 11. My Prediction: Loses to Manchester in the finale, misses playoffs.
- West Holmes (3-1 OCC, 6-1): The WH Knights are in a pretty stacked region, but thankfully for them, the best team (Mooney) may not even make the playoffs. With that said, West Holmes is ranked as the 4th best team in Region 11 behind Mooney, Marlington, and Dover, and just ahead of Steubenville. The Knights sit at the #2 spot in computer points. According to F50, West Holmes could lose out and still have a 62% shot at making it to the postseason. Win at least 1 game the rest of the year, and their chances are 98% or greater. Their chances for a home game are pretty good, as well, most certainly (99%) hosting if they win out, and likely (79%) if they win 2 of 3 against Lexington, Wooster, and Clear Fork. This week’s game against Lex will be their biggest test, but Wooster could push them to their limits, as well. The Knights are in good shape, though. My Prediction: Wins out, hosts 1st round playoff game.
- Norwayne (4-0 WCAL, 7-0): This is probably the most exciting region locally, with 6 teams fighting for spots. Norwayne is the cream of the crop, though. The Bobcats currently sit at the #3 spot in playoff points, but their 3 toughest league opponents (Smithville, Hillsdale, Northwestern) make up the rest of their schedule. Norwayne is ranked the #2 team in the region by F50, behind Brookfield, who Norwayne hammered in the 1st round last year, 42-7. If Norwayne loses out (somehow), they’d still have a 53% chance to make it. But as long as they win at least 1 more game, which they should, they are 98%+ likely. The more relevant discussion is their chance for a home game. Basically, win 2 of 3, and they host (99%), but if they only win 1 more, their chances drop to 32%. My Prediction: Wins out, hosts 1st round playoff game.
- Northwestern (4-0 WCAL, 6-1): After the Huskies’ big win over Hillsdale last week, they have climbed both in computer points (6th) and in F50’s ranking amongst region members (3rd). Still left to play for Northwestern are Waynedale, Rittman, and Norwayne. Obviously they are favored to win at least 2 of 3 (77% to make playoffs, 1% home playoff game). But if they happen to upset Norwayne and win out, they will 100% make it to the playoffs and be 98% likely to host a 1st round game. As long as nothing drastic happens in weeks 8 or 9 (finishing with 7 wins would still give 50% playoff shot), the Huskies will be just fine. However, the most likely team for them to face in the 1st round is Norwayne, @ Norwayne, which would be a rematch of the week before. My Prediction: Loses to Norwayne, makes playoffs and possibly travels to Norwayne again.
- Triway (3-1 PAC, 5-2): Losing last week to Indian Valley really put Triway in a bind. After 7 weeks, Triway is ranked the #5 team in Region 13 behind Brookfield, Norwayne, Northwestern, and Liberty. However, the Titans are only in 8th in terms of computer points. This week’s game against Manchester is for all the marbles when it comes to the playoffs (and as some think, the PAC). If Triway wins their final 3 games, F50 has them having a 99% chance of making the playoffs. But if they slip up just once, those odds fall all the way to 30%. At this point, a home game is the least of the Titans’ worries, but winning out would give them a 36% chance to host in week 11. My Prediction: Wins out, makes the playoffs.
- Tuslaw (2-2 PAC, 4-3): Tuslaw is the 11th ranked team in Region 13 according to F50. They’re in 10th place in playoff points, as well. Even so, the Mustangs still have a shot at the playoffs. A pretty good shot, actually. The remaining schedule for Tuslaw is not too daunting with Timken and Fairless, but they do have a challenging game against Indian Valley, a game in which the Mustangs will be favored over the Braves, but slightly. If Tuslaw does happen to win out, they will have a 91% chance of making the playoffs. However, if they happen to lose to Indian Valley (or get upset by Fairless), their chances drop all the way to 18%. So basically, Tuslaw’s playoff chances come down to week 9 when they travel to Indian Valley. My Prediction: Wins out, beating Indian Valley, makes playoffs.
- Manchester (3-1 PAC, 4-3): Who would have thought coming into the season that Manchester would be ranked 12th (by F50) in the region’s best teams? And after 7 weeks, they’d be at that same spot – 12th – in playoff points? It’s definitely not a position the Panthers are used to, but they’re still a good, dangerous team. Thankfully for Manchester, they play some good teams in the last 3 weeks that, if they won, would help them make up some ground. They host Triway (5-2) this week, Fairless in week 9, and DIII CVCA in week 10. If Manchester wins out, according to F50 they’d be in 100%, with even a 60% chance of a home game. But if they drop just 1 game to either Triway or CVCA, their chances drop to 44%. I’m sure that if this happens, it would all depend on which of the 2 teams – Triway or CVCA – Manchester lost to, and what other 2nd level teams did. My Prediction: Loses to Triway, wins last 2, misses playoffs.
