Some of you may have seen elsewhere on the high school website the Maxwell ratings for football teams in Georgia, and yes, it can be confusing. But the information compiled has proven to be an amazing bit of information that the AJC high school bloggers rely on to determine key elements of upcoming games.
If anything, the Maxwell ratings make it easier to see statistical advantages certain teams may have over the others.
The ratings are the brain-child of Loren Maxwell, who started looking into the math behind the ranking madness in high school football in the mid-to-late 1980s.
He was a freshman at Clarke Central in 1985, when the Gladiators went undefeated and won the state, 21-7 against Warner Robins. In 1986, Clarke Central was ranked third and went undefeated until the 28-0 state-title loss to Valdosta. Clarke Central was considered an underdog going into that game and Maxwell could not understand why. And that led to an unusual hobby -- looking at the numbers game behind a football season.
"Essentially, I always had the sense of injustice that Clarke Central had won the state championship the year before," said Maxwell. "We were undefeated with a 29-game win streak, yet we were entering in this game against Valdosta as an underdog. Back during those days, the Atlanta paper, on Sundays, would print all the scores and schedules for all of the teams. So I just got into trying to figure out some math behind it. My goal at the time was to prove that Clarke Central was the better team. I could never work it out, math-wise, and sure enough we got on the field and they beat us 28-0, so the polls were valid for Valdosta. But I kept at it, and always had an interest in it. As I got older, and a little more knowledgeable at math and everything, the models became a lot more sophisticated than what I used back then."
He has been going at it since. Maxwell uses a number of variables to make projections on high school football for ajc.com. You can go here -- http://highschoolsports.blog.ajc.com/2016/10/12/the-math-behind-region-races-and-playoff-seeding/ -- to see his explanation.
Maxwell also took the time on Monday to break down the Class AAA playoff bracket, which also can be found on this site. Here's his breakdown by quardrant:
Upper left quadrant
From Maxwell: It looks like in here, Westminster and Peach County have an almost equal chance to make it to the semifinals. Wesminster has a little bit of an edge. I guess that is no big surprise because they're both No. 1 seeds. I might say Cook probably is the strongest of the seeds below them, a No. 3 seed at 5-5. I wouldn't say it would be a huge challenge for Westminster, as the Wildcats are a 22-point favorite, but I would say that is probably Westminster's only challenge until they get to the semifinals against Peach County, which would be my guess. If you want some numbers, I would say Westminster had a 90-percent chance and Peach has a 95-percent chance of making it to the semifinals with maybe a slight nod toward Westminster, if they meet there. There is about a 22-percent chance that the champion will come out of this quadrant.
Bottom left quadrant
From Maxwell: So here, obviously Greater Atlanta Christian is the big one. Overall, I show GAC has almost a 50-percent chance of winning it all. So this quadrant overall will have a 50-percent chance to produce the champion. Liberty County is there a little bit, but GAC stands so much above everyone else. There is about a 60-percent chance that Liberty County and GAC will meet in the quarterfinals.
Upper right quadrant
From Maxwell: Crisp is the one that stands out. They will have a 60-percent chance of making it into the finals. They will be in the semifinals about two-thirds of the time from their position. They should win that smaller quadrant. If they don't win it, the only competition they have in there is Lovett. On the top portion of the quadrant, it looks like Pierce County will probably edge Westside-Macon. So whoever wins that game (Pierce/Westside-Macon) will probably win the next one against Morgan County. I'll give you this number also -- there is about 12-percent chance that champion will come out of this bracket.
Bottom right quadrant
From Maxwell: Down there, I show Cedar Grove and Calhoun are pretty much going to dominate that bracket. And then out of that, Calhoun will have a pretty good edge over Cedar Grove.