Aia Power Points Formula Daunting; Coaches Hopeful

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Fire up the scientific calculator and dust off the slide rule, abacus, Chisanbop and Napier’s bones — the Arizona Interscholastic Association has released its power points ranking system for all four divisions, I through IV.

Upon first look, it’s obviously a doozey.

The formula:

.50 (Victory Points) + .45 (Opponent Victory Points) + .05 (Opponent’s Opponent Victory Points)

Divided by:

The Number of AIA Member School Regular Season Games Scheduled

Most important about the system is that it will be used during the 2011-2012 to seed teams into the postseason and coaches know from experience in the past two years with power points, the rankings are not perfect.

Also it’s obvious from looking at the formula, that so-called “victory points” must be calculated before the method can be put to use.

In the AIA formula, opponent victory points from each opponent are calculated by taking the total number of opponent victory points earned divided by that opponent’s number of counting games or ones played against AIA member schools.

That dividend will then be multiplied by the number of counting games of your school to determine the opponent victory total earned by that one opponent for power ranking purposes.

Whew, that makes the Quadratic formula look rather simple.

The AIA has also come up with a matrix for all divisions with scales of different point value.

For example, football has a 50-point scale; soccer, 70 points; and girls volleyball, 90 points.

To keep track of power points a coach or school official must log on to the AIA Web site and insert information including win-loss record and number of games for the team.

Only time will tell just how refined the power points system is, but coaches around the state have their fingers crossed the system will run more smoothly than it has in the past.

In particular, coaches are still scratching their noggins about what occurred in the 2009 3A football playoff seedings.

That season power points were awarded only on the final seven games.

That’s because the new computerized scheduling system the AIA was using, teams didn’t have to play a full slate of 10 games. Some teams that year played as few as eight games.

Those teams that didn’t fare well in the first three games were not penalized in the power point system, but those games were not calculated for power points.

The playoff seeding bafflement began with the determination of No. 1 involving Fountain Hills and Blue Ridge. Both teams tied for the lead in power points, even though Blue Ridge was 9-0 on the season and seriously challenged only once. Fountain Hills was 8-2 overall, losing 27-21 to Estrella Foothills and 9-6 to Wickenburg.

But because of the power points tie, AIA officials were forced to go all the way to the fourth tiebreaker — “Highest ranked opponent that counted for power points” — to break the dead knot between the Yellow Jackets and Falcons.

Oddly enough, “most wins during the season” or “best overall record” were not one of the tiebreakers.

Since Fountain Hills’ highest-ranked win was over No. 6 Empire, and Blue Ridge’s highest-ranked win was against No. 7 Round Valley, FH took the No. 1 seed to state and the Jackets fell to No. 2.

That baffled almost everyone since the Jackets were the state’s top-ranked team and championship favorite all season long.

Slighting the undefeated Jackets makes a bit more sense when it is remembered the first three games of the season were not counted in the power points rankings. Fountain Hills’ two losses occurred in the first two games of the season.

Adding even more controversy were the records and accomplishments of some of the lesser teams to make it into the tournament. Some schools seemed almost unworthy of a playoff berth.

For example, Window Rock had the tournament’s No. 16 seed, despite finishing with a 5-5 overall record and 3-3 in the football-impaired North Region.

During the season, the Fighting Scouts lost 61-16 to Round Valley, 65-12 to Winslow and 47-28 to Monument Valley.

MV actually finished with a 4-6 overall record, but went to state with a 13th seed, mostly because the team was third in the North Region.

Those credentials were hardly worthy of playoff teams.

There are those in small-town Arizona who vehemently argued that four teams left out of the state tournament — Payson, Coolidge, Santa Cruz and River Valley — were actually head and shoulders above 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, who was not in the state tournament, beat the Cougars 22-21 on Sept. 6.

PHS coaches are joining others from around the state hoping the new power points ranking system for Division IV will contain none of the flaws that have existed before, especially in 2009.

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