There have been 5,025 points scored through 84 games of the Oregon School Activities Association high school football playoffs.
That’s an average of 59.8214 per game.
There’s nothing wrong with scoring. It’s exciting for everyone involved, unless you’re the team being scored on. That above per game average across all classifications breaks down to 43.0119-16.8095, or a 26.2024 margin of victory.
When I sat down with Roseburg High coach Dave Heuberger to discuss the recent football season he mentioned the average scoring differential in the playoffs. That was after the first round, where Class 6A has twice as many representatives than any other division.
For the last several seasons there has been an ongoing cry that there are too many teams in the 6A playoffs, that the first-round games aren’t competitive enough. I know it’s an issue that comes up every year for the OSAA and much of the commentary lands on Brad Garrett’s desk.
With every round of reclassification, the OSAA also takes a look at how many teams qualify for the playoffs; it gathers input from the member schools and continues to come back with the same numbers for the brackets: 32 for 6A, 16 for each of the remaining five classifications.
After listening to Heuberger, I checked the numbers, classification by classification for both the first and second rounds — a larger sample size that logic suggests would show declining margin of victory in the later rounds.
Logic held true for the 6A, 5A and 4A brackets, with average margins dropping by a TD, two TDs and three TDs in those classes, respectively.
Reality routed Logic in the 3A, 2A and 1A brackets, even as four lower seeds made it into the semifinals — No. 5 Vale in Class 3A and No. 5 Santiam, No. 10 Kennedy and No. 11 Lost River in Class 2A — as the average margin of victory went up compared to the first round.
Class 1A, which has not seen a single upset on its bracket thus far, had the widest margin of victory in the first round, at 31.875. Its four quarterfinal games had an average margin of 37.5.
Class 5A, which had an average margin of 23 in the first round, saw its margin drop to 11.25 in the quarters. Class 4A’s margin dipped by more than 19 points in the quarterfinals, from 25.625 to 6.0.
In 6A, the margin fell from 29.825 in the first round to 21.625 in the second, with the top eight seeds all advancing to Friday’s quarterfinals.
So, is there some competitive imbalance? Of course there is. But it’s not the coaches asking for a change in format, it’s a smattering of sports journalists and fans.
Of bigger concern should be the socio-economic differences between the biggest schools in the state.
Sheldon, the Southwest Conference champion, is the only school not from one of Portland’s wealthiest suburbs still in the 6A bracket, and Sheldon is historically one of the wealthiest high schools in Eugene.
The OSAA has addressed economic differences between school districts and private schools — Central Catholic and Jesuit remain in the 6A bracket — with an enrollment modifier that takes into account a percentage of students on free and reduced lunch programs.
That’s great and all, but it has a limited benefit for a rural big school such as Roseburg, where family-wage jobs that allow athletes to play more than worry about paying participation fees are fading away.
From a competitive standpoint, Roseburg drew closer to every team in the Southwest Conference in 2018 and it will likely do so again in 2019. Just be aware that once it’s in the playoffs, the challenge is just beginning.