As first reported here, this is the weekend in which Daylight Savings Time mercifully ends and we can all set our clocks back one hour.
Doing so coincides each year with the mid-point of the high school football playoffs, a subject ripe for dissection.
Again this year the desire to stuff as many teams into as many slots (and thus, as many dollars as possible into the coffers and as many feathers into the coaching resumes as possible) is once again in full view.
A total of 192 schools qualified in the six classes again this year and again this year there are more than a handful of head-scratchers.
Although not as obscene as in the past two seasons, the system is still chock-full of teams with losing records. The first round opens with 32 teams having records of 4-5, three with marks of 3-6 and 4A schools Sioux City West and Mason City in the field despite 2-7 records.
SC West will travel three hours or more to face Dowling Catholic (9-0) while Mason City travels to SE Polk (6-3), where last year the 1-8 Mohawks were trounced 61-7. Hmmm.
One-way trips of at least 100 miles color the brackets. Given a 7 p.m. kickoff on a Wednesday night, a team with a 100-mile one-way trip can expect to return home around midnight. Many schools will return home at 1 a.m. or later.
After spreading nine games over nine weeks, teams that advance to the semifinals will play three times in 10 nights (Oct. 30, Nov. 4 and Nov. 8). The main reason for the compressed schedule is easily identifiable: too many teams qualify.
Call me an ogre if you want, but I would like a return to a 16-team field. Of course, that has as much chance of happening as the elimination of one entire class does.
There is simply too much money to be made and too many coaches (it was the IFBCA who pushed the expansion on the IAHSAA, who happily went along) who want "I took us to the playoffs" on their resume.
Keep adding water to the pot and soon you have broth, not stew.
More than half of the teams who played Wednesday did so with at least three losses on their schedule. Barring a beat-each-other up district, no one with a record that is worse than 7-2 deserves to keep playing, and I make no apology to anyone who feels such an opinion is overly harsh.
For years the conference system, with playoff points based partly on the class of the opponent, served the state quite well.
There were some who cried foul, saying it was unfair to some of the schools, and so our district system was installed. The cure for the old way was simple: Want to qualify, get better. No excuses.
How is that different from now? You still have to play well … oh wait, if the right scenario falls into place you can hang a banner in your gym after having a three-win season! Oh the pride.
The Woodward-Granger gridders lost a huge chunk of their firepower to graduation but still managed to make the Class A playoffs at 6-3. As of this writing I hope I will be driving somewhere Monday to follow them as such would imply a win, at Malvern (coverage in the Nov. 8 Chief) Oct. 30.
True, in the system I wish for a return to the Hawks would not have qualified, but the rules are what they are and I hope W-G was victorious.
I would have been just as happy had Perry been a qualifier at 5-4 or 6-3 instead of missing out at 4-5, but that does not change my opinion: 32 teams per class in a state this small is too many.
Cookies to the Hawks for overcoming the loss of several all-state players and making the postseason for the sixth consecutive season.
Cookies to the Bluejays for ending their season on a three-game winning streak. Wins in the Cowbell Game and over ADM were highlights, and the team was in position for wins in all games save Harlan. Well done coaches and players.
Crumbs to the World Series. Boston is, hands down, my least favorite team in the American League and my disdain for St. Louis is lifelong. It is terrible when you cannot watch the fall classic because we want both teams to lose!
Crumbs to unsportsmanlike conduct. Perry was flagged, by my count, for 10 personal fouls this year, nine of which — again, by my count — were for unsportsmanlike conduct. Those flags are almost always thrown for foul language or reckless behavior and make the team look bad. When I played such a flag meant you spent the weekend praying your imminent suffering at Monday’s practice would, somehow, be survivable. There is no excuse for 10 such flags and here is hoping there is no such repeat next season.
Finally, cookies to the Perry cheerleaders. It is nice to see lifts, tosses and more acrobatics reintroduced to their routine. Great job ladies!