On a day that was supposed to provide answers, Buzz
Wood's first reaction was a question.
"How am I supposed to explain that to my kids?," the
Chichester coach asked Sunday.
Wood had just seen shocking figures. His team went
14-8, 5-5 in the Del Val League, which provided three of
the top 22 seeds in District One Class AAAA.
Yet when the seeding formula spit out its final
verdict, Wood's Eagles weren't in the top 32. They
weren't 33rd. Or 34th.
In District One's problematic algorithm, Chichester
landed 36th. That they beat Penn Wood didn't matter. Nor
did playing No. 9 seed Chester and No. 18 Academy Park
within single-digits. Nor did winning more games than 12
teams in the field. Six of their eight losses came to
playoff teams, plus one at the hands of District 3's
21-win Lampeter-Strasburg. All that was academic.
The Eagles accumulated 70 power points, five per win.
But their strength-of-schedule (44.74) was the lowest in
District One, per numbers released by the seeding
committee. (Those are tentative until Monday at noon.)
Chi's 38.44 bonus points for defeated opponents' wins
was the fewest of any team with double-digit wins.
That doesn't soften the blow of, for instance, seeing
Central Bucks South and its 10-12 record earn the 28th
"They can't believe it," Wood said of his players'
uproar. "I texted all of them. They can't believe it.
Fourteen wins and you don't get in."
Chichester's grievance stems partially from the
nature of the beast. Scheduling is often done months or
years ahead, when coaches have only a foggy sketch of
their team's potential, and offer little flexibility.
Nonleague slates involve the lottery of tournaments,
where changes outside your control can rob a trip of
This season, Chichester lined up what should've been
a respectable spate of teams that struggled
uncharacteristically. Marple Newtown, Haverford,
Unionville, Kennett and Cardinal O'Hara combined for 25
wins. The four District One members of that group
resided in the bottom 12 of the rankings, while Wood
said he was unsuccessful in wooing several Central
League squads to his dance card. Then there was Freire
Charter, which earned one of District 12's bids to the
PIAA Class AA tournament last year but was winless this
Even Oxford, which Chi beat, finished 34th with a
worse record (11-11) in a worse league (the Ches-Mont
American, mostly composed of AAA teams and one rep in
"If you beat the teams that are equal to you, you
should be above them," Wood said. "But it doesn't work
By contrast, Radnor went 11-11, including 6-10 in the
easier of the Central League divisions. But per the
formula, win totals for defeated Roxborough (10),
Palumbo (15) and Masterman (14) in the Philadelphia
Public League's Division D, plus 14-win Class A minnow
Collegium Charter grease the skids.
For a common opponent, Radnor lost, 50-41, to
Haverford, which Chi beat, 68-62.
Adding salt to the wounds, Chichester sat 30th in the
Jan. 31 rankings, figuring a 10-6 record. They were
really 12-7, then went 2-1 to finish the season, the
only loss at Chester.
In the search to banish subjectivity from the
process, elements of common sense have departed, too.
The formulas have made each win and loss equal,
factoring only opponent, not margin or circumstance. In
a small league like the Del Val, with few teams to pad
the collective numerical "strength," the math can churn
out truths unrepresentative of reality. (The 12-times
booster affixed to opponents' winning percentage doesn't
All that is hollow consolation for Wood, especially
when he must explain to seniors Derrick Welles and Jamai
Womack why the careers they hoped would include at least
one more game are over.
"I don't know what to tell the kids tomorrow night,"
he said. "Some of them don't realize what this means
because they're young. But the two seniors, busing their
butts for three years, someone took it away from them
because of what? Power points."