Fox Creek football coach Russ Schneider kept receiving texts from curious players.
But instead of qualifying for the state playoffs, the 6-4 Predators are finished. The points system kept them out of the Class A, Division I bracket.
The last team in, Upper State No. 8 Southside Christian, went just 3-7. But it went 1-2 in a four-team region to place third and earn eight points. Fox Creek went 3-3 in its region to come in fourth out of seven and received only five points.
Though single-game results against a winning or losing opponent add points, the region finish proved to be the difference.
Also, because the playoffs are split into two divisions based on school size, Ridge Spring-Monetta and Blackville-Hilda made it to the Division II playoffs even though they lost to the Predators and finished behind them in the region.
“We’re not going to point fingers and blame people," Schneider said. "We’re going to make it the most positive we can — we had a winning season.”
Schneider said the responsibility for missing the playoffs falls on him, adding his team knew the system before the season began. He said if Fox Creek won another game, this simply wouldn’t have happened.
But what bothered Schneider the most was the lack of closure. Normally, a team will know ahead of time which game could be their last. The playoff surprise meant Schneider didn’t get to take aside the seniors in the end zone and have one final “thank you” chat after a game.
“It’s a chance for me to thank them for everything they’ve done for the program,” Schneider said. “I hate missing that opportunity as much as the playoffs.”