By David Fong
MIAMI COUNTY — There was a time, in the not too distant past, in which just about every high school football program in Ohio had a “Harbin Guy.”
The Harbin Guy was usually well-versed in both mathematics and high school football and was able to calculate the Ohio Harbin computer points standings, the formula that decides which eight teams in each of the state’s 28 regions qualify for the postseason every year. The Harbin Guy — and, in fairness, it didn’t always have to be a guy, as it was not necessarily a fraternal title — was responsible for figuring out exactly what had to happen for his respective program to make the playoffs, then passing that information along to the head coach.
These days, a pair of websites, joeeitel.com and fantastic50.net, has rendered the “Harbin Guy” largely obsolete. Those two websites not only calculate the computer points for every team within the state, but also offer the probability of each team making the playoffs. Within an hour after their game is finished, most coaches already have scoured those two websites and know exactly where their team stands in terms of the playoff picture.
With just three weeks remaining in the high school football regular season, here’s a look at where all 10 area teams are in the race for the playoffs, with an assist from the two aforementioned websites:
There are no local Division I high school football teams.
If the Trojans can take care of business in their final three games — at home this week against Sidney, then on the road against Greenville and Piqua to close the season — they should be sitting pretty and headed to the playoffs for the third year in a row, something that has not happened since 1995-97.
According to fantastic50.net, if Troy wins one of its final three games, it has a 91-percent chance of making the playoffs, but likely will not host a playoff game. The top four teams in each region host a first-round playoff game. Should Troy win two of its final three, it would 100 percent be in the playoffs and have a 90-percent chance of hosting a game. If Troy finishes 9-1, it will be guaranteed a spot in the playoffs and one home game.
The Red Devils’ playoff chances took a huge hit with back-t0-back losses to Troy and Sidney. Tippecanoe would still need plenty of help even if it does win its final three games of the season. Should the Red Devils finish 6-4, they would have a 42-percent chance of making the playoffs. Losing even one more game would essentially eliminate Tippecanoe from playoff contention.
With three games remaining, Piqua likely will need at least two wins to reach the postseason. With two wins — the Indians close the regular season at Butler, then with home games against Tippecanoe and Troy — Piqua has a 94-percent chance of making the playoffs. With three wins, it would appear the Indians are guaranteed their first playoff game since 2015.
There are no local Division IV high school football teams.
Miami East (5-2)
Miami East likely will need to win its final three games to make the playoffs for the seventh year in a row. According to fantastic50.net, if the Vikings can finish 8-2, they’ll have a 97-percent chance of making the playoffs. That figure drops all the way to 31 percent if they lose one game and then down to 3 percent if they lose two of their final three games.
The Bulldogs are considered a longshot to make the playoffs under any scenario, but have yet to be mathematically eliminated from playoff contention. Finishing the season 7-3 gives Milton a 13-percent chance of making the playoffs.
Troy Christian (6-1)
Troy Christian seemingly faces an all-or-nothing scenario. If the Eagles finish 9-1 — which would include a win against unbeaten Lima Central Catholic in Week 9 — they are in the playoffs. Should they lose just one of their final three games, however, they have just a 17-percent chance of making the playoffs and could potentially be one of the few 8-2 teams in the state sitting at home during the postseason.
That’s one of the hazards of playing in a stacked Region 24, in which four of the teams are ranked in the top five of the latest Division VI state poll.
The Buccaneers — whose playoff chances seemed dead in the water after an 0-3 start to the season — have climbed back into the playoff picture with back-to-back wins against Miami East and Bethel. Still, though, Covington needs to finish with three wins just to have a 73-percent chance of making the playoffs. One loss in the final three games pretty much eliminates the Buccaneers.
After making the playoffs last year, the Bees likely won’t be headed to the playoffs this season. If Bethel can finish with three wins, it would have just a 24-percent chance of making the playoffs. One more loss in the final three games would pretty much eliminate the Bees.
After opening the season 0-2, the Cavaliers appeared to be cruising toward a playoff berth with four wins in a row. That path took a detour last week with an upset loss to Waynesfield-Goshen, however. Still, though, should Lehman win its final three games, it would appear to be headed to the playoffs. That number drops to 88 percent with one loss and 12 percent with two losses.
Bradford will not be headed to the playoffs this season.
Contact David Fong at firstname.lastname@example.org; follow him on Twitter @thefong