OPINION: It's all about the strength of schedule
The first set of Northern Section prep football playoff points were released on Sunday.
I've been staring at them for six hours, and I'm still trying to figure out this system.
With 10 of our teams vying for postseason spots every year, you would think we would have this down by now, but it's quite the complicated process.
In Division II, Sutter sits at No. 1, and with two inferior teams remaining on the Huskies' schedule, they will likely wrap up the regular season as the top seed in the bracket.
But here's where things get a little hairy:
The No. 2 seed is Central Valley (4-4). A 4-4 team is No. 2?
While the team's record isn't all that impressive, an undefeated league record and strength of schedule — which includes varying calculations of points, enrollment size of each school and win-loss records, and they may as well throw in strength of mascot — allowed the Falcons to leap frog four 6-2 teams.
I can't knock the Northern Section too much here; at least the system is meticulous and accounts for absolutely everything, including the kitchen sink.
The only issue is that Central Valley is the No. 2 seed based solely on the fact that the Falcons beat West Valley (7-1), a team some think could still be the best in the section.
The fact that Sutter beat Central Valley 30-3 in the second game of the season either reveals how much the Falcons have improved over the course of the year or that West Valley (7-1) just had a bad day.
Either way, it throws a wrench into the plans of teams like No. 4 Wheatland (6-2), No. 5 Orland (6-2) and No. 6 Live Oak (6-2), all of which have better records, but all played weaker opponents.
It's an old argument in sports: Do you reward a team like Boise State when going undefeated, even though the Broncos played weak opponents? Or do you give Alabama the spot with three losses because the Tide plays a tougher schedule?
In life, do you reward the kid who had a tough upbringing and hard road for earning Bs? Or do you reward the kid who had the silver spoon and an easy road for earning As?
The Northern Section leans toward strength of schedule, or road, on this one.
Even No. 7 Lassen (3-5) sits ahead of No. 8 Yreka (6-2), predicated on that argument.
There are no real head-scratchers in Division III or Division IV.
Pierce is clearly the overall No. 1 — for now.
The Bears have their two most difficult games on their schedule to end the season — No. 2 Willows (5-3) and Live Oak.
If the Bears can somehow get past both opponents, they won't only lock up that No. 1 seed, they may just move up in the Cal-Hi Sports State Bowl rankings as well.
While Sutter, which sits at No. 5 in Division III of the rankings, would need to stay unbeaten and win a section title just to make a push into the top 3, and hope a couple of teams ahead of them lose, the Bears could finish up their regular season unbeaten and likely move up a spot or two in Division IV based on their strength of schedule — you see, everyone accounts for it.