CAMDEN Despite how complicated the playoff picture is in the South, its pretty simple for the Camden Fairview Cardinals (5-4, 4-2): Win and you’re in.
In all scenarios, if CF can win Friday night then the Cardinals are guaranteed a spot in the 5A State Playoffs.
But, CF’s opponent is way better than their record indicates.
The Little Rock McClellan Crimson Lions (4-5, 2-4) are a formidable foe with a championship pedigree under the direction of its head coach Maurice Moody. While the Lions are all but out of the playoffs, they will be competing in its last football game before combining with Little Rock Fair next year and moving to the 7A Classification. The fact that the game will be senior night for McClellan adds more fuel to the fire.
In a lot of ways, the Cardinals and the Lion’s seasons are similar in that they both were extremely competitive in their losses. CF’s two conference losses came by a total of two points and McClellan’s four conference losses by a total of nine points. The Lions even took the conference leading Lakeside Rams into overtime last week on the road before losing 21-20.
McClellan also leads the conference in scoring (313 points) averaging nearly 35 points per game.
The Cardinals history with McClellan spans back to the 90’s when 5A was the biggest classification in Arkansas High School football. When they shared the same conference in the 90’s, the teams played three times and the games were decided by a total of four points. In fact, the last time C.F. beat McClellan was in a 35-34 double overtime game in Little Rock back in 1998.
The two teams met on the gridiron for the first time in 19 years last year, with McClellan dominating the Cardinals, 34-6.
CF enters Friday night’s game a little banged up after a big time win against Hot Springs Trojans (28-14.) In that game, starting quarterback Logan Robertson and starting running back Erik Hall left with injuries in the first half. Amari Pace, Payton Byrd, Jamario Williams and Nick Burdue all played through nagging injuries during the game. While each player is anticipated to be back in action by Friday, nothing is for certain.
The Cardinals will play against its second sophomore quarterback in a row when it lines up against the speedy Joshua Brown. Last week, Brown got loose for an 82 yard touchdown run and only completed one pass which was a 50 bomb that would set up a touchdown.
The McClellan defense held Lakeside in check until late, only allowing a total of 50 yards at half time.
Understanding the possible “mini-conference”
The 5A South can very well end up in a five way tie for first place with one of the co-conference champions missing the playoffs all together. In the event, CF, Hot Springs, Lakeside, Texarkana and Magnolia all win on Friday, each team will be 5-2 in conference. This would result in those teams forming what is called a “mini-conference” according to Page 65 of the the Arkansas Activities Association’s 2018-2019 handbook. The handbook states the following:
- “Rule 5. TIEBREAKING PROCEDURE.
- A. If two teams tie, and one of the teams has defeated the other in a regular schedule conference game, the winner shall be declared the conference play-off representative. Three or more tied teams shall first be considered in sets of two-way ties.
- NOTE: If three or more teams are tied, use head to head record among the tied teams (a mini-conference) to break ties for seeding. Only utilize points to break ties among teams when the ties are a perfect triangle with each team having the same record among the tied teams (mini- conference).
- B. If two teams tie and the tied teams split or have not played each other in a conference game (no round robin) the team with the greater sum of winning margin using the following point system, shall be the play-off representative.
- C. If more than two teams remain tied after applying (A) above, the following point system shall be used to eliminate all but two teams. Tabulate the sum of the winning margins of each team’s conference games as indicated in the following:
- 1. If the margin of victory is more than 13 points only 13 points shall count.
- 2. Losses shall be tallied as 0 (zero) points.
- 3. Forfeited games. Offended teams shall receive 13 points when tabulating the sum of the winning margins for breaking conference ties.
- D. After tabulating the sum of the winning margins, all teams except the two with the greater sum shall be eliminated, and the selection process shall begin again with paragraph (A).
- E. If teams remain tied after the above procedures are applied, the play-off representative shall be
- determined by a coin toss. The coin toss, supervised by the Executive Director, shall be used to eliminate all but two teams and then begin again with paragraph (A).
- F. In the event the conference is eligible for more than one play-off representative, each subsequent play off representative shall be chosen by reapplying the procedures above.
- G. All conferences will use the AAA adopted procedures for breaking ties that occur in the order of
- standings when round robin schedules are completed.”
In the event the 5A South ends up being a mini conference, CF has the biggest winning margin among the teams in five way tie (19). Texarkana has 9 tie breaker points and Magnolia has 4. Hot Springs (3) and Lakeside (1) are the only teams remaining in the possible mini conference that hasn’t played yet with the margin of victory playing a part. However, it’s important to note that the most points either HS or Lakeside can use is 13 which would still leave CF in the lead in terms of tie breaker points.
Based on these regulations, these are a few scenarios that could play out on Friday night.
Best case scenario - CF and Hot Springs wins
The best case scenario for the Cardinals is a win against McClellan and a Lakeside loss at Hot Springs. If this was to occur, the Cardinals would earn the No. 1 seed in the five way tie thanks to its tie breaker points over Lakeside. It would also help the Cardinals if a major upset of De Queen over Texarkana or Hope over Magnolia happened.
- Camden Fairview
Worst case scenario - CF loses and Hot Springs wins
If C.F. loses Friday - even if its by one point - and Hot Springs defeats Lakeside with Texarkana and Magnolia winning their last games of the season, CF would drop to a 4-3 record and miss the playoffs with Lakeside, Hot Springs, Magnolia and Texarkana all being 5-2.
- Hot Springs
Other scenarios that will put CF in the playoffs - CF and Lakeside win/CF loss and Lakeside win
If Lakeside wins then the Rams will win the 5A South title even with a C.F. win. That would lead CF to a four-way tie for second despite having a head-to-head win over Lakeside and tie breaker points would come in to consideration with the margin of victory in the Lakeside/Hot Springs game determining which team falls where. While CF would be in the tie for second, it would get the fourth seed in this scenario because of its head to head losses to Texarkana and Magnolia. Hot Springs would drop out of the mini conference with the third loss so CF’s head-to-head win over the Trojans wouldn’t matter.
If CF loses Friday, Lakeside wins, and Magnolia and Texarkana wins, CF will still have a shot at getting in the playoffs thanks to holding the maximum of 13 points over Hot Springs who would also sit at 4-3.
The 5A South will match up with the 5A Central conference which is led by the undefeated and defending state champion Little Rock Christian Warriors. The 5A Central is currently seeded as such:
Little Rock Christian… 9-0, 6-0
Pulaski Academy… 7-2, 5-1
Maumelle… 7-2, 4-2
White Hall… 6-3, 4-2
Watson Chapel… 5-4, 3-3