Class A: A number of teams hurt by Power Ranking System

By S. Thomas Coleman
For the AJC

Early on in the new process for selecting teams for the post season in Class A football, you could tell that things weren’t going to end well for a handful of teams.

That day appears to have come on Tuesday when the final Power Rankings for the 36 public and 29 private schools competing in football in Georgia’s smallest classification were released. The Power Rankings delivered a tough pill for several teams to swallow:

– Whitefield Academy, which held the 16th and final playoff spot on the private school side going into last week’s final regular season game, finished 17th after losing to Trion (17-7) last Friday. The Wolfpack finished .01 of a point behind Mt. Pisgah, a team they thrashed (28-6) back on Oct. 19.

Telfair County finished third in Region 2, ahead of Turner County and Charlton County, both of which it beat during the regular season. Yet the Trojans public school Power Ranking of No. 21 will keep them at home in McRae and out of the playoffs, while Charlton (No. 10) and Turner (No. 12) are in.

– Johnson County finished second in Region 3-Division B with a 7-3 record, but fell .04 of a point short of the No. 16 slot on the public school side, held by Greenville and Hancock County, both of which have records of 5-5. In fact, a total of five teams with 5-5 records – conceivably, two games behind Johnson – will play in the public school playoffs while the Trojans watch from Wrightsville.

- Mt. Zion-Carroll- won Region 6-Division A and defeated Trion (14-13), Darlington (20-13) and Gordon Lee (18-13) in the process. Yet the Eagles are out of the playoffs with a public school Power Ranking of No. 24, while all three aforementioned teams they defeated are in.

“It’s very disappointing for our kids, especially for our seniors, who worked really hard to get this program turned around,” said Keith Holloway, in his first season as head coach at Mt. Zion, which went 0-10 last season. “We had a great year with a lot of positives.”

Holloway, who supported splitting public and private schools, was philosophical about his team getting squeezed out.

“We had our chance to beat Mt. Paran and didn’t get it done,” he said of his team’s loss in last Friday’s region cross over game. That loss along with the fact that two of Mt. Zion’s opponents – North Cobb Christian and Cross Keys – did not play region schedules, led to the Eagles’ demise.

Like Holloway, Johnson County head coach Don Norton, another supporter of the public-private split, did not blame the system either. His Trojans lost their Region 3 cross over game last week, 22-18, to Jenkins County.

“We had our chances and didn’t get it done,” Norton said. “We had third-and-goal from the [one]-half yard line and fourth-and-inches with a minute left in the game and couldn’t get in,” said Norton, whose team was without four starters, three of whom played both ways, due to a flu epidemic in school. “That’s not an excuse, we played hard but we didn’t take care of our business.”

Many coaches on both sides, public and private, would like to see the system tweaked for next season. Seminole County head coach Alan Ingram, for one, would like to see 32 of the 36 football-playing Class A public schools advance to the playoffs. Then the teams would be divided into four brackets, based on geography so that teams would not have to travel far for games, and seeded. Ingram said perhaps 24 of the 29 football-playing private schools would advance, with the top eight teams receiving a first-round bye.

“This way you get more schools and more communities able to participate and create more revenue,” said Ingram, whose Indians were the Region 1 champs. “These are tough economic times and a lot of these towns could use that extra revenue.

Ingram hopes the GHSA considers tweaking the system before next season. But for a number of players, that would be one year too late.

“It’s just not fair to the kids,” said DeLisa Gillis, a front office worker at Telfair County, whose son, Connor, is a senior kicker for the Trojans, while husband Don is a community assistant coach. Last week’s loss to Wilcox County (21-0) was most likely the final time Conner will play organized football.

“As the parent of a senior, you’re just really, really disappointed for your kids,” Gillis said. “Something has to change.”

18 comments Add your comment


November 14th, 2012
9:08 am

What infuriates me about the system is that the GHSA used a “let’s make it up as we go along” approach to developing how the power ranking system would work. Many teams had already made out their schedules before there was any talk of rewarding teams for playing out of class or punishing teams for playing teams with a non-region schedule.


November 14th, 2012
9:16 am

My heart breaks for the kids that get left out of the playoffs all because adults were crybabies and demanded something be done immediately instead of waiting for cooler heads to actually put together a logical system.


November 14th, 2012
11:24 am

Hope they dont move to the suggested 32 / 24 playoff basically everybody gets in, but you will still have issues with the few that dont get in, adjustment to the playing up bonuses would help.


November 14th, 2012
1:00 pm

no let it stay like it is. thats what you public schools wanted and asked for.instead of manning up and playing the private schools like in the past and stop worrying about recruiting and get your team ready for whoever.there”s plenty of schools sitting that deserve to be in the the future, be careful what you ask for.

