I'm proud of my Gwinn High School education, but there are parts of it I'm better at using than others.
Math has never been my strongest suit, but this week is one of those times each year I have to dig deep and crunch the numbers. It's Week 9 of the high school football season and there's a lot of questions to be answered over who will meet whom when the playoffs begin next Friday.
As it stands, L'Anse and Forest Park are seeded second and third in Division 8, Region 1, District 1, but are separated by a relatively small margin of just under a single playoff point. The body of work assembled over the previous eight weeks seems to indicate both would be favored in Week 9 home games with Munising and Lake Linden-Hubbell, respectively.
However, a look at the recently released "Favorites Win" projection at snooze2you.com, which calculates the likely playoff field in the event that all the higher-ranked teams win their Week 9 games, puts Forest Park ahead of L'Anse by a margin of just under a point. Why?
Well, here's a look at how the process works. I said there would be math.
Playoff point average, which determines seeding throughout the playoff field, consists of two kinds of points, which I'll refer to as base points and bonus points, divided by the number of games played by a given team.
Both FP and L'Anse have nine-game schedules, so let's throw that out.
Base points count as thus: 32 base points are received for a win over a Class D team, 48 for Class C and 64 for a Class B.
L'Anse's wins over Houghton (C), Hancock (B), Baraga (D), Ontonagon (D), West Iron County (C) and Ironwood (C) count for 272 points. FP has beaten six D's and two C's (Hurley and Norway), for 224 base points.
Both Munising and LL-H are Class D, so if both teams win, tack on 32 points to either side.
Divide by nine and you'll see L'Anse's base point average is 33.778 and FP's is 28.444.
There are two kinds of bonus points: points you get for teams you beat, for which you get eight for each of your vanquished's victories times their winning percentage, and points you get for teams that beat you, for which you get one for every win by your conqueror times their winning percentage.
The teams over which L'Anse gained its six wins have a combined record of 10-38 (.208), while FP's are 15-33 (.312). FP will gain even more if it is to beat a four-win LL-H team than L'Anse will for beating a two-win Munising team.
The next step is to add the winning percentage of each team to have defeated our duo. Undefeateds North Dickinson and Northland Pines add essentially a full point, while Calumet (beat L'Anse) and Gogebic (beat FP) are both basically the same.
Of course, that's how it stands now.
We have yet another layer of computations to go through because the results of Week 9 games throughout the U.P. further complicate the process.
Because we have limited space, time and brainpower, we're not going to fully go to that level.
The good news is that Division 6 is much easier to figure out. If Calumet takes down Gladstone tonight to get to six wins, it would take a highly improbable loss by Negaunee to Westwood for anything other than a Calumet at Boyne City pairing to take place, probably next Saturday.
But if there's one score to be looking for in L'Anse, it's the Gogebic Miners-Ironwood game. If Ironwood wins, my crack calculations indicate it may tip the balance enough to give the Hornets the higher average, whereas if it doesn't, FP probably finishes ahead. This is because adding to Ironwood's win total strengthens L'Anse's schedule and adding a loss to Gogebic weakens Forest Park's. I?think.
But if I'm wrong? Well, there's a reason I went on to major in something other than math in college.
Brandon Veale can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/redveale.