Mercer's mysterious numbers
Follow sports long enough and you’ll always find some numbers that just don’t make sense. Right now, the Mercer County football team has two of them. I’ll try to explain the second; the first can’t be explained:
7 — That’s where the Titans are ranked in the season’s first edition of the Durden Ratings, which are published in the Advocate each Wednesday.
It’s easy to find fault with any of the several power ratings that circulate around the state, but few numbers jumped off the page like the one that places Mercer among the 10 best teams in Kentucky. Not in its class, but in the entire state.
The Titans are one of two teams in the top 10 — Boyle County is ranked third behind only St. Xavier and John Hardin, and it’s just another four lines down to Mercer, which is listed ahead of powers like Male, Scott County, Lexington Catholic and Covington Catholic. Mercer, which is ranked third in Class 5A by Durden, is even five spots ahead of Madison Central, a team it was unable to score on in its season opener.
There’s no doubt the Titans are vastly better than they were last year, and we knew they would be. But it’s hard to believe they are that good, and those who produce other statewide rankings don’t think they are. Here’s where Mercer ranks in some other polls and power ratings this week:
- Associated Press poll: No. 8 in 5A.
- Bluegrasspreps.com rankings: No. 5 in 5A.
- Dave Cantrall’s Rating the State: No. 8 in 5A, No. 24 overall.
- Litkenhous Ratings: No. 6 in 5A, No. 19 overall.
3-0 — It’s four weeks into the season, and Mercer has already played — and won — all but one of its district games.
The Titans have all but clinched the top seed in Class 5A, District 7, and October is still a week away. Their only remaining district game is Oct. 24 at South Laurel, which is 0-1 in district play.
The primary goal of the regular season is to win your district games, whenever they might be, which means Mercer will essentially have five games to tune up for the playoffs, beginning with this week’s game at Greeneville (Tenn.).
Only three other teams across Kentucky — Conner, Cooper and Paintsville — have played three district games in the first four weeks, and those teams are in six-team districts. (Mercer’s district has five teams.) Meanwhile, 89 teams — most of them in four-team districts — have yet to play their first district game.
Some have wondered why the Titans’ schedule is so top-heavy with district games in the first half of the season. The answer lies within the KHSAA’s district scheduling grid for the 2007 and 2008 seasons, which divides district scheduling guidelines into three areas for the 11-week season: weeks in which district games should be given scheduling priority, weeks in which games should only be played if necessary and weeks in which there are no restrictions.
So even though most teams didn’t schedule district games in the latter category, which includes weeks 1 and 2, there was nothing wrong with doing so. Coaches across the state have spoken of scheduling problems created by the grid and the six-class system implemented last year, and it’s probably safe to say that’s what led Mercer and those other three teams to schedule a district game in week 1 or 2. Mercer’s district games this season fall into weeks 2, 3, 4 and 9. The last three of those weeks were priority weeks; week 2 is an optional week.