By Anthony Bosco
I have made a semi-habit out of lambasting the Public School Athletic League over the years on a variety of topics. This year my ire was aimed at the league’s football power points system and how I feared at season’s end that justice would not be served, leaving several Queens teams out of the playoffs.
The system, which awards teams points for each win based on a “power points” system — with each team rated either 1, 3 or 5 based on presumed strength prior to the season — appeared to hamper some teams, while favoring others. This was not a planned slight at all, but certainly had the makings for disaster as the season wore on.
Heading into the final week of regular season games, it appeared that the two best teams in Queens, August Martin and Bayside, were in a dogfight for a single playoff spot. The two clubs played one another Sunday with the winner guaranteed entry into the post season and the loser expecting to pack up and call it a season.
Under normal circumstances, this would have made for high drama. Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on your perspective, that’s not how things turned out. Martin won the game, 15-6, ensuring a playoff berth. But the Commodores, thinking they had blown their last chance, left the field in tears thinking their season over.
Lo and behold later that night, Bayside coach Joe Capuana got the call from the PSAL he was hoping for, informing him that, yes, his team had made the playoffs.
It seems things fell just right for Bayside, which sneaked into the postseason as the No. 14 seed out of 14 teams, just behind Far Rockaway, the lone No. 1-rated team to make it in.
Justice seemed served. Bayside, which had more than held its own against the city’s elite this year, deserved to go, despite the team’s lackluster effort against Martin. The PSAL’s system seemed to work, despite the shortcomings I had perceived all year long.
But it is still a far from perfect system and one look at the PSAL seedings for the playoffs tells the tale.
While no one will likely dispute the top five teams, Sheepshead Bay, Lehman, Canarsie, Wagner and Fort Hamilton, I do have a problem with the way things broke down from there.
By virtue of their win over Bayside, the Martin Falcons leaped up to the No. 7 spot, just behind Curtis and one slot ahead of Beach Channel. Beach Channel, the highest seeded No. 3 team, is one of the teams I have a problem with as far as playoff seedings go.
Beach Channel was thoroughly whipped by the best three teams it played this year – Martin, Campus Magnet and Bayside. But because the team was rated as a No. 3 prior to the season, its schedule was a lot easier than both Martin and Bayside. The Dolphins finished 5-3 on the year, beating teams of equal or lesser talent. I don’t begrudge Beach Channel its success, but in the unbalanced word of the PSAL, I do take issue with the team’s high seed.
Going strictly by points, as the PSAL does, teams like Beach Channel can defeat weaker teams, some of which may have a few wins under their belts, and manage to make the playoffs. That’s fine, but no way are the Dolphins the eighth best team in the city. They are not even the third best team in Queens.
The funny thing is that because of their high seed, Beach Channel will get to face No. 9 Columbus in the first round, a team they already beat this year, 11-0.
Campus Magnet beat Beach Channel 25-0 on Sunday and the Bulldogs are seeded four slots behind them in the playoffs as the No. 12 seed, one ahead of Bayside, a team that pounded Magnet earlier this year. But that’s what happens when you go strictly by points. There is simply no logic to it.
Then there is Far Rockaway, which made the playoffs despite a low rating prior to the season based on an impressive 7-1 record. However, Far Rock built up its points against some of the weaker teams in the city, while a team like Clinton, a No. 5 rated team, finished 15th in power points and missed the playoffs. You put those two teams on the field and I don’t think anyone would bet on the SeaHorses.
By abiding strictly by the numbers, the points system is missing a lot of intangibles and common sense. When a lesser team can build up points by beating lesser teams, it still should not be able to leap-frog over a better team which has had to struggle against the best in the five boroughs.
I’ll say this, however: The power points system made things interesting entering the final week of play. That’s definitely a positive. A lot of teams were in the hunt for the playoffs and coaches and players all over the city were keeping their ears to the ground with hopes of hearing how things broke down in another game.
Another thing this year proved to me is that going back to strictly borough schedules, where teams from Queens would play only teams from Queens during the regular season, would not be a bad thing at all. Interest would be raised, rivalries renewed and the competition would not suffer. Five of 10 Queens teams made the postseason, while at least two others, Long Island City and Bryant, had respectable seasons.
But I can’t complain too much. All the right teams, at least from Queens, made the playoffs. There may be some debate about it all, but the system still managed to work in the end and for that I applaud the PSAL.
Reach Sports Editor Anthony Bosco by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 130.