Keep searching

Published 4:16 pm Thursday, November 9, 2017

I’d like to take a few moments to explain and offer opinion on some strange things going on right now with regard to the high school football playoffs.

Cumberland County High School’s varsity football team will be participating in postseason play this week despite finishing the regular season with an 0-10 record. Meanwhile, Buckingham County High School, which surged to a 5-5 finish after starting the year 1-5, has been eliminated for a couple of weeks. Prince Edward County High School ended up 4-6, but if it had won last week, it would have been in the playoffs.

How does one explain all of this?

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It is the Virginia High School League’s (VHSL) latest realignment that has created this situation. Every two years, the VHSL has been tweaking aspects of the postseason process and more, trying to find an ideal fit for all parties involved.

Among the biggest changes beginning this year was that each classification is once again broken up into four regions after having been divided into two since 2013.

A school’s classification is determined by the number of students attending that school, and there are six classes. Class 6 features the largest schools in the state; Class 1 features the smallest.

Buckingham and Prince Edward are part of Class 2; Cumberland is part of Class 1. All three schools are part of separate regions this year.

Cumberland is in Region B, the smallest region of Class 1, featuring only 10 schools. Furthermore, only six of those 10 schools play schedules that meet VHSL standards for being playoff-eligible.

Most regions in all classifications have eight playoff teams, so Cumberland and the other five eligible Region 1B teams were actually in the playoffs before they played a down of football this year.

Meanwhile, Buckingham and Prince Edward play in more crowded regions with teams that play district schedules featuring opponents from higher classifications. Power points, which help dictate postseason seeding, are generously awarded to teams — win or lose — for playing higher-classified opponents. This is why the Eagles are out but No. 8 Brunswick (3-7) and No. 7 Bruton (2-8) are in, and it helps explain why the Knights were beat out by No. 8 Dan River (5-5) and No. 7 Martinsville (5-5).

In the VHSL’s quest for the ideal fit, I think it needs to keep searching.

TITUS MOHLER is sports editor of The Farmville Herald and Farmville Newsmedia LLC. His email address is