Horde coaches question playoff selection criteria

W in and not in? Questions surround Horde playoff ouster

When the lights went out on the Corinth football field last Friday night, the Granville Golden Horde headed home confident it had secured a spot in the playoffs by virtue of its 48-20 win over the Tomahawks and 4-3 season record.

All that changed Sunday, however, when Granville learned it had been edged out of the Section II Class C playoff picture by what head coach Mario Torres considers a confusing and unfair interpretation of the rules.

“It completely political and it’s unfortunate. It’s unfortunate that adults ruined it for the kids,” Torres said.

Going into last Friday night’s game, Torres said, the team and coaching staff thought if they won at Corinth and took all of the possible quarter points to be had – seven for each game a team plays —  they would be in the playoffs. The only question remaining would be the Horde’s opponent.

It appeared Granville had taken care of business Friday, leading every quarter of the game en route to the 48-20 victory over the Tomahawks.

At least it seemed that way.

Torres and his staff believed after Friday’s victory that head-to-head match ups would be out of consideration because all three of the tied teams in the north — Granville, Tamarac and Mechanicville — had not played each other.

That is in the rule book, Torres said.

Granville faced Tamarac earlier in the season, falling by a safety, 24-22, and Mechanicville beat Tamarac Friday night in a come-from-behind win. But for the first time in three years Granville did not play the Red Raiders, so there was no direct method of comparison.

Coaches said they understood it was “win and in” for the Golden Horde.

Torres said after the game the team was going to be either the third or fourth seed facing Fonda or Chatham in the first round of the Section II Class C playoffs, but that was not the case just 48 hours later.

Instead, Granville learned Sunday, the Horde will play a crossover game on Saturday against Cambridge, the number-seven team in Class D. Kickoff is at 1 p.m. in Cambridge.

Before Sunday’s shocking news, Torres said, he spoke with a Section II official who confirmed the team was heading to Fonda to play at 1 p.m. Saturday. Torres said he had gone so far as to meet the Fonda head coach and exchange game film in preparation for the upcoming contest.

That conversation happened Saturday, but another completely different conversation took place Sunday morning when Torres was informed that not only was Granville somehow now no longer third seed but was completely out of the playoffs.

Torres said a vote was held and by an 8-3 margin Granville was voted out of the playoffs at the Section II level. Torres said it was coaches from AA, A and B who voted against Granville and the three votes to keep Granville in actually came from other Class C coaches; four voters abstained, including Fonda and Hoosick Falls, because the vote directly affected their playoff fortunes.

The Section II committee voted following a protest by the two coaches from Voorheesville and Tamarac, which were ousted from the playoffs by the current system that was agreed upon as recently as Oct. 13, Torres said.

This playoff system followed the rule book and directly addressed this type of scenario, Torres said. By virtue of the agreed-upon tie breaker in a three-way scenario when all of the teams had not met face-to-face quarter points were to decide the two playoff spots, meaning Granville and Mechanicville were in and Tamarac was out.

Because the system had already been agreed upon and was in place for two seasons prior to this year, Torres said, it made sense as an issue to be looked at for next season, but not to be  changed after a full season of play.

“You go by the rules,” Torres said. “And you can’t change rules to fit certain criteria – it’s wrong.”

The protesting coaches made the claim that because Mechanicville beat Tamarac and Tamarac beat Granville it was the same as Granville losing a heads-up match against Mechanicville.

Asked to explain and clarify the process Section II Football Chairman Gary VanDerzee said” “It’s real simple; it’s based on criteria.”

VanDerzee said despite the three teams involved not actually meeting on the field head-to-head, their records were considered by the committee to be 1-0, 1-1 and 0-1 with Granville’s record no wins and a loss. This is not the first time the playoff scenario has become controversial, he said.

With nine teams in each of the two divisions, VanDerzee said, the committee tries to anticipate situations like this one to create a playoff scenario that is fair to everyone.

“We want these things settled on the field,” VanDerzee said. “But we can’t foresee everything.”

Input is welcome and the Section II football head said he was open to suggestions. “There are a lot of people throwing stones at the process right now, but no one is providing any concrete ways to make it better for the kids,” VanDerzee said.

Although the Granville planned to file a protest of the decision, Torres said it was unlikely anything would change, so he is going to tell the team to focus on what it can control – its play against Cambridge.

“Life goes on so we’re going to show up at Cambridge and play our cans off. Who knows? Some times out of bad things comes something good.”

Unless something with this decision changes, the Golden Horde gets the opportunity to ruin an unblemished season as the now Class D and seventh-ranked Cambridge Indians have marched to a 6-0 record and have a bye in round one of the Section II Class D bracket.

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