By Stephen Smoot
The West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission made key changes that will affect how high school football squads are rated for playoff contention. As Wayne Ryan, assistant director of the WVSSAC explained, the organization had discussed these rule changes for some time, but COVID forced a deferral of their implementation.
Officials wished to reward schools that schedule quality opponents.
In the previous system, point bonuses came from playing schools in a higher class. A win over a Class AAA team was 12 points. Class AA teams rated nine points and Class A wins were worth six. Teams could also earn bonus points for wins by the opponent.
As Ryan explained on Metro News, “It used to be if you beat the team you receive bonus points for games they won. Now every team you play, it is a competitive strength of schedule component. Any team you play now, you will receive bonus points for every game they win in their class and above. That would be based on 1.2 for AAA, 0.9 for AA and 0.6 for A.”
For example, Pendleton County narrowly lost to James Monroe in the opening game last year. The Wildcats, under the system starting this year, would have earned six bonus points from James Monroe’s 10 total wins.
Powerhouse programs, such as Keyser, have had to schedule games far from Mineral County since regional teams often hesitated to play them. Now teams have more incentive to play tougher competition, which should help to strengthen the weaker programs while also giving them a better shot at the playoffs.
The WVSSAC also approved moving to a four class system for all sports, starting in 2024-25.
Zac Smith, head football coach of Pendleton County, agreed that a change to a four class system is overdue. Some schools had “four hundred kids and are still in single A. Ours is 230 to 240. You’re talking another 15 kids coming out for football for those schools.”
Smith also pointed out that private schools enjoy a powerful advantage over other single A programs. He explained that “Wheeling Central’s enrollment is very small, but the area they recruit from is enormous.” With a 100 mile recruiting radius “they have no business being in single A.”
He also speculated that under the new system that Moorefield and its rising enrollment “won’t stay single A for long.”