Ranking Every 1st Round TSSAA Football Game

The postseason has arrived! The most exciting time of the year where an entire season of work comes down to a tournament of single elimination games. Who will dominate their way to victory? Who will fail to meet expectations? Who will surprise us? All of these questions will be answered over the next month.

As a fan of high school football, it might be a bit overwhelming to sort through the nine playoff brackets. There are 108 games on tap for this week, which means 216 teams will be on fighting for their playoff lives this Friday night.

We all realize that not every playoff matchup is built equally. Some teams made the playoffs with just one win on their record, while other teams lost just two games and have to go on the road. If you are a fan who wants to go and see a great high school playoff game but don’t know where to go, we are here to help. We have ranked every game on schedule for this Friday night.

Methodology: There are a few things that make up a great football game. One is a close game, the other is a game between teams that are talented. Using the Sonny Moore Power Ratings, which ranks every team in the state of Tennessee, we were able to develop a point spread for every single game. We were also able to take an average ranking between the two teams to weigh just how good they are supposed to be. Additionally, we calculated total regular season wins between the teams. We ranked every single matchup by each piece of criteria and took the average between those three rankings.

(Disclaimer: This analysis is in no way perfect. Every year we see upsets in the playoffs. It is a major accomplishment to just make the playoffs, so all of these teams are deserving of praise for their season. This analysis is here to try and help determine which games might be the most interesting this week. We encourage everyone to go out and support their favorite school, regardless of where they rank on this list!)

Point Spread

The Sonny Moore Power Ratings give a power rating for each team, which can be used to calculate a predicted score differential between two teams. Allotting two additional points to the home team for home field advantage, we can rank every game by projected point differential.

 

Top Games

1. Kingston at Chuckey-Doak- CD favored by 0.18 points
2. Summit at Gallatin- Gallatin favored by 0.67 points
3. Knoxville Halls at Daniel Boone- Daniel Boone favored by 0.73 points
4. Westview at Wooddale- Wooddale favored by 1.04 points
5. CAK at Chattanooga Christian- Chatt. Christian favored by 1.59 points
6. Kirby at Dyer Co.- Dyer Co. favored by 2.03 points
7. Riverdale at Mt. Juliet- Riverdale favored by 3.03 points
8. Memphis Central at Collierville- Memphis Central favored by 3.40 points
9. Greenfield at MASE- MASE favored by 3.45 points
10. North Side at Creek Wood- Creek Wood favored by 3.70 points

 

As you can see, we project a number of close games this week. In fact, there are 25 games in the ranking that are projected to finish as one possession games.

Bottom Games

1. Lenoir City at Powell- Powell favored by 70.4 points
2. Jellico at Oliver Springs- Oliver Springs favored by 69.1 points
3. Sheffield at South Gibson- SGC favored by 65.4 points
4. West Greene at Alcoa- Alcoa favored by 65.1 points
5. Unaka at Greenback- Greenback favored by 62.2 points
6. Craigmont at Haywood- Haywood favored by 62.0 points
7. Jo Byrns at South Pittsburg- South Pitt favored by 61.2 points
8. Chattanooga Grace at USJ- USJ favored by 57.9 points
9. Harding Academy at ECS- ECS favored by 57.4 points
10. Bolton at Crockett Co.- Crockett favored by 54.0 points

 

These are projected to be the most lopsided games in the state this week. Not overly surprising as most of these favorites were top teams in their region, going up against the bottom ranked teams from the opposing region. Our rankings project a number of lopsided games this week, as 32 games are showing a point differential that would result in running clock games (35+ points).

Average Ranking

Point Spread was an important cog in determining the best games this week, but it is in no way the only factor. We don’t just want a close game, we want to see a close game between two high quality teams. By averaging the power ratings of each school, we can determine the overall strength of the matchup.

Top Games

1. Science Hill at Maryville
2. Lebanon at Oakland
3. Stewarts Creek at Ravenwood
4. Summit at Gallatin
5. William Blount at Dobyns Bennett
6. Bearden at McMinn Co.
7. Gibbs at Tennessee
8. Kirby at Dyer Co.
9. Howard at Greeneville
10. Franklin at Cane Ridge

 

It isn’t surprising to see some of these games toward the top of the list, as some of the top football names in the state rank toward the top. This average ranking is also generally skewed toward benefiting the larger schools, we will correct this bias in our next criteria.

Bottom Games

1. Jellico at Oliver Springs
2. Coalfield at Hancock Co.
3. Harriman at Cloudland
4. Memphis East at West Carroll
5. Collinwood at Cornersville
6. Sale Creek at Clay Co.
7. Bruceton at Huntland
8. Mt. Juliet Christian at Columbia Academy
9. Gordonsville at Copper Basin
10. Greenfield at MASE

 

As mentioned before, this piece of criteria generally skews toward benefiting the larger schools and hurting the smaller schools. We see a lot of 1A matchups in this portion of the ranking. This isn’t surprising as smaller schools are going to struggle putting together teams full of deep talent given the smaller pool of kids they have to choose from. However, not all small schools rank low on the list. One of 1A’s top teams ranks in the Top 50 in the entire state in overall ranking.

Total Wins

As mentioned in the previous section, the average ranking gives us an idea of the quality of each team playing, but it neglects to adjust for school size. The easiest way to correct this is by looking at total wins between the two teams in the matchup. For most teams, a majority of their schedule is made up of opponents in their own classification. This means if they won more games, they theoretically should be considered higher ranked with respect to their classification.

Top Games

1. Summit at Gallatin- 17 wins
1. Stewarts Creek at Ravenwood- 17 wins
3. Eagleville at Houston Co.- 16 wins
3. Richland at Huntingdon- 16 wins
3. Happy Valley at Meigs Co.- 16 wins
3. Stewart Co. at Pearl Cohn- 16 wins
3. MAHS at Peabody- 16 wins
3. East Ridge at Elizabethton- 16 wins
3. Columbia at Beech- 16 wins
3. Kirby at Dyer Co.- 16 wins
3. Gibbs at Tennessee- 16 wins

 

This ranking showcases a number of the undefeated regular season teams, whose 10 wins helped boost their matchups ranking. However, we do see some matchups between teams that both had 7+ wins.

Bottom Games

1. Bolton at Crockett Co.- 7 wins
2. Knoxville Webb at CPA- 7 wins
3. Harriman at Cloudland- 8 wins
4. Mt. Juliet Christian at Columbia Academy- 8 wins
5. Kenwood at Southwind- 8 wins
6. Raleigh Egypt at Milan- 8 wins
7. Gordonsville at Copper Basin- 9 wins
8. Fayette Academy at MTCS- 9 wins
9. St. George’s at Lausanne- 9 wins
10. Memphis Central at Collierville- 9 wins

 

While total wins aren’t always the best indicator of quality play, when you see total win values in the single digits, it is cause for concern. For instance, Bolton made the playoffs, despite winning only one game. To make matters worse, they weren’t even the lowest seeded team coming out of their region. It is issues like this that need to be addressed during the next round of reclassification and building of regions.

Overall

Using the methodology outlined above, these are the rankings for each playoff game being played tomorrow night.

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