Since the Arizona Interscholastic Association adopted the power point ranking system last spring, Class 3A football coaches have wondered how it would affect the state tournament.
That question has been answered for Payson at least.
The Longhorns, who were ranked seventh among the 16 teams that qualified for post-season play, will open the state tournament at 7 p.m. Friday in PHS stadium against ninth ranked Eloy Santa Cruz.
Payson could have opened the tournament against eighth-rated Winslow, but since the Bulldogs won the North region championship, they are entitled to play their first state round on their home field.
Payson also earned an advantageous home field advantage, so the Horns were seeded against Santa Cruz rather than Winslow.
That's all well, good and understandable.
But should Payson defeat the Dust Devils Friday, the Horns must play in the second round against top-ranked and unbeaten Blue Ridge. Only two weeks ago, powerful Blue Ridge dealt the Horns a devastating 61-0 setback.
Barring an upset of monumental proportions, the Longhorns' trip into the state tournament will last at the most two rounds.
If the playoff system was perfect for Payson, the Horns wouldn't meet the Yellow Jackets until later in the tournament.
But, the all-powerful power ranking system has spat out its seedings and the Longhorns could be facing an ominous foe in only the second round of play.
Proponents of the system will argue that if a team is to become a state champion, it will have to play Blue Ridge, sooner or later.
So, why not in the second round?
On the other side of the fence, it can be argued that Payson squared off against BR only two weeks ago.
Should the Longhorns be forced to play the best team in the state twice in less than a month just because it qualified for the state tournament?
There are plenty of questions to be asked about the new system but only a handful of answers.
How's it work
Because it's new to the 3A conference, not many outside the confines of the AIA offices understand how the power point system works.
According to playoff guidelines, the four top finishers from each of the four geographical regions in the 3A conference are awarded power points.
Fifty victory points are awarded for each 3A win and five bonus points for all 3A opponents. The power points used for seeding are determined by the sum of the victory points and the bonus points divided by the number of 3A games played.
This year, Blue Ridge racked up the most power points and earned the No. 1 seed. As the 16-seed, Monument Valley as the unenviable task of taking on the Yellow Jackets.
Lobos get hot
You've got to hand it to the Snowflake Lobos for finally giving Blue Ridge a challenge.
Most of the season, the Yellow Jackets have romped over their opponents by 50 and 60 point margins.
But Friday in Snowflake, the Lobos gave the Jackets the scare of the lives before falling 33-26.
The fact the Lobos were able to battle tradition-rich Blue Ridge on such even terms came as a surprise to most. But not to former Payson mayor Craig Swartwood, whose son, Jake, is on the PHS varsity.
Days prior to the game, Swartwood predicted that the Lobos' passing game would be tough for the BR defense to stop. As if he was gazing into a crystal ball, Swartwood's prediction was on target. Snowflake quarterback Porter Caldwell completed 27 of 39 passes for 306 yards and four touchdowns.
If Swartwood can continue prognostications like those, he might consider a visit to a Las Vegas sports book.