Playoff picture still murky

Published 10:22 pm Wednesday, October 22, 2014

With the high school football playoff season quickly approaching, all of Suffolk schools remain in contention to continue play after the regular season concludes.

The King’s Fork High School Bulldogs have the firmest grasp on a playoff spot in the city.

The Virginia High School League produces ratings for each of its teams, based upon variables like a team’s win-loss record and the strength of opponents it has faced.

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The top 16 rated teams in 4A South Region will move on to the postseason, and the Bulldogs stand comfortably at No. 5. In their remaining three games, they do, however, face two particularly challenging opponents in Oscar Smith High School and Western Branch High School.

The Tigers have played well this year and possess a winning streak in the former Southeastern District that extends back to 2006, making chances of a win against them seem small.

But King’s Fork challenged the Bruins last year and could have even greater success at home this year.

“The Western Branch game could be a win,” said Matthew Hatfield of

But even if the Bulldogs drop both games, they will likely defeat Hickory High School on Oct. 31 and finish at 7-3.

At worst, the Bulldogs should finish eighth or ninth, Hatfield said.

He also expects Nansemond River High School — currently at No. 13 — to make the playoffs, probably ranking anywhere from 10th to 13th.

The Warriors host Hickory High School on Friday and visit Deep Creek High School on Nov. 7, which would both seem to be winnable games. Nansemond River will host the Bruins on Oct. 31.

If the playoffs were to begin today, Lakeland High School would be in at No. 16. The Cavaliers still have challenging games left to play, though, visiting the Bruins on Friday and Grassfield High School on Nov. 7.

“Lakeland’s going to be on the bubble to the very end,” Hatfield said.

Though Grassfield had traditionally been a force in the former Southeastern District, it has struggled this year in its larger region and could find itself out of the 6A South playoff picture by Nov. 7, giving it little motivation against a Cavaliers team hungry to return to the postseason.

The Cavs should have a good shot at defeating visiting Deep Creek on Oct. 31.

It would be hard to over-emphasize the importance of Nansemond-Suffolk Academy’s home game this Friday against Trinity Episcopal School.

“I think NSA’s fate will be certain after this week as far as whether they make the playoffs,” said a spokesman for the Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association.

The top four teams in VISAA’s Division II will make it to the postseason, and their positions are determined by ratings that take into account variables like their win-loss records and strength of opponents.

The Saints are currently No. 3 among Division II schools, with Trinity Episcopal right behind at No. 4, and both teams have 4-4 records.

Knocking at the door of the top four are two 3-4 teams — The Potomac School and Randolph-Macon Academy.

The best way for NSA to secure a playoff spot is to leave the field Friday night with a win.

“I don’t see a scenario where they beat Trinity and miss the playoffs,” the VISAA spokesman said, but losing to the Titans could end their hopes.

The Saints will close out the season on Oct. 31 at struggling Hampton Roads Academy.