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Trying to paint the Section VI playoff picture

After reviewing arduous work of Hall of Fame Prep Talk blogger Milt Latimer and conferring with Section VI chairman Ken Stoldt, here's what's up with the Section VI playoff races entering the final week of the regular season.

We'll start out with some basics, which will make us all feel good because of the mindbenders you'll be reading soon.

Eight teams make the playoffs in each of the five classes (Class AA, A, B, C, D).

Classes AA, A, C and D each have two divisions. The top four teams in each division will make the playoffs. Class B has three divisions and we'll get into that later.

Helpful companions for this fun/crazy/headache-inducing process:

* our standings page, which we have already updated with the weekend's results as well as the teams which have clinched playoff spots.

* our season schedule page, which has the full Week Seven schedule.

* our team-by-team week-by-week schedule/results pages which lets you know exactly how the head-to-head matchups went (this link goes to the AA North page -- fittingly so, but more on that later -- but there are links to all leagues down the left side of the page).

* the Section VI football handbook, which lists the tiebreaker procedures. The first tiebreaker is head-to-head competition, including in three- our four-way ties (only if one team has beaten all of the rest). The second tiebreaker is "point differential," which you'll hear mentioned quite a bit. A team's total point differential is based on league games only; teams recieve a maximum of plus-20 points or minus-20 points in big wins/big losses.

OK. Deep breath. Clear mind. Calm soul. Full Diet Coke. Here we go:


* We're going to start with the AA SOUTH: Clarence (5-0) has clinched the division title while Orchard Park (4-1), Frontier (3-2) and Jamestown (3-2) have all clinched playoff spots. That is the likely seedings order as well; the only way it changes is if Jamestown knocks off visiting OP and Frontier loses to Bennett.

Wow, this is easy!

As a fellow mascot fan likes to say, "not so fast my friends."

* In AA NORTH, things are as wacky as that division has been all season.

Kenmore West (4-1) and Lockport (3-2) have clinched playoff spots. Riverside (3-2) and Williamsville North (3-2) win and they're in. North Tonawanda (finished at 3-3) and Niagara Falls (2-3 heading into a likely win against 0-5 Hutch-Tech Friday) need some help.

The Riverside at Kenmore West game at 2 p.m. Saturday is for the division title. If Kenmore West wins it is 5-1; if Riverside wins, it is 4-2 with wins over any team it will/could be tied with (KW, Lockport and Will North). If Ken West loses, it's 4-2 mark gives it second place (and a home playoff game) for the same reason -- it owns wins over Lockport and Will North, one of which will be 4-2.

Will North is at Lockport on Saturday afternoon. Will North can make the playoffs even if it loses since it has beaten NT and Niagara Falls ... but if Ken West beats Riverside, then we're looking at a four-way tie that would come down to point differential.

The NT picture: If Riverside beats Ken West, NT is out. However, if Ken West beats Riverside, that opens some doors for NT (since it has beaten Riverside and Falls) and point differential comes into play. The bigger the potential loss for Riverside, the better for NT. Falls needs even more help.

From Milt: "Clarence wins division and gets homefield throughout playoffs -- figuring out who to scout is a nightmare. ... .Lockport is in in all scenarios but can’t win the Division. If Riverside wins, Lions won’t host a playoff game. ... Riverside is virtually in the playoffs, depending on if they lose by a lot to Ken West. Any kind of a close game gets them in playoffs based on tie breaks. ... Williamsville North has good chance to make playoffs, even with a loss. ... If Ken West and Hutch-Tech win, NT is in. ... NT will be hoping Riverside loses by a big margin. ... Niagara Falls must win and hope for big losses by Lockport and Riverside to gain point differentials.


Very similar pictures in both divisions here.

* In A NORTH, Sweet Home (5-0) has clinched the title, Williamsville East (4-1) has clinched second and McKinley (finished at 4-2) has clinched third.

Grand Island (2-3) wins and it's in -- GI is at Kenmore East (1-4). If GI loses, Starpoint (2-3) could possibly get the spot with a win at Will East. 

