Third & Long – Week Eleven

The End

The leaves have fallen. The temperature has creeped to a cold crisp that strikes as you walk out the door each morning. As November rolls in, the final sentences of this 2022 season are being written. We exit this chapter of the season and start preparing for the finale. While for 48 teams their season will continue for a few more weeks- for most, it has come to an end.

For many of the seniors, this was it. No more football, and they enter a new phase of their life. What many struggle with is that their identity is forever altered from this moment on. They are not a “football player”. They don’t have that status any longer. They’re just another person, another guy. It’s something that many seniors will struggle with over the next couple of months. Yes, they have other sports, and they feel connected to those teams as well. It’s just not the same as stepping away from gridiron.

Those that dwell on it still have that twinge in their soul when they talk about their last time on a high school football field or even the last time they were in that lockerroom with friends. While it’s not the largest or most significant mental wound that you will ever feel in your life, it is still one that hurts, and it never goes away.

Was it Worth It?

It’s no secret that the “High School Transfer Portal” was highly talked about throughout the offseason and most of the regular season. People had strong opinions on both sides of the argument. Hindsight is always 20/20, and there will be many adults (seriously, they get way too worked up over a sixteen year old’s decision) that will give their two cents worth on the topic.

The question is: was it worth it? With all cases, it’s individually based. It’s not a clear statement where everyone is right or wrong. Was it worth leaving your friends that you grew up with and your hometown team? Well, for some cases, it probably was. They got to play on a successful team, and they weren’t necessarily fitting in too well at their old school. For others, I’m not sure it was the best of moves. Beforehand, you could say it was in the best interest of the kid and family but now, I am not so sure.

Do you miss out on a ton of memories that you could’ve had with your team? Absolutely. Could you have been miserable at your first school and needed a fresh start? 100% on that as well. The only hope is that there is a little sliver of peace with the decision that these kids have made. No regrets and they can move forward with their lives. If someone brings it up in a negative way, just take a step back and try to see it from their perspective.

The Most Outrageous Playoff System

Sadly, I am not here to blast WVSSAC system. Are there issues with strength of schedule, and how the best teams typically find each other in the early rounds? Sure, absolutely. I wanted to attempt something different. What is the most outrageous system one could think of?

The most outrageous system that could never happen is a King of the Hill tournament. Put Martinsburg in Wheeling for months on end, and they stay there until they lose. It may take years or months but eventually they will run out of healthy players, and someone would knock them off.

That is not a plausible scenario- one that would never happen in high school football in the state of West Virginia. What’s something maybe a litte more realistic?

First thought: every team made the playoffs. Though, that would just take too much time, and the season would extend another three weeks minimum. More football would be great, but the weather gets poor, and other schools prefer basketball over football anyways.

Regional system? Just like all the other sports. Could work, but same issue as above. Takes too long, and eventually you just run out of weeks.

However, what if we cut the season down to eight games? That would give us an extra two weeks on the schedule. As a follower of European Soccer (many of you may close out this article after that sentence)- what if we had a group play then a playoff with the top four teams out of the groups?


Play eight games and the top sixteen teams get sent to the “playoffs”. The next sixteen get sent to another tournament. More games and someone gets a trophy for winning the high school football equivalent of college basketball’s NIT.

For the “playoffs”, the sixteen teams would get separated into groups of four based on WVSSAC ratings.

How would it look this year (Note: using the prognosticator and pulling from this year’s records).  

Group AGroup BGroup CGroup D
Hurricane
Spring Valley
Jefferson
University
Parkersburg South
Musselman
Woodrow Wilson
Morgantown
Martinsburg
Bridgeport
Cabell Midland
Princeton
Huntington
George Washington
Wheeling Park
Hedgesville

From that point on, each team would play the others in their group. This would give you a total of 11 games through group play. In this case, Group C would be incredible to watch. Imagine the excitement of watching the draw and seeing who you will get. Group B would be wide open, and who would come out of Group D is up for debate.

The top team out of each group (by record or point differential if ties) would make it to the semifinals and be seeded 1-4. Winners of those two games would go onto the championship.

It’s absolutely outrageous and would never happen. It would require massive changes into the history of how we did things as a state. It would be pretty fun though.

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