Wristen: The numbers speak for themselves
Last month I caught some criticism for writing a column suggesting that all five of the Kaw Valley League’s football teams that reached the state playoffs were hindered by the league not being very strong this year.
Some mistook it as an excuse for the teams losing in the postseason, which it was not. The point, which was clearly stated, was that KVL football simply wasn’t strong enough this year to make teams fully prepared for the playoffs. Sure, games were played, but there weren’t enough great battles to expose weaknesses, prepare players to tackle superior athletes or toughen a team’s mettle.
Simply put: Who you play says a lot about who you become as a team.
Your record doesn’t fully define how good you are, despite what Bill Parcells once said.
Leagues have up and down years as classes come and go.
The KVL was stout in 2008. Good teams beat up on each other, and the postseason payoff was two state quarterfinal teams in 5A (Mill Valley and Turner) and the 4A state runner-up (Perry-Lecompton).
Some teams had sparkling records this season, but when the postseason arrived the KVL’s collective playoff record was 1-5, which backs up my argument.
As a comparison, let’s look at the most successful leagues in the Class 4A, 5A and 6A state playoffs.
The Frontier League, a 4A powerhouse, produced four of the eight state quarterfinal teams in the playoffs (Louisburg, De Soto, Baldwin, Paola) as well as the state champion (Louisburg).
The Eastern Kansas League — home to such programs as St. Thomas Aquinas and 2009 4A state champion Bishop Miege — produced two of the 5A semifinalists (Gardner-Edgerton, Blue Valley) and the state champion (Blue Valley).
The Sunflower League was home to half of the 6A state quarterfinalists (Olathe North, Olathe South, Olathe East, Shawnee Mission Northwest) and the state runner-up (Olathe North).
Six of the 10 Centennial League teams advanced to the state quarterfinals in various classes (Topeka Hayden in 4A; Shawnee Heights, Seaman and Emporia in 5A; Manhattan and Junction City in 6A).
Finally, the Greater Wichita League was home to 6A champion Wichita Heights and 5A runner-up Bishop Carroll.
Many factors go into why a team wins or loses in the postseason, such as how well a coach prepares a team, whether or not a matchup is favorable, and some teams simply are superior. Regardless, I have always been — and always will be — a firm believer that good competition makes a team better, and the payoff usually comes in the playoffs.