* In A SOUTH, Williamsville South (5-0) has clinched the title, Amherst (4-1) has clinched second and Iroquois (3-2) has clinched third.

Lake Shore (2-3) wins and it's in -- the Eagles host Amherst. If Lake Shore loses, Hamburg (1-4 at Iroquois) loses and West Seneca East (1-4 at Will South) loses, Lafayette (finished at 2-4) is in the fourth spot because beat Lake Shore head-to-head. Hamburg and WSE need to win by big point differentials and get some help.

From Milt: If Hamburg wins, Lafayette is out as it loses on a three-way tiebreak. ... Hamburg must win at Iroquois and 1) make up 16 points on Lake Shore and 2) have Lake Shore lose. ... If Lake Shore loses, they’ll need Hamburg to be part of a three-way playoff, as Lafayette lost to Hamburg. ... Even if Hamburg wins, it will depend on margin of win for Lake Shore and Hamburg. Lake Shore has 6 point advantage right now. ... West Seneca East must beat Williamsville South, hope Hamburg beats Iroquois, hope Lake Shore loses, and they need to make up 14 points on Hamburg (so Hamburg must have narrow win).


As you may have read at the Section VI site, the the eight Class B teams will be selected this way: The three division winners, plus the three second-place teams, plus the two best third-place teams. For the playoff bracket, the top three teams will be seeded 1-2-3, the second place teams 4-5-6 and the last two spots 7 & 8.

The only thing that matters in determining the playoff spots are each team's league record. Tiebreakers will determine the order of each division; after each division is set, a separate tiebreaker will be used to determine the third-place qualifiers.

The simplest part is that all three division titles have one spot clinched: Alden and Depew have clinched their divisions while Lackawanna has clinched a spot.

We'll go one division at a time, simplest to most complicated.

* In B SOUTH, Lackawanna has clinched a spot at 5-0 and wins the division title with a win. Eden (4-1) and Pioneer (4-1) are in good shape. Eden plays at Lackawanna while Pioneer finishes at East Aurora; both on Friday night.

If Pioneer wins, it's in. If Eden wins, it's in.

In that scenario, B South would have three teams at 5-1 because no other division has any team capable of finishing 5-1 in third place; that also would mean that Central and North would by vying for the one remaining third-place spot. 

If both Pioneer and Eden lose, Pioneer is in because it would take second place in the division at 4-2 by virtue of its head-to-head win over Eden; Eden would be in a strong position at 4-2, but there are teams in the North and Central capable of going 4-2 and then we're talking tiebreakers.

From Milt: Lackawanna needs to make up some point differential on Depew to get at least the No. 2 seed and be home throughout the playoffs. If Lackawanna loses, it could be third in the division. It would lose three-way point differential to Pioneer and head-to-head with Eden. At 5-1 in League, they’d be 7th seed. ... If Lackawanna loses, Pioneer (with a win) gets first in a three-way playoff. If Pioneer loses to EA, they would still have a good point differential over B North teams. ... Eden has a good Point differential right now. But, they could miss playoffs if they lose to Lackawanna, Cheektowaga beats Burgard, Medina beats Albion and Lew-Port wins. Lew-Port needs to make up 19 points, which could be easy in a win and lose scenario.

* In B NORTH, Alden (5-0) has clinched the top spot. One of the biggest games of the weekend will have Albion (3-2) playing at rival Medina (4-1) Friday night. If Medina wins, the Mustangs are in as the second-place team. Lew-Port (3-2) plays at Newfane on Saturday, so a Medina win and a Lew-Port win puts Lew-Port into the third-place mix. 

An Albion win and a Lew-Port win would mean there would be three teams at 4-2 vying for one spot (second place) and possibly two (third place).

