Georgia team finishes in second, beats third-place team, loses playoff spot to third-place team

Cameron Smith
Prep Rally

Here's a riddle: When does a team finish in second place in its division, beat the third-place team and still miss out on the playoffs to that third-place team? The answer can be found in Georgia, though no one seems to be precisely sure how it happened.

Whitefield Academy finished second in its league but missed out on the playoffs to a third-place team — BeRecruited
Whitefield Academy finished second in its league but missed out on the playoffs to a third-place team — BeRecruited

As reported by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Mableton (Ga.) Whitefield Academy missed out on the 2012 Class A state football playoffs despite finishing in second place in Division B of Region 6-A. That in itself isn't necessarily a shock, as the state is using a new power-point weighted playoff-ranking system in 2012. What is surprising is that the third-place finisher in Region 6-A Division B, Johns Creek (Ga.) Mount Pisgah Christian School, did make the playoffs despite finishing with one league victory less than Whitefield and losing to Whitefield.

How a team could beat a foe and win more games than that foe while playing essentially the same teams, then finish behind that foe on power points is completely befuddling.

Interestingly, the Journal-Constitution's Chip Saye reported that Whitefield would have missed out on the playoffs in 2011 as well based on prior formats. The difference is that Mount Pisgah would have stayed home under those standards as well.

Apparently the power point swing came in the final week, with Whitefield falling in a "play-in" game against Trion (Ga.) High, a foe which will be in the playoffs, by a score of 16-7 while Mount Pisgah also fell to Darlington (Ga.) High, 31-14. But Darlington's strength of schedule was apparently stronger than Trion's, helping push Mount Pisgah statistically ahead of Whitefield by less than 0.01 point.

Still, when looking at the two teams' schedules, putting Mt. Pisgah in ahead of Whitefield Academy just doesn't seem to make sense. Whitefield finished 4-1 in the league while Mt. Pisgah finished 3-2. Whitefield knocked off Mt. Pisgah in a one-sided, 28-6 contest.

Yes, both teams finished with a 6-4 overall record, but even the relative scores of the squads' play-in games would seem to point to a postseason spot for Whitefield rather than Mt. Pisgah.

Instead, the computers have pushed Mt. Pisgah into the playoffs, much to the ire of Whitefield supporters, who find themselves without a postseason to get excited about and without an actual person to be mad at for that slight.

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