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The further this years high school football season moves on, the more scared I get.
I shudder at the thought that the two best teams in Queens or teams that were considered the two strongest in the borough before the season began might miss out on the citywide playoffs altogether. And no matter how many people try to tell me otherwise, the Public School Athletic League would be directly to blame.
When the PSAL instituted its revamped power points system a few years ago, I was all for it. In theory, it is supposed to level the playing field for all teams throughout the five boroughs, but actually it puts some teams, teams like Bayside and Martin, at a disadvantage.
Bayside and Martin are quality football programs, no matter how you slice it. But the way the PSAL has set up its schedule, Bayside and Martin predominantly play against the best teams in the city, something that simply seems too much to bear.
The Commodores, for instance, lost back-to-back games to Susan Wagner and Port Richmond, two teams typically in the upper echelon after pushing both teams to overtimes. Against Wagner, Bayside tied the game on the final play of regulation before falling in double OT, while against Port Richmond, Bayside would not be put away until seven overtime periods had elapsed.
And to top it all off, this past weekend Bayside, despite playing a disastrous first quarter which saw them go down 22-0, still managed to make a game of it before losing to unbeaten Lehman.
But that has been the story all year. No matter what happens, Bayside seems to come up short. Where they could be 3-1 or 2-2, the team is 0-4 heading into the second half of the season virtually needing to sweep its four remaining games to have a realistic chance of making the playoffs.
I realize that Bayside has to win some of those games, that moral victories dont count in the win column, but still with the way the schedule and playoff rules currently stand, Bayside not making the playoffs would be an injustice.
As for Martin, here is a team that despite its youth and inexperience is still regarded by the PSAL as a 5 (the PSAL ranks teams 1, 3 or 5 based on expectation of strength with 5 being the strongest) and playing one of the toughest schedules in the city.
Martin has scored just one win in four games, over the Lincoln Railsplitters, and is certainly in jeopardy of missing the postseason if the team does not play better in the second. And to me, that reeks of unfairness.
Take Beach Channel, a team rated by the PSAL as a 3, which currently holds a perfect 4-0 record. If the Dolphins win a few more games against lesser opposition, they might just make the playoffs.
This situation occurred last year, with Evander, a team rated 1, squeaking into the playoffs by virtue of its soft schedule. This led to the PSAL making it impossible for another 1 team to make the playoffs by manipulating the scheduling so that no matter how good a record a 1 team might finish with, they will mathematically not be able to get into the playoffs.
To ensure this, the PSAL also eliminated two playoff spots, dropping the number of teams from 16 to 14. So, while Bayside finished No. 17 last year in the power points rankings at seasons end, even the elimination of the 1 rated teams from the structure like Evander still wouldnt have helped the Commodores out.
I went over this at the start of the season, but I think it is important to point out again that the teams rated 1 also have nothing at all to play for. There are no playoffs waiting for them at seasons end, no ultimate goal other than to try and win each game, something difficult enough for some of these teams.
Then there are the middle-of-the-road teams, teams like Campus Magnet, which, from year to year, can be either very good or struggle mightily. This year just happens to be a season when the Bulldogs, despite low expectation, have come storming out of the gate, winning all four of their games to start the season.
A few more victories and Magnet, like Beach Channel, could find itself in the playoffs. The true test will come in the second half of the season, when the Bulldogs face Bayside, Boys and Girls, August Martin and Beach Channel.
Any one of these teams could end up running the table and making the playoffs, but it is more likely that none of them will and all the clubs will fall shy of postseason glory.
Once again I would like to shout from the cheap seats that the PSAL needs to do two things: 1) Reinstitute the borough divisions, letting teams from Queens, Brooklyn, etc. play borough-only teams during the regular season so that the best can move forward to the playoffs and 2) Bring back the Metro or B Division so that the lesser caliber teams have something to shoot for.
No team would have to be locked into A or B infinitum, but could move up or down depending on the expected quality of the team for the upcoming season.
It may take some tweaking, it may take some time, but I think these two things could eliminate some of the problems currently facing the PSAL structure. At least then, if Bayside or Martin failed to make the playoffs, there truly would be no excuses.
Reach Sports Editor Anthony Bosco by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 130.
©2001 Community Newspaper Group
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