The Van Wert County Courthouse

Thursday, Jan. 27, 2022

Monday Mailbag: playoffs and home field

SCOTT TRUXELL/independent editor

This week’s Monday Mailbag features questions about Van Wert and Crestview home playoff scenarios, plus home field advantage in high school football.

Q: What is the most likely playoff scenario for Van Wert in terms of seeding and home games? Name withheld upon request

A: Assuming the Cougars beat Bath on Friday (Bath is much improved and I’m sure is eager to spoil the party), Van Wert will almost certainly finish as the No. 2 or No. 3 seed in Region 14.

However, No. 5 seed Clyde’s game against No. 1 seed Bellevue could be big, especially if Clyde wins. Trust me, there’s no love lost between those rivals. Win or lose I believe Bellevue will remain as the No. 1 seed but if Clyde wins, the Fliers should vault to No. 2 or No. 3.

If Van Wert finishes 9-1 I believe the Cougars will almost certainly host two playoff games. After that, it’ll be neutral sites, then it becomes a matter of which teams match up well against others.

Q: I notice that on the toss-up football games, you usually pick the home team. It makes sense that players prefer to play at home and that there are usually far more home fans than visiting fans at the games.

Still, I wonder how big the home field advantage really is in high school football. If there were no home field advantage, you would expect that home teams would win 50 percent of the time, visiting teams 50 percent of the time. Is the home field advantage small, big, or non-existent? Your thoughts? Name withheld upon request

A: In most cases I do believe in home field advantage but it may vary based on various factors.

One of those is simply the convenience factor of playing at home. There’s no travel, players and coaches very familiar with the surroundings and as you mentioned, the home side is larger than the visiting side, which creates a more friendly atmosphere.

There’s the tradition factor. Most teams are taught to defend their home field and there are a number of those teams that do it quite well. I have a friend who’s been a head coach at the same school since 1991 and he’s run a very successful program. His teams have lost something like 14 home games in that span. Think about that – 14 home losses in 31 seasons with five (and in some cases six) games played at home each season.

Going to play at certain places can be intimidating and I believe that plays a role.

It may be a different story for teams that have struggled over the years but when a turnaround occurs, it usually starts with defending home turf.

Sometimes home field advantage can be negated with talent and coaching. Van Wert did it last season, winning playoff games at Bellevue and Shelby – two teams that typically don’t lose at home.

One thing I don’t believe in – the home field officiating angle, at least at the high school level. It may or may not be different at higher levels, but I don’t believe it’s real at the high school level, i.e. Team A had a call go their way because they’re at home or Team B had a call go against them because they’re the away team.

Q: What are Crestview’s chances of hosting a playoff game this year? To me they seem pretty slim right now. Name withheld upon request

A: A win over Leipsic would provide a boost but you also have to look at the teams ahead of Crestview. The Knights are currently the unofficial No. 10 seed and would travel to No. 7 seed Antwerp if the playoffs began this week.

The Achers play 1-8 Hicksville this week, No. 8 seed Patrick Henry plays at 9-0 Archbold and No. 9 seed Ayersville will play at 0-9 Paulding. With all due respect to Hicksville and Paulding, Antwerp and Ayersville can be considered as heavy favorites.

As I’ve said before, I’m not a Harbin Points guru. There are people who can get in there and figure out each and every one of the Level 1 and Level 2 points, the divisors, etc. but I’m not one of them. There’s a reason I don’t do math for a living.

The top eight seeds will host first round games and with a win over Leipsic, I believe it would be close.

If you have a question or comment for the next Monday Mailbag, please email it to sports@thevwindependent.com.

POSTED: 10/18/21 at 4:03 am. FILED UNDER: Sports