PAGLIA: Leave the drama alone

Brian Paglia, bpaglia@henryherald.com

Brian Paglia, bpaglia@henryherald.com

Give me theater.

Give me risk.

This is the formula virtually all major sports follow.

In college basketball, No. 1 seeds play No. 16 seeds. March Madness wouldn’t be so dramatic without the possibility — however statistically improbable — of the 15s and 16s taking down the elite.

In baseball, the wild card gets the same chance as divisional winners — and tends to do just as well in the playoffs.

So why, when high school football regions vote for a region playoff system where the top team in one subregion plays the fourth-seeded team in the other subregion, do we complain?

That’s where Stockbridge and Union Grove find themselves this Friday. The Tigers, the top seed in Region 4-AAAA, Div. A, play North Clayton, the fourth seed from Regoin 4-AAAA, Div. B. The Wolverines, the top seed in Region 4-AAAAA, Div. B, play McIntosh, the fourth seed from Region 4-AAAAA, Div. A.

Should Stockbridge lose, an 8-2 team ranked No. 5 in Class AAAA would miss the playoffs.

Should Union Grove lose, an 8-2 team that’s developed into a playoff-caliber group would be left out.

It sounds like a crime.

It seems like a travesty.

But the beauty of the system is that two more teams have hope than if the top seeds from each subregion played each other instead.

This is high school sports. Leave it to the college and professional ranks for prognosticators to covet “a regular season that counts,” where success and failure are the only measure of worth. Give high school athletics more hope.

Give Eagle’s Landing some hope when it plays Griffin. The Golden Eagles (1-8, 1-3 Region 4-AAAA, Div. A) have the offense to scare the Bears and any potential playoff team should they pull off a stunning upset.

Let North Clayton have a chance. The Eagles (2-7, 2-2 Region 4-AAAA, Div. B) played Stockbridge closer than any other team than M.L. King and have won two of their last three games.

You want to laugh at the system? Then laugh at the coaches and athletic directors who vote for it.

There’s more than meets the eye with these votes. Plenty of motives are at play.

With a subregion schedule, Union Grove was able to schedule non-region games against county rivals Locust Grove and Woodland. That meant larger crowds and more gate revenue with less transportation costs.

With a subregion schedule, Stockbridge had the chance to play M.L. King, a marquee metro high school football program that the Tigers have lost transfers to in recent years.

Play a pure region schedule and those opportunities are gone.

Pit the top seeds from each subregion and the drama is gone.

Give me theater.

Give me risk.

Give me something to really watch this Friday night.

Brian Paglia covers sports for the Clayton News Daily and Henry Daily Herald newspapers. He can be reached at bpaglia@henryherald.com. On Twitter? Follow him @BrianPaglia.