And it’s now wide open in the 3A football race | VailDaily.com
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And it’s now wide open in the 3A football race

Chris Freud
KRISTIN ANDERSON |

And, now, we have a developing situation.

Just when you think you’ve got a handle on the 3A playoff race, you actually have no idea.

In this week’s installment of “As the Wild-Card Points Turn,” Eagle Valley fell from 11th to 14th with a 26-14 loss to Palisade, while Battle Mountain jumped from 24th to 19th with a 39-21 win over Coal Ridge.

I do not get it. Theoretically, a relatively tight loss to a very good team like Palisade (No. 9 in the points, 7-2 overall) wouldn’t seem so harmful. Meanwhile, Battle Mountain won, but it was against a 2A squad that’s 4-5.

We’ll try to untangle it:

Eagle Valley

The good part of the CHSAA points system is that it prevents teams from playing cupcakes in nonconference games. In college-football terms, if you were Alabama and you played SMU, Georgia State and Kent State in your imaginary 10-game “high-school” schedule, then you would rightly get dinged under CHSAA’s system.

Eagle Valley’s played a solid, but not great, nonconference slate with Vista Peak (4-5), Battle Mountain (6-2) and Basalt (3-6). I’m sure that Eagle Valley Nation was hoping that Vista Peak would have had a better year after Week 1, but that’s been countered by Battle Mountain’s season. (I’ll say it. I didn’t think that the Huskies would finish with a minimum of six wins, and likely no one in Gypsum thought so as well.) And, yes, Battle Mountain is counted as a 3A win for these purposes.

Basalt, a 2A school, is counted as a 3A win.

“On each schedule, the first scheduled (chronologically) non-classification opponent shall count toward wildcard points for the next highest classification,” says ye olde CHSAA bulletin.

So the Devils went 3-0 against “3A” schools with a combined record of 13-13 so far. (That can go to 15-13 in an ideal Eagle Valley world, if the Huskies beat Pueblo County and Vista Peak tops Elizabeth.)

Strength of schedule in nonconference play is why Glenwood (5-4) is hanging on to the No. 16 spot. The Demons played Erie, Conifer and 2A Brush, which have a 20-7 record. (And, again, Brush is 2A, but counted as a 3A just like Basalt is for the Devils. Brush also went 9-0, so it’s a darn-good 2A school, regardless.)

What the CHSAA system does not do is measure the strength of a conference, which is bad news for Eagle Valley. I’m not telling you anything you don’t know, but the 3A Slope is really good. The points after Week 9 bear that out — Rifle No. 7, Palisade No. 9, Delta No. 13, Devils No. 14 and Glenwood No. 16.

(And, yeah, I’m pretty sure Eagle Valley beat Delta, so that stumps me. Delta did lose to 4A Montrose, 28-21, and the Indians are No. 3 in the 4A points, but, head-to-head, people.)

The computer does not register that the 3A Slope is the best conference in the state at this classification, a flaw as far as I’m concerned. It doesn’t take into account that the Devils haven’t beaten Palisade since 2005. It doesn’t matter to the computer that Palisade has smacked Eagle Valley by a count of 180-71 the past four years.

The computer doesn’t make a distinction between a 54-26 loss last year to the Bulldogs and a very competitive 26-14 defeat this year. (As far as I’m concerned, losing to Palisade by just 12 points tells me a lot more about a football team than beating the heck out of Summit County, but the computer doesn’t care.)

No. 14 in the points seems precarious, but seven wins has always been the magic number. Look at the points — 16 teams, including Battle Mountain, have six or more wins, going into Week 10. Only 16 can get to seven wins this week. (By the way, keep an eye on Delta at Palisade. Go Bulldogs because Delta would fall to 6-4 and presumably drop behind Eagle Valley.)

Even though Grand Junction Central is 2-7, a win over a two-win 3A team is worth 79 points, while a loss to an eight-win team, which Palisade would be with a win over Delta, is 60 points. Also, Eagle Valley gains 10 more points if Palisade wins because its loss last week will now be to an eight-win team. (See how confusing this stuff is?)

Beat Central and my bet is that the Devils are dancing in November.

Battle Mountain

As Gomer Pyle would say, “Surprise, surprise, surprise.”

As we all know, the Huskies must win the 2A Slope outright (done) and finish in the top 16 in the 3A points (getting closer) to make the 3A playoffs.

Battle Mountain beat Basalt, which finished 3-6, two weeks ago and did not move a spot in the wild-card standings. Still 24th. What’s more, Pueblo County, which did not play that week, hopped over the Huskies in the points.

Then the Huskies beat Coal Ridge (4-5) and Battle Mountain jumped to 19th.

This is probably the first time we’ve quoted Tennyson with regard to high school football, but “Theirs not to reason why, theirs but to do and die.”

While no “Charge of the Light Brigade” is necessary, beating Pueblo County (No. 25 in the points) doubtless is a must. Pueblo County is not to be confused with Pueblo Central (No. 17).

But let’s look ahead of Battle Mountain in the points. Glenwood Springs (No. 16) is at Steamboat Springs, and that’s probably a win for the Demons. Pueblo Central (4-5) plays 3-6 The Classical Academy. No. 18 Lewis-Palmer (4-5) plays 3-6 Harrison. There could be some movement above Battle Mountain.

Also, what if Delta loses to Palisade and drops to 6-4, and the Huskies win and are 7-2? Can the Huskies jump the Panthers? I’d say that Delta’s a better team than Battle Mountain regardless of record, but what does the computer say?

Logically, I think it’s hard for the Huskies to make the points, even with a win over Pueblo Central. CHSAA would be letting in a team that went 1-2 against 3A schools this year and had six wins against 2A schools — 1A Middle Park counts as a 2A.

But, strange things have been happening all over the state of Colorado in football.

Exhibit A is that we’re talking Battle Mountain and playoffs in the same sentence during Week 10.

Stay tuned.

Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, cfreud@vaildaily.com and @cfreud.


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