Wahconah, Taconic Seeded First in Football Playoffs
NORTHAMPTON, Mass. -- For the Lee High football team this fall, eight was too much.
The Wildcats just missed the cut for the four-team Western Massachusetts Division 4A playoffs when the pairings were announced Sunday morning at Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School.
The difference between Lee and No. 4 Pioneer Valley ended up being the fact the Wildcats played an eight-game schedule, finishing 4-4. Pioneer Valley played just seven games and went 5-2.
That gave the Panthers a winning percentage of 71.4 percent, enough of a boost to lift them over Lee in the Walker System ratings used to stratify playoff eligible teams.
The Walker System looks at three factors: winning percentage, strength of schedule and record against playoff qualifying opponents.
In two of those areas, Lee had the upper hand, but in the final analysis that weights all three factors, Pioneer Valley ended up with a Walker rating of 86.57 -- just barely ahead of Lee’s 86.15.
“There was a huge separation in the winning percentage department,” playoff committee member Adam Frenier told his colleagues in announcing the final scores. “It was a difficult situation because they played many of the same teams and beat many of the same teams. But that’s how it broke down.”
While the Lee-Pioneer Valley margin was the narrowest among 20 teams that qualified among four divisions, Berkshire County also has the distinction of posting one of the widest margins among qualified teams.
Wahconah (7-1) was seeded first in Division 4 with a whopping 125.65 Walker points, the highest point total of any team in Western Mass and nearly 30 points higher than second-seeded South Hadley (97.59).
In all, three county teams will take the field on Friday night on the road to Gillette Stadium, site of the Dec. 3 state championships.
No. 1 Wahconah opens with No. 4 Frontier (5-2) in D4. In Division 4A, No. 2 Mount Greylock (8-0) will host second-seeded Ware (6-1) in a rematch of a game the Mounties won in Ware on Sept. 23, 34-27, Mount Greylock’s narrowest win of the year. In Division 3, top seed Taconic (7-1) will host Easthampton (4-4).
Taconic edged out second-seeded Northampton (6-2) on Friday night when the Blue Devils lost to West Springfield, a game that had even bigger implications in Division 2, where the Terriers clinched the No. 4 seed with that victory.
Speaking of teams that clinched on Friday, the only .500 team in any of the four Western Mass fields, Easthampton, started the year 0-4, won its last four and got help from three other teams on Friday to get into the playoffs.
The full Walker Ratings (Playoff qualified teams rated; top four teams reach the playoffs):
1. Chicopee Comp (7-1), 114.74 points
2. Springfield Central (6-2), 109.95
3. Westfield (7-1), 108.92
4. West Springfield (6-2), 101.01
5. Agawam (4-4), 90.73
6. Amherst (4-4), 74.65
1. Taconic (7-1), 108.61
2. Northampton (6-2), 107.43
3. Longmeadow (4-3), 106.42
4. Easthampton (4-4), 77.54
1. Wahconah (7-1), 125.65
2. South Hadley (5-3), 97.59
3. Palmer (7-1), 96.92
4. Frontier (5-2), 93.37
5. Athol (5-3), 86.47.
1. Turners Falls (8-0), 121.21
2. Mount Greylock (8-0), 108.50
3. Ware (6-1), 97.57
4. Pioneer Valley (5-2), 86.57
5. Lee (4-4), 86.15.