- Orrville (0-4 OCC, 1-6): 0% chance of making playoffs
- Fairless (2-2 PAC, 3-4): Even with their upset win last week over CVCA, the Fairless Falcons are in bad shape in terms of the playoffs. They currently are in 17th in playoff points; and unless they’ve gotten a lot better since I saw them, they have very few winnable games left. According to F50, they have a 16% chance of making the playoffs if they win out, which they will not do with Indian Valley, Manchester, and Tuslaw waiting for them. My Prediction: Loses 3 of 3, misses playoffs.
- Chippewa (1-3 WCAL, 1-6): 0% chance of making playoffs
- Clear Fork (0-4 OCC, 2-5): If Clear Fork wins out, they only have an 8% chance of making the playoffs. Their final 3 opponents are Ashland, Orrville, and West Holmes. They may not win 1 more game in that stretch, let alone 3. My Prediction: Loses out, or maybe wins against Orrville, misses playoffs.
- Indian Valley (2-2 PAC, 3-4): Indian Valley fans knew last week that they had to beat Triway to have a chance at the playoffs (and a share of the PAC), and they did just that, winning 33-32 in the final minutes. F50 has Indian Valley ranked as the 9th best team in the region, while they are currently in 9th in computer points, as well. IV’s remaining schedule consists of Fairless (win), Tuslaw (toss-up), and Tusky Valley (likely win). Basically it all comes down to that Tuslaw game, if they want to be sure. If Indian Valley wins out and finishes 6-4, they will be guaranteed a playoff spot at 100%. And get this – if they finish 5-5 (assuming a loss to Tuslaw), they still have an 80% chance of making the playoffs! Last week’s game was huge for the Braves. Obviously that stat takes into consideration a lot of other projections of a lot of other teams inside and outside the region. But if there’s any predictor tool that we can go by, it’s F50. If IV loses 2 more, they only have 13% odds to survive. My Prediction: Loses to Tuslaw, finishes 5-5, barely makes playoffs.
- Tusky Valley (2-2 PAC, 3-4): If I had to chose a “most improved” team in the PAC from week 1 ’til now, it’d be Tusky Valley. However, it may have been too little too late. They have put themselves in about as good of a situation as they could have hoped for after the first 4 games. If they win out, the Trojans will have an astounding 88% chance to make the playoffs. If they lose only 1 game, it drops all the way to 4%. With CVCA, Triway, and Indian Valley all remaining on their schedule, it makes sense why they can still make it if they win out. But winning out against that slate is not only very unlikely, but they may not win another game. My Prediction: Loses out, misses playoffs.
- Hillsdale (3-1 WCAL, 5-2): Going into week 7, Hillsdale was in prime shape. However, after getting beat in what some considered a slight upset by Northwestern, the Falcons now must have a little sense of urgency. Hillsdale is still ranked as the 4th best team by F50 but dropped to 6th in playoff points. Okay, so maybe there’s not too much urgency in Jeromesville. Even if they lose out, they are more likely than not (57%) going to make the playoffs. If they go 1-2 in the final 3 weeks, their chances rise to 82%, and if they win out, including a win over Norwayne, they’d obviously be in 100%. The only way they can earn a home game is by winning out, giving them only a 58% chance at a home game. Okay – Hillsdale’s other 2 opponents are 1-6 Rittman and 1-6 Chippewa, so they don’t have much to worry about, other than going for that chance at a home game. My Prediction: Goes 2 of 3, loses to Norwayne, makes playoffs.
- Smithville (2-2 WCAL, 3-4): The Smithies are the 15th ranked team in Region 19, according to F50, and the computer points have them currently in 19th. That’s not a great spot for Smithville, obviously, and it shows in the numbers. Even winning the rest of their games, including a win over Norwayne, they still would only have a 21% chance of making the playoffs, 1% if they lose any games the rest of the way. They already played Northwestern and Hillsdale, so Norwayne is the only game left where they’ll be the underdog. But even then, I don’t think it matters. My Prediction: Goes 2-1, loses to Norwayne, misses playoffs.
- Waynedale (0-4 WCAL, 0-7): 0% chance of making playoffs
- Rittman (1-3 WCAL, 1-6): 0% chance of making playoffs
- Dalton (1-3 WCAL, 2-5): 0% chance of making playoffs
As I mentioned before, all these numbers are strictly statistical simulations based on a mathematic ranking formula, so there are obvious opportunities for your favorite team to do exactly what they’re supposed to do and still not get the expected results, whether it be good or bad. So keep the faith, no matter your situation! Having said that, Fantastic50.net has proven to be one of if not the most accurate predictor of Ohio high school football games, even out-guessing the famous Calpreps website, consistently. Check F50 and JoeEitel regularly for updates.
What it all comes down to, though, is not numbers. It comes down to high school kids putting in their greatest effort, putting it all on the line, and making memories on Friday nights under the lights. That’s all we can ask of all our kids, win or lose. Let’s take these last 3 weeks of the regular season, and the next 5 weeks of the playoffs, and enjoy the game of high school football for what it is! Good luck to all the teams listed above, and all other teams elsewhere!