The Southwest 2B League’s formation has worked as well as anybody expected in its first two years as a 19-team mega-league that includes 19 of the 24 Class 2B teams in the western half of the state.
But the league has flubbed the biggest part of the season.
Kalama football will face Adna on Friday at Chinook Stadium. So in the first-round matchup, we have the state’s No. 1 and No. 4-ranked teams.
The problem is the Chinooks weren’t ever supposed to face Adna. When the league was formed two years ago, the athletic directors established a rotation for what seed each of the district playoff games were for.
For example, the River No. 1 vs. the Mountain No. 4 would be the No. 1 seed out of the district in 2017, but the same game would decide the No. 3 seed in 2018.
Only the league didn’t stick to the script ADs created. Two years in a row Kalama’s first-round state game has been “flexed.” No not to make sure the best teams are in the spotlight like the NFL does, but to avoid the inevitably that two teams from the same division face off in the first round.
Last year, Kalama was slated to face Toledo in the first round, and instead the game was flexed to No. 1-ranked Napavine. The Chinooks lost 41-6.
This year, Kalama was again supposed to play Toledo, and Napavine was to face Adna. But because of the fine print that two division teams can’t play each other, the nearly unanimous No. 1-ranked Chinooks wind up with the toughest first-round matchup of any Class 2B host squad.
But wait, there’s more!
Napavine’s first-round opponent is the Rainier Mountaineers. Yes, those Mountaineers that are in the same Mountain Division as the Tigers.
I thought division teams couldn’t play each other in the first round?
Because here’s part two of why this “flexing” thing doesn’t work: the games are flexed before district crossovers are played!
On the assumption that the No. 2s will beat the No. 3s, the first-round state games are decided. So we end up with division opponents facing off in the first round anyhow.
Why have a rotating slate at all if we’re just going to make changes every postseason?
Word is that eventually RPI will work its way into state football, but until that day comes, and as long as we’re changing matchups, let’s do it in a way that makes sense.
Everyone that’s seen a lick of SW2BL football this season knows the top four teams are Kalama, Napavine, Adna and Pe Ell/Willapa Valley, in that order. Then there’s Rainier and Toledo.
So instead of seeing Adna or Kalama’s season end prematurely, we’d have the following first-round contests:
Friday Harbor at Adna; Toledo at Kalama; Pe Ell/Willapa Valley at Napavine; Rainier at Concrete.
Now, that’s not perfect because there’s an argument to be made against District 1’s teams getting the seeding they do, but there’s always been plenty of flaws in WIAA’s state tournament seeding.
Let’s not exacerbate the problem, SW2BL. This one’s in your hands.