HomeFootballOneida FootballUpdate: Rockwood adds another game, shakes up playoff seeding race

Update: Rockwood adds another game, shakes up playoff seeding race

The Region 2-2A playoff seeding battle is about to be further complicated.

With Oneida’s upset win over Monterey shaking up the region standings, the team that stands to lose the most — Rockwood — will host Oakdale in a hastily-scheduled game Monday night, which will have an impact on the standings.

Going into Friday’s Oneida-Monterey game, most folks expected a win by the Wildcats, which would’ve set the region’s top three seeds as Monterey, Rockwood and Oneida, in that order, with the Wildcats and the Tigers hosting first round games.

Coming out of Friday’s game, which the Indians won 20-13, it looked like the final finishing order might be Oneida, Monterey and Rockwood, barring an upset somewhere in the final two weeks of the regular season. That was because the Tigers had earlier lost out on playing a game due to covid and could only finish with a maximum of six wins.

But with the Tigers now scheduled to host Oakdale, they can get themselves back into the race for the region’s No. 1 seed, or at least assure themselves an opportunity to host a first round playoff game. The scheduling update means Rockwood will play three games in a span of eight days, but TSSAA does not have a regulation stating that a team cannot play more than one game in a single week.

Oakdale (5-2) replaces Cloudland (7-1) on Rockwood’s schedule. The Rockwood-Cloudland game had been scheduled for September.

Here’s how it shakes out:

The TSSAA’s top tiebreaker in high school football is head-to-head outcomes. Oneida defeated Monterey, Monterey defeated Rockwood, and Rockwood defeated Oneida, rendering the first tiebreaker moot, assuming Rockwood defeats York Institute and Monterey defeats Wartburg in the final region games of the regular season.

The second tiebreaker is the highest number of wins. That favors Oneida, since the Indians are currently 6-2 overall. Monterey is 5-3 and Rockwood is 4-3.

Even though Oneida has a tougher schedule remaining than the other two — the Indians will face Coalfield, one of the top teams in the state in Class 1A, on Halloween weekend — the Indians can finish with seven wins by defeating winless Sequoyah this week. Monterey can finish with no more than seven wins, and Rockwood — before the schedule addition — could finish with no more than six wins.

In that scenario, Oneida would be the region’s top seed, because the second tiebreaker would eliminate Rockwood and the Indians and Wildcats would then revert back to the head-to-head tiebreaker to settle things. Monterey would be the No. 2 seed, and Rockwood would be the No. 3 seed.

Rockwood has flipped the script by getting Oakdale — which had also lost a game due to covid — to agree to play on Monday. Not only will the Tigers be expected to beat Oakdale, but the Eagles also have five wins on the season. That’s important, because the third tiebreaker — which will be needed if Oneida, Monterey and Rockwood each finish with an overall record of 7-3 — goes to the team that has played the most teams with a .500 or better record.

To be clear, Oneida still controls its own destiny for the top seed. If the Indians defeat Sequoyah and Coalfield, they’ll finish 8-2, and neither Rockwood nor Monterey can get to eight wins. 

But if the Indians lose one of their two remaining games, things could get even more interesting, and that would likely drop Oneida back into third place, facing a first round road trip to Hampton.

Of the three teams, Monterey is in the best position to wind up being the team to face the most teams with a .500 or better record. Four teams on the Wildcats’ schedule have already reached five wins: Cannon County (5-3), Stone Memorial (5-3), Waverly (6-1) and Oneida (6-2). Another, Rockwood, is currently 4-3 and is likely to get to five wins; if the Tigers don’t, the entire conversation becomes moot. And Monterey has also faced Cumberland County, which is currently 4-4 and has games remaining against Jackson County and Macon County.

Meanwhile, Rockwood has or will face four teams that have already gotten five wins: Kingston (7-1), Monterey (5-2), Oneida (6-2) and Oakdale (5-2). A fifth team, Harriman, is currently 4-5, with only Oakdale remaining to play. 

Oneida has or will face three teams that have gotten to five wins: Williamsburg (6-2), Monterey (5-3) and Coalfield (6-2). Throw in Rockwood, and that makes four teams. A fifth team, Greenback, is currently 3-4, with games remaining against Midway and Oakdale.

So, what has to happen for Oneida to host a first round playoff game? The surest way is for the Indians to take care of business against Sequoyah and Coalfield. That takes everything else out of the equation.

But if the Indians lose one of their two remaining games, then several things have to happen: 

First, Greenback must win its two remaining games, against Midway and Oakdale, then Oakdale must beat Harriman, and Cumberland County must lose to Jackson County and Macon County. That scenario would leave Oneida with five opponents at .500 or better, Monterey with five, and Rockwood with four. Rockwood would be eliminated from the tie breaking process, and Oneida has the head-to-head win over Monterey. The finishing order would be Oneida, then Monterey, then Rockwood.

If Greenback wins out, and Oakdale defeats Harriman, but Cumberland County wins one of its two remaining games, the finishing order would be Monterey, Oneida and Rockwood. The Indians would still host a playoff game, but would have the No. 2 seed instead of the No. 1 seed.

If Greenback does not win out, Oneida will be the No. 3 seed, behind Monterey and Rockwood. 

If Greenback wins out and Cumberland County loses out, but Harriman defeats Oakdale, things become even more complicated. At that point, Oneida, Monterey and Rockwood would all have five games against teams with .500 or better records, and the process would move to a fourth tiebreaker — which doesn’t favor the Indians.

The fourth tiebreaker is wins over teams with a .500 or better record. If it reaches this scenario, the Indians would only have two wins over teams with .500 or better records, while Monterey and Rockwood would each have three (unless the Indians defeat Coalfield and lose to Sequoyah, which would require yet another tiebreaker). So, in this scenario, the finishing order would be Monterey, Rockwood and Oneida.

So, the bottom line? Rockwood is getting creative with TSSAA rules in an effort to keep the right to host a playoff game, and it may very well pay off. On paper, the most likely scenarios have the Indians now finishing third and traveling for the first round of the playoffs. However, the Indians still control their own destiny, and can capture the No. 1 seed by defeating both Sequoyah and Coalfield. 

The other flies in the ointment still remain: If York can find a way to defeat Rockwood, or if Wartburg can find a way to defeat Monterey, everything that you’ve just read goes out the window. 

Otherwise, the Indians’ Halloween weekend game at Coalfield is likely to have the No. 1 seed in the region riding on the line. And won’t that feel like “the old days”?

The IH Sports Network is the sports voice of the northern Cumberland Plateau, providing thorough coverage of the Oneida Indians and the Scott Highlanders.

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