At the beginning of the season, no one would have thought that a playoff berth would have depended on a matchup of teams with a combined six wins.
But when McLean held on to beat South Lakes, 20-14 Friday night, the Virginia AAA Division 6 Northern Region playoff fates of seventh-ranked Centreville and No. 8 Robinson were sealed.
The Virginia High School League's power rating system, which determines the at-large bids to the postseason, gives a team more bonus points for defeating teams with better records. As a result, the victory by McLean, a Robinson opponent, over South Lakes, a Centreville opponent, allowed the Rams (8-1) to clinch the fourth and final slot in the playoffs. This result will hold -- by as little as 0.1 point -- even if Centreville (7-2) were to win this week against Chantilly and Robinson were to lose its much-ballyhooed game against undefeated and sixth-ranked Westfield.
"Power points are what they are," Centreville Coach Mike Skinner said after being told of the results. "A couple games this weekend didn't go the way we would have hoped. I haven't told the kids that it could be coming down to one-tenth of a point."
This season was the first that Robinson played in the Concorde District, which also includes playoff-bound Westfield and No. 18 Oakton. Robinson's previous district, the Patriot, will send champion Annandale (7-2) to the postseason as an automatic bid. Centreville's on-field resume includes a victory over Robinson, which ended the Rams' 37-game regular season winning streak, and losses to Westfield and Oakton by a combined six points. The Wildcats have outscored their opponents, 412-173.
Centreville may have been more hurt than Robinson by the Rams scheduling Maryland private school Good Counsel. Because the VHSL does not recognize games against private schools, Centreville lost possible bonus points for Robinson's victory. Even if Oakton (7-2) drops its game this week against Annandale, Centreville's power points would still be less than the Cougars.
Still, Oakton is not quite in the clear. The results of a VHSL investigation into Oakton's possible use of an ineligible player are expected this week. Should the league find Oakton in violation, the games in which the player participated would be forfeited, and Centreville would take its spot in the playoffs.
The Division 5 playoff picture includes three teams fighting for the final spot. Madison (6-3) would join No. 20 Stone Bridge (8-1), Loudoun Valley (8-1) and Edison (8-1) in the postseason if the Warhawks defeat Marshall (5-4) on Friday. Should Madison lose, Yorktown (6-3) would have the inside track, although scenarios exist for Madison to sneak past the Patriots. If both teams lose, Jefferson (5-4) still would have an opportunity.