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Hounds slip in power rankings despite big win over Vernonia

Gaston rolls to a 32-6 homecoming win but still sees its playoff stock drop in the OSAA rankings
by: Chase Allgood Gaston running back Kevin Reynolds (15) explodes for a 70-yard touchdown during Friday’s game against Vernonia.

Gaston picked up another impressive win on Friday, throttling Vernonia 32-6 on homecoming weekend, and yet the undefeated Greyhounds continued to sink in the OSAA Class 2A Power Rankings.

Gaston (6-0, 2-0), the Northwest League leader and one of just five undefeated teams left in the state, dropped to No. 14 in the 2A rankings after Friday's win. The Hounds currently rank below Knappa, Regis and Pilot Rock - three teams they beat this season by a combined score of 101-40.

So what gives?

'In the 2A system, if you want to be ranked in the Top 10 you have to play and lose to the best teams in the state; you don't have to win,' said Gaston football coach Reeve Woodward.

'The way the system is set up, there's twice as much weight given to opponents' winning percentage than your own winning percentage, so we're helping (their ranking) because we're doing well, but they're not helping (our ranking) because they don't win a lot of games. Win or lose, we keep moving down.'

A perfect example would be the case of Pilot Rock, a team that is 1-4 this year but currently ranks one spot ahead of Gaston in the power rankings. The Rockets' only win came against Irrigon, a team that is 1-5, but their four losses have come against opponents - including Gaston - with a combined 22-1 record.

The extra weight given to opponents' winning percentage has boosted Pilot Rock's RPI rating ahead of Gaston despite the fact that the Greyhounds beat the Rockets 61-20 when the two teams met earlier this season. Likewise for Knappa, Oakridge and Kennedy, other teams that have three or more losses but remain ahead of Gaston in the RPI.

'It gets pretty frustrating,' Woodward said. 'It's to the point now where it's terrible for us. No matter what we do, our ranking keeps going down.

'Portland Christian is one spot behind us and no matter what happens (in this Friday's game) they will probably overtake us. We can't catch Knappa even if we win out.'

In Class 2A, 16 teams qualify for the state playoffs based on their league finish, and those teams are placed on the bracket according to their power ranking. That could create a scenario in which an undefeated Gaston team would be forced to travel in the first round to face another unbeaten league champion.

'I'm not saying we'll win out, but if we did it could be a 9-0 team traveling to play another 9-0 team in the playoffs,' Woodward said. 'That wouldn't be fair to us, but it also wouldn't be fair to the team we're playing. The whole point of getting a higher seed is so you get an easier game.'

While he may be frustrated with the current power ranking format, Woodward conceded that all his team can do is go out and keep winning football games, and the Grey-hounds certainly did that on Friday against Vernonia.

Gaston scored three touchdowns in the first quarter to take a 24-0 lead, starting with Kevin Reynolds' 70-yard scoring run on the second play of the game. David Carr added a pair of touchdown passes to Dusty Brown and the Hounds never looked back.

Reynolds had a monster game, rushing for 278 yards and two touchdowns, including a 15-yarder in the second half to give Gaston its final 32-6 margin of victory.

Carr completed four passes - all to Brown - for 110 yards and two touchdowns, and Sam Wismer added 110 yards rushing for Gaston.

The Hounds will travel to Portland Christian this Friday before visiting Neah-Kah-Nie next week.

'Every team left on the schedule can knock us off,' Woodward said, 'but these next two weeks are big ones.'