State Berth For Horns Remains A Toss Up

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After rising as high as second place in the Arizona Interscholastic Association power point rankings, the Longhorn football team has fallen to 11th — primarily due to three consecutive losses.

In early September, the Longhorns (then 3-1) were sitting No. 2 among the conference’s 28 teams. The Horns had amassed 162.899 weighted total points, which was second only to Empire’s (4-0) 164.717 points.

Yesterday, Monday, the Horns (now 4-4) are 11th with 276.449 weighted points.

Show Low, which has amassed 301.856 points, is holding down first place in the standings, just ahead of Blue Ridge (289.856). The Yellow Jackets and Cougars clash Friday in Lakeside and if BR wins, it will take over ownership of first place.

For Payson, it now appears its ticket to the state tournament might lie with power points.

In the state playoff and power points system, the top three teams from each of the four regions advance to the state tournament, as well as four at-large teams based on power points.

With Blue Ridge, Show Low and Snowflake holding down the top three slots in the East regular season standings, it would be difficult for the Horns to earn a top-three seed.

The Longhorns, however, could make it into the 16-team tournament with a solid finish in power points.

Some of the teams the Horns must remain ahead of in the rankings include Holbrook (5-3), Parker (6-2), Safford (4-4) and Wickenburg (5-2).

Power points a bugaboo

Of course power points have been a bugaboo for PHS since they were first instituted.

Remember last baseball season when the Longhorns were denied a state tournament berth at the very last moment because of a screwy set of power points circumstances?

Although the Horns lost to Show Low in a regular season finale, most thought the Longhorns would advance to state via the power points route.

That course closed, however, when lowly Parker (2-14), which was ranked 27th among the 3A’s 28 teams, earned a state berth by finishing among the top three teams in the West division baseball tournament.

The Broncos inclusion into the tournament meant the Longhorns, even though they were rated 16th in power points (74.2857), were denied a state tournament berth.

Rendering the power points system even more mystifying is that Show Low (72.1429) was also ranked below Payson in 19th place.

In November of 2009, just after regular season football wrapped up, there were angry fans around small-town Arizona vehemently arguing that four teams left out of the state tournament — Payson, Coolidge, Santa Cruz and River Valley — were actually head and shoulders above teams included in the tournament — including Window Rock and Monument Valley.

Also, a very weak 4-6 Parker team that was fourth in the West Region, advanced as a No. 15 seed.

During the season, the Broncos lost 42-0 to Class 2A Yuma Catholic, 63-0 to Wickenburg, 56-6 to Estrella Foothills and 35-14 to a Santa Cruz team that didn’t qualify for the playoffs.

For Longhorn fans, Chino Valley’s No. 8 berth in the tournament was a bitter pill to swallow since Payson beat the Cougars 22-21.

During the season, Chino never proved to be much of a state caliber team, falling 21-3 to Estrella Foothills, 46-0 to South Pointe and 21-0 to 2A Camp Verde.

Then there was the issue with Holbrook advancing with a fairly lofty No. 10 seed.

During the season, the Roadrunners lost to Snowflake 15-6, Blue Ridge 57-0 and Winslow 38-16. Holbrook, however, thrived on the weak reservation teams from the North Region.

All in all, the tournament seeding a year ago seemed to favor the schools that were aligned in the weaker regions and give lesser credence to those from the tougher regions, such as the East.

Anxious fans from around the Rim Country have their fingers cross that such slights don’t occur again.

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