Rhodes: Losses, not tie-break, cost Bulldogs playoff berth
     2012-10-25      By Terry Gaston   
Photo by Ken Kurtz/Spectrum Photo Gering senior Walker Britsch (No. 17) holds the football while junior Bulldog Gage Smith (No. 3) prepares to kick during Friday’s season closing game. The Bulldogs suffered devastating injuries this season, yet came close to making the playoffs. 
Even after the Gering Bulldogs lost their first two District B-8 football games, second-year coach Jimmie Rhodes said he knew the Bulldogs still had a chance to qualify for the Class B playoffs for a second straight year.

The only problem, Rhodes said, is that Gering had to have five results to happen in the Bulldogs favor for them to earn the 16th and final available playoff bracket berth.

First was that the Bulldogs needed to finish the regular season with a victory over Alliance. Gering did so by scoring a 14-7 victory Friday night on a night when Senior Night and homecoming festivities could have distracted the Bulldogs.

“They are a very explosive team, and it is exciting to be the spoiler to their playoff chances,” Rhodes said of defeating an Alliance team that rolled up 487 offensive yards the week before in a 49-33 home loss to Scottsbluff. “It was a busy night, we had to play Alliance, then it was Senior Night and homecoming, and us beating them was really exciting.”

But Gering still needed help – and the fact that the Bulldogs needed such outside assistance was what left Rhodes sullen Saturday, several hours after the final Class B power points were tabulated and thus the playoff bracket was set.

Gering, by virtue of its victory over Alliance, brought the Bulldogs up three spots in the power rankings and Alliance down three positions. Both Bulldog teams finished with 5-4 records and 39.1111 power points.

So too did York.

Gering eliminated Alliance with its Friday night victory. Since neither team had played the Dukes of York, the second criterion in the Nebraska School Activities Association’s tie-break rules came into play: strength of schedule.

Rhodes said four other results had to fall the Bulldogs’ way for Gering to gain the playoff berth over York. Without expanding on what they were, the first three results required did.

“Coach Clark was keeping an eye on scores through the radio and Internet, and so he knew that three of the four teams that we needed to win had already won,” said Rhodes, adding that Clark did not pass that information onto him on the sideline until the Bulldogs’ victory was over.

Chadron, which had lost its first two games this season to Alliance and Gering, then had to maintain its first-tier status – of having a final record of 5-3, in the Cardinals’ case – to keep Gering’s strength of schedule higher than York’s.

Chadron went into overtime at home against Valentine but lost, 20-14.
Another direct factor was when Grand Island Northwest – which defeated Gering 40-23 on Sept. 21 – lost to York. That loss for Northwest dropped the Vikings’ record to 6-3 – giving them the No. 11 seed in the Class B playoffs – but pulled their power rating into the second division and affected Gering’s power points in the process.

Bottom line, Gering’s strength of schedule fell behind York’s, and the Dukes earned the playoff spot – which earns them a trip to Bearcat Stadium to play undefeated and No. 1 seeded Scottsbluff on Friday night.

“When you have to rely on other people, your season ends,” Rhodes said. “During the year, you control your own destiny.”

To end the season in a winning fashion will be a solid factor in building the 2013 Bulldogs, Rhodes said.

And to see area teams succeed in the playoffs will be good to see, he added.

“I won’t root against the teams in our area, especially the kids in the valley,” Rhodes said. “I know several kids from Scottsbluff and hope they play well, and I will root for Ogallala and Chadron.”

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