Call it the perfectly fine imperfect solution.
The Class 4A Greater St. Helens League three-team football tiebreaker on Monday is not perfect.
Then again, that is by design.
One team does have an advantage, based on a random draw. But all three teams will still have to earn a playoff spot on the field. The draw might help one team, but that one team still must win on the field.
To those who do not know how we got here, here is the recap:
Battle Ground, Mountain View and Skyview tied for second in the 4A GSHL. Camas won the league title and earned the No. 1 seed from the league to the state qualifying round playoffs.
The league only has two more berths, with three teams tied.
Also, all three of those teams lost to Camas. And the other losses were to each other — Skyview beat Battle Ground, Battle Ground beat Mountain View, and Mountain View beat Skyview.
Fortunately, the teams will determine this on the field. No one has time for a full game (or two or three) to figure it out, so the teams will use the system now in place for overtime games in high school football: Each team has a chance to score on drives starting at the opponent’s 25-yard line. The Kansas Plan.
Still, administrators had to figure out how to do this with three teams.
A “perfect” plan would be a round-robin style. Everyone play each other. If one team goes 2-0 and another goes 1-1, that would be perfect, right? Yeah, but … what if they all go 1-1 (just like these teams did in the regular season) against each other? Then they would have to do it again. And maybe again. Remember, Monday’s survivors have to play a playoff game in Week 10. These teams don’t need to be on the field for five hours, going into Tuesday morning. So that “perfect” plan really is not perfect.
Athletic directors instead came up with a plan for at least two matchups but a maximum of three.
And here is how they did that:
Through a random draw, Mountain View earned a bye, leaving Skyview and Battle Ground in the first overtime session.
The winner of the first game will play Mountain View. If the winner of the first game beats Mountain View, that team gets the No. 2 seed, and Mountain View will face the loser of the first game for the No. 3 seed. Simple, right? In this scenario, Mountain View and the loser of the first game are both 0-1.
However, if Mountain View beats the winner of the first game, it’s all over. Mountain View gets the No. 2 seed, and the winner of the first game gets the No. 3 seed. Why? Because the winner of the first game would not be asked to defeat the same team twice in one night.
So, yes, there is an advantage to getting the bye. That team has two chances to win one contest. The loser of the first game, though, might not get another opportunity.
Of course, these teams could have avoided all of this with just one more win in league play.
And even if Mountain View has a benefit after the draw, the Thunder still have to prove it on the field.
Years ago, I covered a team in southern Oregon that was in the same situation. That year, the league’s standard operating procedure was simply to draw for seeds 2 and 3 out of a hat.
The GSHL administrators got this one right.
Perfect? No such thing in a three-way football tiebreaker.
Still, the athletes cannot be asked to play for too long, then be expected to compete later in the week in a full game.
But at least the teams will decide who goes to the playoffs — on the field.
Paul Valencia covers high school sports for The Columbian. Contact him at 360-735-4557, email@example.com or @360PaulV on Twitter.
If you go
■ What: Class 4A GSHL tiebreaker
■ Where: At Doc Harris Stadium in Camas
■ When: 6 p.m. Monday
■ Teams: Battle Ground, Mountain View, and Skyview
■ At stake: To determine final two berths from 4A GSHL to state qualifying round playoffs
■ Cost: $6 for adults; $4 for students without ASB cards. Free for students with ASB cards, senior citizens, and pre-school children.