After totaling up 1,178 yards of total offense, 100 points, 64 first downs, and six turnovers Friday night, I figured why not continue burning the midnight oil and start calculating playoff possibilities?
Thanks to the long drive home from Graham, I was afforded plenty of time to work out the scenarios needed for the Brownwood Lions and Early Longhorns to navigate their way into the postseason.
With both teams coming off losses to previous one-win teams, each program is likely worried about nothing more than getting back in the win column this coming Friday. But here’s a look at the bigger picture for both teams over the final two weeks of the regular season.
Despite having the worse district record of the two teams, Early (3-5, 1-3) currently has a clearer path to the playoffs than Brownwood (3-5, 1-2).
But let’s start with District 2-3A, where no team has clinched a postseason berth yet and only Breckenridge (1-6, 0-3) has been eliminated. For the Lions to find themselves in the playoffs they either have to win out and have Graham lose at least one game, or split their last two — with the win coming in the regular-season finale — and have Graham drop its last two.
Brownwood closes with a home date against Sweetwater (7-1, 3-0) this Friday, then heads to Snyder (5-3, 1-2) for the regular season finale. With the struggles the Lions have experienced during district play, both games will be a challenge.
Graham battles Abilene Wylie (6-2, 3-0) on Friday, so a loss is possible there, but closes with Breckenridge.
There’s only one way the Lions can be involved in a tiebreaker of any fashion with Graham (2-6, 1-2) and reach the postseason — due to Friday’s 18-point loss, which exceeds the maximum 14-point total credited to a District 2-3A team in a points tiebreaker.
If Brownwood wins out, Graham wins out and Sweetwater drops its last two, the three teams would be tied for second place. The Lions could get in as the third place team if they defeat Sweetwater by 11 points. Graham is at +7 and finished with both teams and Sweetwater also is at +7. The Lions, meanwhile are at -14. An 11-point win over Sweetwater would give the Lions -3 points to Sweetwater’s -4 and allow the Lions to surpass the Mustangs.
Now let’s look at some other scenarios:
If the Lions were to win out, they would be in the playoffs if Graham drops a game as Brownwood would have the better district record (two losses to three). The Lions also could still grab the top Division II seed in that scenario if Sweetwater falls to both the Lions and Abilene Wylie.
As for possible three-way tiebreakers, the Lions, Graham and Abilene Wylie all could finish with two district losses and tie for second place. If that were to occur, though, the Lions would be the odd team out as they lost to both Graham and Wylie.
Another scenario could have the Lions, Graham and Snyder tied for third place with three losses if each team splits its last two games.
If that situation arose, Graham is currently +10 and done with both teams, Snyder is at +4 and Brownwood is at -14. Even if Brownwood defeated Snyder by the maximum number of points, the best the Lions could finish with is 0 and Graham would again have with the highest point total and advance.
The notion that Brownwood would still be okay if it loses to Sweetwater this week is only true if Graham loses both of its remaining games. In that scenario, Graham would finish with four district losses while Brownwood and Snyder would have three district defeats, if the Lions win the regular season finale against the Tigers. The Lions would then advance on the head-to-head tiebreaker over Snyder.
While the possibility certainly exists for Graham to drop the last two — after all the Steers had just one win before Friday — the Lions can’t count on that happening.
Brownwood’s approach must be a do-or-die mentality. And though the season has had more than its share of bumps in the road, there is still a path for the Lions to take to the postseason.
Over in District 8-2A, the situation is a little simpler, but the Longhorns several a major blow with Friday night’s stunning 39-38 loss at Comanche.
What looked to be a head-to-head showdown to determine the third seed between Early (3-5, 1-3) and Coleman (6-2, 2-2) this Friday night is no longer the case.
Comanche (2-7, 2-3) has leaped into the picture and the Indians close their regular season Friday against San Saba. With a win, Comanche would finish with no worse than three district losses.
The best Early can finish with is three district defeats, so a fourth district loss to Coleman would eliminate the Longhorns.
Coleman, meanwhile, would clinch the district’s final playoff spot with a victory over Early as it would have just two district losses with one game to go. With a win over Early, the worse the Bluecats could finish with would be three losses, but it owns the head-to-head edge over Comanche.
In order for Early to keep its playoff hopes alive, it must beat Coleman by at least eight points, then defeat Dublin in Week 10.
Assuming Comanche takes care of San Saba, Early beats Coleman and Dublin, and Coleman then rebounds and upends San Saba in Week 10, there would be a three-way tie for third place.
In the District 8-2A points tiebreaker — which has a ceiling of 15 points — Coleman currently is at +15 after its blowout win over Comanche, the Indians are at +1 and Early is at -1. Comanche’s points can’t change as it has played both opponents, which means the Indians are out of the equation in a three-way tie.
The magic number of eight points in an Early victory would then result in Coleman dropping to +7 in the point total, while the Longhorns would climb to +7. The head-to-head result would then take over and Early would get the nod.
Bangs (7-2, 5-0) and Brady (8-0, 4-0) wrapped up two of the district’s three playoff berths Friday night and will play for the district championship on Nov. 7. The Dragons have their district bye this Friday.
While the possibilities and scenarios seem mind-boggling today, the playoff picture should be clearer after Week 9. Check back next weekend and we’ll see how things shape up for all the area teams with one regular season game remaining.