FAIRMONT — Playoff stakes will be spread across the entire state this Friday with postseason fates and seedings still sitting in limbo.
There are snippets of the annual playoff narratives across the three classes — sub .500 teams poised to make the 16-team field in Class AAA, a bloodbath just to nudge into a double-digit seed in Class AA, and a funhouse of trying to link records to seeds in Class A with all the scheduling quirks. But there are also a handful of surprises compared to last year’s postseason and preseason expectations.
Heading into the final week, there projects to be at least 15 new playoff teams this season across the three classes, with another handful of spots on the bubble.
In Class AAA, Hedgesville, Ripley and Morgantown are practically locks to miss the playoffs after making the 16-team field last season, while Hurricane (No. 17, 3-6) and John Marshall (No. 16, 4-5) are 2018 playoff teams square on the bubble. Hurricane already owns 13 bonus points in the WVSSAC rankings, which ranks 11th in Class AAA, and hosts 1-8 St. Albans in its finale this week, while John Marshall (7 bonus points) hosts No. 6 Wheeling Park (7-2).
George Washington (No. 7, 6-3) is a lock to be a new postseason entry, while South Charleston (No. 13, 4-5), Riverside (No. 14, 4-5) and Preston (No. 15, 4-5) will try to hold onto their spots on the fringes of the 16-team bracket.
In Class AA, at least five teams will fall out of the playoff picture compared to last season, with Wayne, Oak Hill, Petersburg, Robert C. Byrd and Point Pleasant all on the outside looking in, with RCB and Point having hosted first-round games last season. Weir, the No. 12 seed last year, who notched a pair of upsets to reach the state semis, is also out of the 16-team field at the moment sitting at No. 19. The Red Riders’ regular season is over at 6-4, and they’ll need a lot of help this week to carve out a playoff return.
Lewis County, last year’s No. 16 seed, is sitting at No. 16 again entering its finale against a 1-8 Grafton team that won’t get the Minutemen many bonus points. James Monroe and Sissonville are lurking at Nos. 17 and 18, respectively, with both sitting at 6-3 as well. There are also six Class AA teams bunched up at 7-2 in the Nos. 10-15 slots.
Oak Glen (No. 7, 10-0), North Marion (No. 8, 7-2), Winfield (No. 11, 7-2), Wyoming East (No. 11, 7-2), Man (No. 14, 7-2) and Liberty Harrison (No. 15, 7-2) are currently in line to become new Class AA playoff participants versus 2018, with Oak Glen and North Marion possibly jumping all the way up into the top half as first-round hosts.
In Class A, almost half of the 16-team bracket is bound to change compared to last season, with Tucker County, Magnolia, Sherman, Van, Webster County, Mount View, and Summers County all slotted well shy of the No. 16 slot entering the season’s final week. Tucker and Magnolia, in particular, have fallen on hard times, with the two teams sitting at a combined 0-18 after going 13-7 in 2018.
Elsewhere, Tyler Consolidated and Parkersburg Catholic are in danger of making the Class A playoff field an even 50 percent overhaul or even more as the two teams enter the final week sitting at Nos. 17 and 18, respectively. Tyler Consolidated can play its way in with a victory, but it’ll be tough on the road at No. 6 St. Marys (7-2). The Crusaders, meanwhile, will need help with their season over at 6-4. A solid 19 bonus points to their name (tied for 10th in Class A) still has the door cracked open, however.
Greenbrier West, Tolsia, St. Marys, Tygarts Valley, Tug Valley, Moorefield, East Hardy, South Harrison and Madonna are the nine fresh faces in the Class A field as the rankings stand entering this week. Greenbrier West (8-1) in the No. 4 slot and Tolsia (6-3) and St. Marys (7-2) tied for No. 6 have legit shots to host first-round matchups.