From Milt: If Medina loses to Albion, they could be out of playoffs at 5-2 overall. If there is a three-way tie break, either Albion or Lew-Port takes No. 2 and it looks to favor Lew-Port right now. Medina would then lose third place to Albion in head-to-head. If Medina loses to Albion, they would need Albion to win point differential and take second, as they have head-to-head over Lew-Port for third. ... Albion needs to beat Medina, and then hope. Lew-Port would either have to lose or only beat Newfane by less than 16 points. If Albion loses the three-way tie break, they get third at 4-2 (head to head over Medina). But, 4-2 might not get them into playoffs as wildcard. If Burgard is third, tie break procedures likely would favor Burgard. ... If Lew-Port beats Newfane by more than 16, it is assured of at least third, but there they'd need to win point differential. L-P needs to take No. 2 seed: root for Albion and take care of Newfane.

* In B CENTRAL, Depew (finished at 6-0) has clinched first place. Burgard (4-1) plays Cheektowaga (3-2) at Riverside at 2 p.m. -- the winner earns second place. If Cheektowaga wins, Burgard enters the mix of third-place teams.

If Cheektowaga loses, it would need both Albion and Lew-Port to lose and join the Warriors at 3-3 in the third-place club, then win the third-place tiebreaker.

A Cheektowaga loss would ensure that the third-place team from B South would make the playoffs (even if both Eden and Pioneer both lost, Pioneer takes second place in B South on head-to-head, and Eden's 4-2 mark would be the top record from among the third-place teams).

From Milt: East gets last place, but other B Central teams games against them figure into their records (kinda strange). ... Depew likely needs either Alden to lose or Lackawanna to win (or lose) by a small margin to get overall No. 1 or 2 seed. ... Burgard currently has a huge point differential advantage over other potential third-place teams, so they’ll be in the playoffs.


Finally, an easy one. It's all set as both divisions concluded league play last week.

* C NORTH: Grover Cleveland (4-0), Wilson (3-1), Cleveland Hill (2-2), Gowanda (1-3).

* C SOUTH: Southwestern (5-0), Fredonia (4-1), Salamanca (3-2), Allegany-Limestone (1-4).

There are some crossover games between the divisions this week (including Wilson at Southwestern) which could possibly repeat themselves in a few weeks.


We know half of the teams -- we'll know the other half after Friday night's action as all teams conclude their seasons under the Friday Night Lights.

* In D EAST, there's a great showdown Friday night as Portville (6-0) hosts Randolph (6-0); both teams have clinched playoff spots with the winner earning the division title. The remaining two spots will depend on the outcome of Cattaraugus/Little Valley (3-3) at Frewsburg (4-2) and Pine Valley (3-3) hosting Forestville (1-5).

* In D WEST, Silver Creek (6-0) has clinched the top spot and Maple Grove (5-1) has clinched second with Sherman/Ripley (3-3) at Chautaqua Lake (4-2) and Westfield (4-2) at Maple Grove deciding the last two spots.

From Milt: Frewsburg -- beat Cattaraugus/Little Valley and get No. 3 seed, lose and enter three-way tie break with Pine Valley and Catt/LV. ... Pine Valley wins and they’re in playoffs (see Frewsburg). ... Catt/LV will have to win, hope Pine Valley wins by 20 and hope procedure goes their way. They need Pine Valley to win tie break for third and then get head-to-head with Frewsburg for No. 4. ... Sherman could sneak into playoffs at No. 3 or 4 seed if a few things happen. They’ll need to beat Chautauqua Lake, Westfield would either have to lose or beat Maple Grove by 12 or more (yes, it’s a strange scenario). In a three way playoff, Sherman would need Westfield to take No. 3, giving them No. 4 (head to head over CL). If Chautaqua Lake wins three-way tie break, Westfield gets No. 4. Sherman's six-point win over Clymer hurts, as Westfield and Chaut Lake won by 20.

---Keith McShea


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About Prep Talk

Keith McShea

Keith McShea

Keith McShea has covered high school sports at The News since his hiring in 1999. The 1995 University at Buffalo graduate and Long Island native (North Babylon Bulldogs) covers — and live blogs — everything from scrimmages to state championships & helps head The News' All-Western New York selections.

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