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High School Sports Blog

The latest news and analysis on high-school sports around the Seattle area

September 25, 2007 at 4:40 PM

A different take

Each week for the football season, we bring you the Seattle Times and AP rankings, but today, I wanted to give you a slightly different take, one that includes absolutely no human input.

At Maxpreps.com, they’ve developed a system they use to rank all of the approximately 15,000 high schools playing football in the United States. They use the same system to rank the top teams in Washington, which you can find here (registration is free). Yet not a single human opinion factors into the rankings, like the Sagarin ratings used in college athletics.

As Maxpreps’ Web site says,:

The most important thing to understand about how the ratings system works is that it is 100 percent objective.

The size of the schools, their division, the league they’re in, how good the school or league are historically, their geographic location, how well liked the school is, how good the league is in other sports do not matter and therefore, none of these factors is programmed into the system. Those subjective factors inevitably bias humans saddled with the daunting task of trying to figure out the best teams in the nation, region or state.

The most important factors are quality wins and strength of schedule. This is the top 10 for Washington:

Rank Team Rating Strength Record
1 Skyline (3A) 52 28.6 4-0
2 Kamiakin (3A) 48.4 22.4 4-0
3 Bothell (4A) 46.6 15.4 4-0
4 Bellevue (3A) 44.1 31.3 3-1
5 Tumwater (2A) 43.5 20.8 4-0
6 Lakes (3A) 42.9 16.5 4-0
7 Ferris (4A) 42.4 10.8 4-0
8 Edmonds-Woodway (4A) 41.7 15.1 4-0
9 Ferndale (3A) 41 16.9 4-0
10 Evergreen (3A) 40.7 0.3 4-0

What’s notable to me is not that some schools — such as Lakes, Ferris, O’Dea (16th), Oak Harbor (13th) and Puyallup (24th) — are lower than you might expect, but just how closely this list, compiled with no human input, resembles the human polls. Is Skyline at the top of any of the polls? No, but certainily no one’s ruling out that the Sammamish team could be the best team in 3A or the state. Bothell and Kamiakin have both been recognized as elite teams. And perhaps this list serves as a reminder of just how difficult Bellevue’s schedule has been to date.

I’d expect, as the season goes on, this list to get even closer to the rankings you see in The Seattle Times and from The Associated Press. Playoff games count 2.1 times more than regular-season games, so that’s when this list should really get interesting. I’ll keep you updated.

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