STROHECKER: It's time to start paying attention to District 3 football ratings
For the first five weeks of the high school football season, the goal for teams is pretty simple — get off to fast starts and set themselves up for a potential run at a York-Adams League division title.
After the fifth week, however, something new comes into play, changing the entire outlook for teams.
For the programs that got off to those good starts, their first goal is still to win a division crown. For others, however, they start paying more attention to the constantly updated District 3 power ratings, which ultimately determine a team's postseason fate.
It's the high school version of the weekly playoff ratings that come out midway through the college season. Depending on what class you compete in — A, AA, AAA or AAAA — being inside the top four, eight or 16 can make or break your week. Being on the outside looking in can force you to press, knowing that every game holds that much more meaning.
After the first ratings were published following Week 5, just more than one-third of the Y-A teams held district playoff spots. Seven of the 23 teams were on the right side of the line. After Week 6, however, you can subtract one from that total.
Most recent results: After this past weekend's games, there are now only six Y-A teams that would currently make the playoffs if they began today.
In Class A, York Catholic holds the last spot in the four-team playoff with a 2-4 record. However, the team right above the Irish, Steel-High is 1-5, but is currently ranked higher because of a tougher schedule. A few more wins for York Catholic could help it avoid top-seeded Camp Hill in the semifinals.
Hanover is the only Y-A team currently making the cut in the eight-team AA field, with the Nighthawks at No. 2.
Northeastern is sitting at No. 7 in the 16-team AAA bracket, while Dover cracked the top 16 for the first time and is at No. 13. The Bobcats dropped four spots from No. 3 after losing their first game of the season, 15-12, to Dallastown this past weekend.
The Wildcats and South Western are currently in the 16-team AAAA tournament. Dallastown and the Mustangs are neck and neck, with the Wildcats sitting at No. 7, while South Western is right behind at No. 8.
Close calls: There was some movement from Week 5 to Week 6, and not so much for the better for Y-A schools.
Delone Catholic, which was No. 4 after Week 5, is currently the second team out of the Class A tournament as the No. 6 seed, leapfrogged by York Catholic. In AA, despite winning its fourth consecutive game, Biglerville went from occupying the last spot in the playoffs at No. 8, to now being the first team out at No. 9. Littlestown and Bermudian Springs are the two lowest-rated teams in AA, at No. 13 and No. 14, respectively.
In AAA, York Suburban and Spring Grove both made subtle moves closer to a playoff spot. The Trojans jumped from No. 20 to No. 17 with their fourth win of the year and Spring Grove is now at No. 18 at 3-3.
Lastly, in AAAA, Red Lion slid out of a playoff berth with its second straight loss. The Lions fell from No. 13 to No. 17, now the first team out of the field of 16. Despite a losing record, Central York is still in contention at No. 20, courtesy of a strong schedule.
Comparison: It's hardly a secret that Y-A teams have historically struggled in the District 3 playoffs at the big-school classes. The local AAA and AAAA teams rarely make it past the second round. Still, this year may really be a down year for the league.
Last season, eight area teams qualified for the District 3 playoffs. The Irish and Squires represented half of the Class A field; Bermudian Springs and Biglerville made up a quarter of the AA field; West York, Gettysburg and Eastern York all made the AAA bracket; and Dallastown and Red Lion represented the league in the AAAA tournament.
One year later, only two of those teams would make the playoffs this year, York Catholic and the Wildcats. There is still an outside chance that Delone and York Catholic both qualify in Class A, but both will likely need to finish around .500 or 4-6 to knock out the Rollers of Steel-High.
The fact that the Eagles and Thunderbolts are so down this season takes away from the Y-A representation in AA, considering those two teams are the traditional AA powers in the Y-A League. The larger classes are a crap shoot right now, with a couple teams still hovering around the cut line. So it's possible that in a couple weeks, we could be looking at eight or nine teams in the playoffs, or only five or six.
The District 3 power ratings only add another wrinkle of intrigue to this 2015 high school football season. They rarely make the lives of the teams hovering around the cut line easy as we approach the home stretch.
That means, for most teams, there's still a lot of work to be done in the coming weeks, especially for the Y-A League teams.
— Reach Patrick Strohecker at email@example.com; follow on Twitter @P_Strohecker