The 2020 prep football season in West Virginia will long be remembered for the upheaval caused by COVID-19.
The Secondary School Activities Commission released its final playoff ratings Saturday evening that determine the 16 postseason berths in each class, but not without some drama. The Department of Education’s weekly color-coded COVID-19 risk factor map was delayed more than three hours for further validation of data, which figures to greatly affect the first-round matchups coming from the playoff ratings.
The SSAC decided Friday not to eliminate teams from counties with high COVID numbers (red and orange) on its final ratings, which it had considered earlier in the week, along with moving up teams 17th and below.
Instead, the SSAC opted to leave those teams in the ratings and allow them the chance to improve their COVID numbers for the next WVDE map on Nov. 14. If they do improve to green (lowest risk), yellow or gold, they’ll play their assigned games on the afternoon of Sunday, Nov. 15. If they remain in orange or red, their opponents advance uncontested to the quarterfinals.
The only exception to that plan is if a game is delayed until Sunday because if a team is high-risk and its opponent is not, and then the high-risk team improves its status and is able to play, but its opponent falls into orange or red on the Nov. 14 map, then the opponent that waited a week will advance uncontested and gets a week to see if its COVID numbers improve on the Nov. 21 map for its quarterfinal game.
As an example, on the Department of Health and Human Resources’ daily state map, 12 counties on Saturday morning were listed in orange and one in red. In those 12 counties were eight — of half — of the schools in the Class AAA field. Most likely, all of the games with those teams will be scheduled for Sunday.
The lower-seeded team in each matchup gets to select the day and time of the game, and the higher seed picks the approved game site, usually its home field. Those determinations will be made Sunday during a meeting at the SSAC office in Parkersburg.
In matchups involving local teams:
No. 1 Cabell Midland (5-0) will host No. 16 John Marshall (5-4). Midland had great difficulty scheduling games this season, mainly because of opponents in red or orange counties being prohibited from playing, but also because of teams reluctant to take on the powerful Knights.
No. 11 Hurricane (4-2) at No. 6 Spring Valley (4-1), AAA: These MSAC schools were supposed to play on Friday, but Wayne County was in orange and couldn’t go. They did meet twice last season, though, with the Timberwolves taking victories of 28-7 and 34-6 (playoffs).
Contact Rick Ryan at 304-348-5175 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @RickRyanWV.