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State High School Football Titles On The Line This Weekend; Playoff Information “By The Numbers”


Seven games remain in South Dakota’s 20-16 high school football season.  Games in Nine-Man Classes go today (Thursday), with two more games Friday, and another two games Saturday.   Here, once again, is playoff football by the numbers.

We’ve reached one of our favorite times of the year—the weekend that offers up 14 teams, playing seven games, with the winners taking the gold trophies home as state champions.  To further your enjoyment of the games as you take them in at the Dome or watch on SDPB-TV-1—let’s find out the things you’d like to know, by the numbers.

What’s up first?

(3)  This playoff series brings three re-matches from the regular season—all of them in the 11-Man classes.  Sioux Falls Washington defeated Brandon Valley in a regular-season contest; Harrisburg won over Mitchell in 11-Double-A—and Tea Area got by Madison late in the year in 11-A.  Two teams that have qualified for Nine-Man title games played in the regular season, but are in different classes.  Warner got a big win over Langford Area,  44-6.

How about—

(438)  Last Saturday’s 9-B semi-final was a career day for Chance Olson of Langford Area.  His Lions made the trip from the Aberdeen area to Buffalo in extreme northwest South Dakota.  All Olson did against Harding County is pick up 438 yards on 30 carries.  That averages 14-point-six yards a carry.  Olson added seven touchdowns, too, as the Lions knocked the Ranchers out of the playoffs for a second straight year.  The Lions play Colome in the 9-B final Thursday night.

Another number, please?

(7.1) That represents the shortest distance in miles between two opponents in the Championship Weekend.  Brandon Valley and Sioux Falls Washington play the final game of the weekend, traveling an hour or so to Vermillion—despite only seven point one miles between the schools.  For the closest towns that don’t play one another, it’s eight miles between Harrisburg and Tea.  The longest distance between teams involved in the weekend is 268 miles, from Colome to Langford.

(51)  There’s no question the Winner Warriors have put together one of their finest teams since Dan Aaker began coaching there.  The Warriors have defeated their opponents by an average margin of 51 points.  Winner’s defense has allowed 22 points.  All season. 

Winner, by the way, is just one town found along highway....

(18)  I’ve posted a photo on-line of three finalists coming to Vermillion from their spots on Highway 18.  Gregory, Colome and Winner are located within 25 miles of one another.  All three will play in different championship games—and none of the teams played each other this season.

(8)  That’s the number of schools in the Championship series who have gold in their color schemes.  Namely—Mitchell, Harrisburg, Tea Area, Winner, Groton Area, Webster Area, Colman-Egan, and Langford Area.   A team with gold in the school colors will have to win in 11-AA, 11-A and 11-B.  But the chances of a team in gold winning in every game one is playing in?  There’s only one way to answer that—and that’s with the help of our good friend and annual contributor—USD statistics professor, Dr. Will Schweinle.  Dr. Schweinle's answer is read by Charles Michael Ray.

If you want to determine the probability that the team wearing gold on their uniform will win in all six of the championship games (in the other two games both teams will have gold in their uniforms, so a gold-wearing team will win. Unless it’s a tie, which is a trickier problem…), then the binomial distribution is the correct method. The binomial is used to determine the probability of r “successes” out of n trials given the probability of a success (p). For instance, if a coin is fair, i.e. the probability of it landing heads-up (p) is 50%, then the binomial distribution can tell you the probability that you would get 9 heads (“successes”) in 10 flips (“trials”).

Thus, and according to the scientific rules of null hypothesis testing, if the winner in all 6 games is wearing gold, we would have to reject the null hypothesis that there is no advantage for wearing gold because the probability of that result, given no advantage, is less than 0.05.

Got all that?  There’s a test next week….

How about one more to wrap up this year?  Let's go with:

(960)  Fans and viewers will have a brand new video display board to look at when they get to the Dakota Dome.  It’s 960 square feet worth of High Definition bliss; standing 17 feet high, and 56 and a half feet long.  (Wow, there aren’t houses that big).  The board behind the goalpost has a resolution of 1128 by 336—with 379 thousand and eight pixels to check the score, yardage information, or someone in the stands doing the Macarena.

There’s your look at the playoffs—by the numbers.  Hope your team wins.  All the games are available on SDPB TV-1—and additional coverage is available at http://sports.sdpb.org.