Archive for Tuesday, October 3, 2006

Woodling: League standings a mystery

October 3, 2006

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Desperately seeking information about how to determine the Sunflower League football champion, I called Free State High athletic director Steve Grant.

"We've never been in contention," Grant replied, "so I've never really paid attention. All I know is it alternates every year."

Yes, that's pretty common knowledge. One year the first six games Sunflower League teams play against each other are counted. The next year it's the last six games.

So I called Mike Etinre, the Sunflower League commissioner. Which year is this, Mike?

"It's absolutely impossible for me to decipher," Etinre answered. "I can't figure it out."

The commish suggested I call Lane Green, the athletic director at OIathe North.

"Just a second," Green said when I reached him. "It's always a challenge. I always have to look it up."

Moments later, Green supplied the answer. It's the first six games in odd-numbered years and the last six in even-numbered years.

Let's see, this is 2006 so : hey, that's great news for Lawrence High. The Lions' 34-27 loss to Olathe North in the season opener doesn't count in league compilations. At the same time, however, neither does Free State's 60-0 season-opening blowout of Leavenworth.

In the same vein, Free State's 33-28 win over Olathe East in the second week counts as a win for the Firebirds, but not as a loss for the Hawks. Is that fair? Of course not.

"Football is our only league sport that doesn't have a true champion," Green said. "Really, it's too bad. It's kind of nutty."

Kind of nutty? Sunflower League football is nuttier than delivery day at the pistachio plant.

Still, you have to give the 12 Sunflower League fathers the benefit of the doubt. At least they have sought solutions. For instance, there was talk of playing the first five games as a two-team pool, then matching one against one, two against two, etc., in the sixth week - the last Friday before the three-game Class 6A sub-states begin.

"That was shot down because it had the potential for teams to play as many as three times," Green said. "Otherwise, everybody liked it."

When it comes to Sunflower League football, it's always something. For example, the league has a couple of scheduling criteria. One is for all five Shawnee Mission schools to play each other, for all four Olathe schools to meet and for the two Lawrence schools to battle. That's for revenue purposes. The second item is to have every school play each other within a four-year period. That's the fairness doctrine.

Guess what? No way.

"To do that is mathematically impossible," Green said. "I gave the problem to a math class, and they said it couldn't be done."

And what does Free State coach Bob Lisher, whose team is in contention for the league title for the first time, think of all this mathematical mishmash?

"I can't keep it straight, either," Lisher said. "All I know is if we keep winning someone will tell me if we won the league championship or not."

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