Flashes, Eagles down to the wire in pursuit of MAIS playoff berths

Published 6:57 am Monday, October 9, 2017

When the calendar turns from September to October, football coaches in the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools turn into mathematicians.

District champions in Class AAA receive automatic berths and the top five seeds in the 16-team playoff bracket. The other 11 slots are filled with wild card teams through a power point system that can make even the nerdiest brains ache with its calculations and probabilities.

Both Porter’s Chapel Academy and St. Aloysius, however, are at the point where they need to start crunching numbers to deduce their chances of reaching the playoffs.

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PCA (4-4) is currently 17th in the power point rankings, and St. Al (2-6) is 18th.

Teams receive points based off of their number of victories, with a bonus for playing higher-classification teams, and one point for each game their opponents have won. The total is then divided by the number of games played to come up with an average that is used to rank the teams.

PCA has a 13.75 average and St. Al 13.625. Park Place Christian is ranked 16th at 14.25, and plays at Porter’s Chapel in the regular season finale Oct. 20 in what might end up being an elimination game for the final spot.
PCA plays Class A Glenbrook in another must-win game this week.

“We’ve got to go get a win next week and reposition ourselves with a chance Week 10 to get a wildcard berth,” PCA coach Blake Purvis said after his team lost 49-0 to Central Hinds on Friday. “We are still in the hunt for the playoffs and so we’ve got to get healthy, go on the road next week and get a win and position ourselves Week 10 to fight for a spot in the playoffs.”

Although the fates of several dozen teams can be intertwined at this point — the bonus points for opponents’ victories lead to nearly every game statewide meaning something to someone, somewhere — the easiest path for teams on the bubble like PCA and St. Al is still to win.

PCA has been out of the District 3-AAA championship picture for a month, but can still have its first .500 or better season since 2011 and earn a wild card berth by winning its last two games.

St. Al, meanwhile, still has an outside chance at the District 3-AAA championship, or of securing a wild card, by doing the same.

St. Al (2-6, 1-1 District 3-AAA) is heading into its last two games at Hillcrest Christian (0-8, 0-4) and at Riverfield (7-1, 4-0) with a chance to finish in a three-way tie with Riverfield and Central Hinds (5-3, 3-1).

The Flashes, however, need some help because of a 30-7 loss to Central Hinds on Sept. 1. Central Hinds owns the point differential tiebreaker that maxes out at 18, meaning it would likely win a three-way tiebreaker.
Central Hinds also has one district game remaining, this week at Park Place, and a loss there would make the St. Al-Riverfield game a head-to-head showdown for the title.

Riverfield, meanwhile, beat Central Hinds 12-3 when they played in September, so it can win the district title simply by beating St. Al.

However it all shakes out, St. Al will benefit in the wild card standings from the victories accumulated by Riverfield and Central Hinds despite potentially losing to both.

“We’re still going to be at the edge. We might end up having to go to Indianola (Academy) or somewhere, but we’ve still got a good shot at it,” St. Al coach Michael Fields said.

Fields added that he was hoping just to make the playoffs, not just to have an opportunity there but to start working toward next season. The Flashes have struggled with depth and inexperience all year, and some extra on-field work can only help them get better.

“That’d be a positive,” Fields said. “We came off last year 3-8. We lost a bunch of seniors and have a young team, really a new group we’re dealing with and hardly no linemen. So if we do that, that’d be great. That’s another week of practice for us for next year.”

Vicksburg Post reporter Brandon O’Connor contributed to this report.

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured reporters in the paper's 140-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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