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Derek Taylor: Ravenswood robbed of playoff right to choose

By | Gazette-Mail High School Huddle
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PARKERSBURG, W.Va. - One of the most common criticisms of the Secondary School Activities Commission is a perceived lack of teeth in the bylaws of the organization.

Rules, guidelines and policies are abundant. An ability to make member schools and programs adhere to them, not so much.

In truth, much of the negative perception of the governing body headed by Executive Director Gary Ray is unreasonable. Ray does not possess unchecked authority as does NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, and the SSAC is certainly not the National Football League. It's not even as powerful as the perpetual train wreck known as the NCAA.

Ray - for the most part - enforces rules as high school principals want him to, and a lion's share of the time he does a good job as executor of their wishes.

At Sunday's football playoff meetings at the SSAC offices however, Ray acknowledged there is room for improvement within the playoff structure in West Virginia as well as within the football regular season.

Ray tempered his reform movement by noting the need for reason within any changes that might arise from conversation within the football coaches committee, a subcommittee within the SSAC hierarchy from where most changes originate.

"We're not going to go like colleges and have people naked and things like that," he said. "We still want people to keep their clothes on, but if there are ways to make games more exciting and more fun for the fans and the kids we need to look at doing that."

A way to improve reared its head during the Class AA meeting, the second of three two-hour get-togethers of coaches, school administrators and media members Sunday morning.

In the preliminary rounds of the playoffs, the higher-seeded team selects where it wants to host a game. The lower-seeded team selects the date and time between three windows: Friday at 7:30 p.m. or Saturday at 1:30 or 7:30 p.m.

No. 3 seed Bluefield (8-2) chose its home field, Mitchell Stadium, as its preferred site to play No. 14 seed Ravenswood (7-3). One of the state's classic venues, Mitchell more than meets the requirements set by the SSAC to be a host site.

Ravenswood Coach Mick Price then chose to kick off the first-round game at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday.

This poses a problem, the Bluefield contingent that did not include Beavers Coach Fred Simon told Ray. As it turns out, Bluefield (Va.) College is playing a home game at Mitchell Stadium at 1 p.m. Saturday.


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