The final Class A power rankings put out by the Georgia High School Association and Max Preps has the Eagles (6-4) in the 24th spot, eight places out of the top 16 needed to make the public school bracket this season.
“There’s definitely some flaws with [the system]. We don’t think — and I’m sure most people agree — it’s not right to be able to win your sub-region and watch three teams that you beat go into the playoffs, but that’s what it looks like is going to happen. We know when Georgia High School started this, it was the best possible option. We know a lot of people put their two cents in, but there are a lot of flaws,” MZ coach Keith Holloway said on Tuesday after the final rankings were released.
The season-ending loss against Mt. Paran on Friday night hurt, but the more damaging factor in the Eagles missing the playoffs after their most successful year since 2001 comes down to GHSA By-Law 2.16b that states, ‘Games played against opponents playing a non-region schedule will NOT be counted in determining a team’s power ranking.’
That rule was established after the schedules had been set. Mt. Zion earned a 40-7 win against North Cobb Christian and defeated Class AAA Cross Keys, 56-12. Neither of those wins count in the power rankings, which show MZ at 4-4 rather than its actual 6-4 overall record.
That will be the first question Holloway poses for the GHSA when they appeal their final ranking.
“We’re going to appeal [Wednesday] morning. You have until 12 o’clock to appeal to the Georgia High School Association. What we’re appealing is them not counting our non-region games. That was something the Georgia High School Executive Committee voted on in September. We don’t know if we’ll be able to get them to reverse anything or not. And even if they did, it would give up enough points to get into the top 16? We’re still going to send it in and express our concerns about the system,” Holloway said.
There is still the chance that even with those games counting, the Eagles would miss out on the top 16 spots and not make the playoffs under the system. Meanwhile, three Region 6A-A opponents MZ defeated during the regular season would be going — Gordon Lee and Trion in the public bracket and Darlington on the private side.
“We’re hoping that maybe, at least, next year they’ll think about letting the region games count more than other games. What’s going to happen if we keep this system the next go-around, when schools start making their schedules you’re obviously better off playing a large school to get more points. That’s not always good for the kids for an A school to play a AAA or a AAAA,” Holloway said.
With extra points given, win or lose, for playing schools from higher classifications, a school could lose all its non-region games, but still gain crucial points by playing schools from AA to AAAAAA.
“Whether we win our appeal or not, hopefully they’ll look at the system and make some tweaks to it,” Holloway said. “There’s no point playing a region schedule if those games aren’t going to count more. That’s my view, at least. I’m hoping that maybe later on when the executive committee meets, they can discuss that. It’s going to come into play for the other sports, too. Basketball and baseball coming up. If it stays the way it is, it’s going to make coaches have to do different scheduling than what they would normally do.”
Even without a playoff appearance, the 2012 Eagles have made their mark on the school, community and football program.
“We couldn’t be more proud. These kids came out here and lifted weights like all schools do, but this group seemed to have a little more urgency about them. They worked hard all summer. I thought we improved and got better as the season went on. We’re disappointed we didn’t beat Mt. Paran, but I told the kids the other night after the game, after the dust settles and they look back on it, they’re going to realize what an impact they had on this school and this community,” Holloway said.
“Won three big ball games that they probably shouldn’t have and came close in a couple of others. Couldn’t be more proud of them. I’m happy for the coaches, too, because they put the time and effort into it. It’s been a real rewarding year. I wish we could finish it off with a trip to the playoffs, but if we don’t then we know we’re still sub-region champs and had a winning record. These kids have a lot to be proud of.”