In The Red Zone: Will We Play In December?

Monday, October 29, 2012

Division 5 Playoff Standings (Pre-Week 9).....

Well, now that we've apparently ruined the Lee-Davis student body's evening after tweeting what we believe are the latest VHSL Division 5 Rider Point standings, let's go into an explanation.

You might want to take two Advil first, to ward off the eventual headache....:)

First, the Division 5 Standings (with last week's standing in parenthesis...)

1) Hanover           26.875 (#1, down 0.411)
2) Hopewell          26.750 (#2, up 1.036)
3) Lee-Davis        26.625 (#3T, up 2.483)
4) Dinwiddie         25.500 (#3T, up 1.358)
5) Atlee                24.750 (#6, up 1.321)
6) Midlothian        24.286 (#5, up 0.786)

With John Marshall's fourth straight loss last week to Deep Run, combined with their very weak strength of schedule, they have virtually no chance of making the playoffs, especially with four of the six teams ahead of them playing head-to-head in the next two weeks, guaranteeing two teams a victory, bettering their playoff position.

This week, rather than announce "winners" and "losers", we're going to break down every team, how they got their points, and what they need to do in early November to be able to play in mid-November and beyond....

HANOVER:  (215 points in 8 games--144 for six wins, 24 for two losses, 47 bonus points based on opponent victories...)

Due to the loss to Lee-Davis in Mechanicsville Friday night, the Hawks, now 6-2, have come back to the pack in the point standings.  To clinch the top seed, they needed to win two of their last three.  Now, they probably have to win out to get a semi-final game at home, but even that is a little up in the air (especially if Hopewell knocks off Dinwiddie).  Bottom line, if Hanover can top Varina Friday, they're in, as they will be prohibitive favorites against Glen Allen November 9th.  A 7-3 finish will "likely" get the Hawks in.

That said, Friday night's loss exposed, what I believe, is Hanover's biggest concern heading into November. Through no fault of their own, due to first the Rogers freak injury and subsequent surgery, then the injury to Knizner, the Hawks have little offensive rhythm and synergy.  After eight games, a team normally has, for better or worse, a synergy to it in all three phases.  But, with Knizner and Rogers sharing QB duties for three games (that was the game plan entering the season, nothing wrong with that), then Knizner in and Rogers hurt, then Knizner hurt and neither in for most of the Henrico game (good thing they played a defense-less team that night, winning 66-37), thus throwing Travis Barton into the mix, then Rogers returning in a non-QB role until this past Friday....you get the idea.

The lack of continuity showed Friday, with Barton's struggles with snaps in the second quarter leading to Rogers going into the shotgun, but with neither player having a real chance to establish a multi-game rhythm, it was hard to establish the offense.  It showed the most in Hanover's final six drives, each of which landed them in the red zone, but they could only hit the end zone once.

This point needs to be made clear: Lee-Davis' defense is to be credited with winning that game, providing much of the reason why Hanover struggled offensively.

Hanover's defense is also to be credited, holding the Confederates to ten points, Chris Simpson nearly 50 yards below his rushing average.  Their task this Friday, stopping the Varina offense, who has scored 166 points in the last three weeks.  Varina put 27 on Lee-Davis in week four.

HOPEWELL: (214 points in 8 games--120 for five Group AAA wins, 20 for one Group AA win, 24 for two losses, 50 bonus points based on opponent victories...)

The other 6-2 team in Division 5, and the surprise one at that, the Blue Devils benefit from their early season win over a 6-2 Cosby team and by the fact that their two losses are to Meadowbrook (7-1) and, yes, Lee-Davis (5-3).  Hopewell loses four important points with their non-district victory over Brunswick, a Group AA school, only getting 20 points for defeating a school one classification lower rather than 24 for a win over a Group AAA school.  Had Hopewell defeated all Group AAA opponents?  They'd be #1 right now.

They now face, easily, their biggest test of the season, when they host Dinwiddie (5-3) this Friday.  A Blue Devil win at home would prove beyond doubt that Hopewell is for real.  They have scored 74 points the past two weeks, and Dinwiddie is proving to be more of an offensive team than defensive.  Granted, the Generals held Varina to 14 points in their week one, 14-7 loss to the Blue Devils, but in week one, sometimes offenses are not on track.

All that to say Hopewell has 20 seniors, a disciplined coach in Ricky Irby, capable playmakers, especially Reggie Butler.  A win over Dinwiddie catapults Hopewell to the #1 seed, period.  They would, then be a victory over rival Prince George away from home-field advantage, and going to Hopewell in late November is no picnic.  Just ask the 1983 and 2002 Patrick Henry Patriots....

LEE-DAVIS (213 points in 8 games--120 for five wins, 36 for three losses, 57 bonus points based on opponent victories...)

Okay, Confederates, here's the lowdown on why two teams you've defeated...ON THE FIELD...are ahead of you in VHSL rider points....which of course exposes some of the lunacy of this entire system, but that's another thread for another day.....

It is very, very difficult to outpoint a team, especially in your own district (similar schedules for 7 of 10 weeks), if they have a one-win advantage over you.  When you earn 24 points for a victory, but only 12 for a loss, 2 for every win by opponents you defeat, but 1 for every win by opponents you lose to, any disadvantage in the W-L columns is tough to overcome.  In spite of all that, the Confederates are only two points behind Hanover, one behind Hopewell.  Had Lee-Davis defeated Highland Springs, they'd be in the catbird seat, no doubt about it.