South GA Panther

November 14th, 2012
1:24 pm

Most basketball schedules were made by the middle of last March, so you can look for more of the same problems in basketball too. This year’s baseball schedules may or may not completed by now(most of the teams’ schedules are complete), so schools still have a chance to adjust their non-region schedules to fit this format. With is power ranking, non-region opponents can carry as much or more weight than region opponents. It doesn’t seem right, but for this year and next year, we’ll just have to live with it.


November 14th, 2012
1:51 pm

The system has to be changed. I feel sorry for all those kids the don’t get a chance to play in a playoff game. My Telfair County Trojans had a great season. The turn around that those young men and coaches made is amazing. How do finish third in region 2-A which is probably one of the toughest regions in the state and not make the playoffs. When two teams you beat get into the playoffs is just not right. It happened to us this year. I wonder what would be said if it happened to Lincoln County?


November 14th, 2012
3:23 pm

Seminole’s coach comment re: 32/36 is disgraceful. Why not just hand every team a participation trophy & be done with it?


November 14th, 2012
3:31 pm

I don’t want to hear one word of complaining from any Public School Coach. Next thing you know the public schools will want preferential treatment on their kids getting into college so they won’t have to compete with the private school kids.


November 14th, 2012
4:14 pm

Glad to see Coach Norton at Johnson County tell it like it is. Hate to see the Trojans not get in but at least you don’t hear any excuses, whining, or complaining.

JT Walker

November 14th, 2012
5:02 pm

@STC- Any chance you could start new post/thread with some play off predictions? The private side has some interesting match ups with half the bracket having already met this season and the other half having few or no common opponents. I’m anxious to get everyone’s take but would hope we could limit it to play off talk and stay away from PR, public/private split, recruiting, etc. How ’bout it!?

Mt. Zion Fan

November 14th, 2012
7:18 pm

@James, You Jerk, Not all public schools cried. We played and beat the Private. Only cry babies were the south teams that got in. We won our sub region, three teams below us got in. We aint crying we are cussing. You and Larry Campbell and GHSA can Kiss our $$%%^


November 14th, 2012
10:46 pm

you tell em Mt. Zion Fan!

football fan

November 15th, 2012
7:55 am

@mt zion fan I argee that your team should be in the post season. You played and beat some very good team. However, you did not beat all the private schools you played as implied in your blog

Swamp Lizard

November 15th, 2012
8:09 am

@ STC ….. when is the next artice? ….. you working up something real good for us?

Mt. Zion Fan

November 15th, 2012
9:21 am

@football fan Did not mean to imply we beat all the Privates, Never have, never will.


November 15th, 2012
10:29 am

@Mt Zion Fan…I thought your coach handled the situation very well. The system is what it is, but it was unfortunate that your scheduling didn’t provide the chance for you to compete in the playoffs. But, again, it’s the same system everyone else played under, and it was one that the public schools voted into place. As someone whose son attends private school, we felt kind of slighted by the public schools when we joined the GHSA under the guise that we would compete with the public schools in the playoffs. We did so in order to increase our competition and lessen the drive times during the season AND the playoffs. What we ended up with was a few games with public schools that really didn’t even matter that much in our power rankings. We still travel just as far to the public schools as we did for the private schools we used to play, exclusively. The GHSA got what THEY wanted and we got completely screwed. So, if there are any schools that deserve to be upset with the system, it shouldn’t be the public schools who all voted for it! By the way, congrats to your coach and players for turning around the program from last year.


November 15th, 2012
10:36 am

The biggest problem with the seperation of public/private going into next season is scheduling. It all boils down to who can schedule beatable higher classification teams. Lincoln, ECI, Wilcox, Wilkinson can beat alot of teams in all higher clasifications. However it boils down to who they can schedule and how good they are. But can we say the same about lesser teams in class A, no we can’t. So these teams will be forced to schedule higher classification teams to get more points. But they will not be able to beat them so it will be worthless to schedule higher classificatin teams. They are stuck in limbo, if you can’t beat middle of the pack class A teams how can you beat higher classification teams. So these same teams will not make the playoffs next year either. And just because you get a few points for playing a AAA school does not mean they are going to win alot of games to help you with points. So the GHSA should limit the number of higher clasification teams a school can schedule , because some regions have less teams than others. What if SAV Christian played five AAAAA schools out of savannah area I know they can find five they can beat so obviously they would have the #1 power ranking on the private side.

#1 Trojan Fan

November 15th, 2012
10:47 pm

This is seriously disappointing. The kids that have worked so hard and have the talent and record to go to the playoffs are not. The other teams that havent proven them selves are going to the playoffs. These kids futures depended on this football season and their dreams have been snatched away from them. This is the most unfair way of ranking teams. If the idea is to play public and private seperate then why do they get power rankings for playing each other in the first place. This is stupid, the power ranking are made to punish the kids for hardwork and reward teams that play high classification schools whether they win or loose. The GHSA has done a wonderful job coming up with a scoring system the punishes good teams and rewards bad teams. I am disappointed the media have not scrutinized the GHSA more and pressured them into changing the rules and giving the kids the opportunity to play fairly.