Having said all that, here's the good news.  Lee-Davis is in better shape, schedule-wise, than the teams ahead of them.  Hopewell plays a surging Dinwiddie, who endured a brutal schedule, which we'll discuss shortly, to get back into the playoff race, Hanover has Varina, but Lee-Davis gets a home date with Armstrong.  The Confederates will be heavily favored and should take the next five days and only worry about two things: Sandy and the Wildcats.

Then all that stands in the way of a definite trip to the playoffs is a win over Atlee November 9th.  It would be sweet revenge if the Confederates could win at Atlee to clinch a post-season berth, a win that could also end Atlee's season, who, of course, ended Lee-Davis' season in that double-overtime classic in the 2011 Central Region Division 5 Semifinals.

This year, though, 6-4 may not get it done.  Lee-Davis and Dinwiddie both know that.  Because Midlothian looms, and they may have a say in who gets in and who does not if they win their last two....

DINWIDDIE (204 points in 8 games--120 for five victories, 36 for three losses, 48 bonus points based on opponent victories...)

The Generals have moved from #8 in the standings to #4 in three weeks and were actually tied for third with Lee-Davis last week, falling behind the Confederates thanks to their Hanover win. As mentioned earlier, the Generals now must travel to Hopewell to give the Blue Devils their sternest test since a week four loss to Meadowbrook.  With Dinwiddie finishing the season at home against Petersburg, a win over Hopewell should just about clinch a post-season berth, as they will be prohibitively favored in their rivalry game week 10.  Most of the key players on this squad are juniors, and they have become battle tested very quickly this year, playing (and losing to) Varina, Highland Springs and Meadowbrook, teams with a combined record of 22-2 to this point.

Most "experts" placed Dinwiddie as the team most likely to prevent Hanover from repeating as Regional Champions.  Lee-Davis is certainly in the conversation now after Friday night, and Hopewell could prove it belongs with a win over these Generals.  Needless to say this will be the most important matchup between Dinwiddie and Hopewell since the 2000 Region Finals, won by Dinwiddie 28-7. Dinwiddie has won the last six matchups, Hopewell the five before that (2001-05).

ATLEE (198 points in 8 games--120 for five victories, 36 for three losses, 42 bonus points based on opponent victories...)

Boy that Freeman loss hurts. A win for Atlee at home back in week three over the Rebels would have given them 16 more points than they have now, and would be tied for second in the standings, putting Dinwiddie on the outside looking in.  But that's all water under the bridge.

Of the six teams remaining in the playoff hunt, the Raiders easily have the toughest final two hurdles. First, they must travel to Highland Springs.  The good news?  Highland Springs has defeated their other two county brethren in the Capital on the last play of the game at home.  The bad news?  The Springers will enter the game knowing a win guarantees them either a share of the Capital District title or at least the chance to play for it, and a Division 6 playoff berth, when they travel to Varina November 9th.

Bottom line?  The Springers should be ready.  It will be over two weeks since the incident that resulted in the Friday arrest of former All-Metro linebacker Marcus Logan-Baker, so distractions should be a non-factor.  They simply have too much to play for, too.  Bad news for Atlee, who still is trying to find solutions to their very porous offense. Giving up 33 points to Glen Allen and 24 to Armstrong the past two weeks doesn't give us confidence that they will stop the Springers.

But to make the playoffs a second straight year under Roscoe Johnson, they need to find a way.  A loss to Highland Springs and a win over Lee-Davis simply may be too little, too late.  They could use a rivalry upset in the Tri-Cities, either Prince George over Hopewell or Petersburg over Dinwiddie, both week 10 games on November 9th.

MIDLOTHIAN: (170 points in 7 games--96 for four Group AAA victories, 20 for one Group AA victory, 24 for two losses, 30 bonus points based on opponent victories, their game with Benedictine does not count)

For the Trojans, they are at a disadvantage for scheduling both a Group AA opponent (Powhatan, who they defeated) AND a private school (Benedictine, who they lost to).  It also doesn't help that the Dominion District is down this year, with not one but two winless teams (George Wythe and Huguenot).  They just finished a six-game homestand and finish on the road at Monacan and Manchester.  The Chiefs are 4-5, looking for a .500 season when they face the Trojans this Friday in the Monacan season finale, then Midlothian travels to rival Manchester, who will enjoy yet another winning season but their 34th consecutive non-playoff season.  The Lancers will likely be pumped to beat an arch-rival at home, especially if it helps prevent said rival from post-season play.  And it may come down to a combination of results from Midlothian/Manchester and Lee-Davis/Atlee come November 9th....

OUR GUT FEELING: The most likely scenario is that the four teams currently occupying the top four positions will stay there, meaning Hanover, Hopewell, Lee-Davis and Dinwiddie will move on and Midlothian and Atlee will not. The mystery then would be seeding; who gets the home games November 16th?  If the season ended today, Dinwiddie would travel to Hanover and Lee-Davis would return to Hopewell, where they won in week two.

But one unexpected result (an Atlee win over Highland Springs, for example) changes everything.  What if Midlothian and Atlee win out, meaning Lee-Davis ends at 6-4?  There's PLENTY to be determined....on the field, as it should be.

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