Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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August 22, 2012

Giles’ Williams misses regional format

PEARISBURG, Va. — The Giles Spartans advanced to the Division 2 state playoffs last season, one year after missing out on the postseason.

Giles head coach Jeff Williams was glad for a return to the playoffs, but isn’t a big fan of the new postseason system that doesn’t allow for regional champions any longer.

“I miss the regional play aspect of it and being able to play for a region championship,” Williams said. “I am very disappointed that we don’t have that anymore, I just don’t like that part of it.”

Sixteen teams in Group A, Division 1 and 2 make the playoffs now, which allows for some teams with mediocre records to reach the postseason. For instance, Pulaski County was a playoff participant in Group AA last year, lost in the opening round and finished with a 1-10 record.

That system was used for the time last season, but Giles — which won the Three Rivers District and finished at 10-2 — was no danger of missing it in 2011. The previous season only four teams made it from Region C, and the Spartans weren’t one of them.

“Any time you don’t make the playoffs, that is disappointing,” Williams said. “It is disappointing now because it is watered down so much. When we didn’t make the playoffs they didn’t have this system, they still had the four teams that made it which is tough and that is what I like. Now it is more watered down where so many teams go.”

There was a time when the Virginia playoffs included four teams qualifying for regional play, with three games played to determine a regional champion.  Two wins later and teams were state champions.

Giles won three state titles with that system, but Williams also takes pride in winning regional crowns, something the Spartans have done often in the past.

“Not everybody is going to win a state championship and only a handful of teams are going to win state championships every year,” Williams said. “You can win a district championship and then you can go on and win two more games and win a region championship.

“That is something that I think the kids got motivated for and they would say ‘Hey, we are playing for region championship tonight and then if we win, we get the opportunity to go to the state semis’. That is what I miss about the whole part of that.”

Now a .500 record is usually good enough to get a postseason berth. No wonder Williams yearns for the old days at times.

“We don’t usually try to set our goal to make the playoff, we try to keep our goals realistic and my number one goal every year is to win more than we lose and then anything better than that we’ll take,” Williams said. “Now if you can do that you will pretty much get in the playoffs.”

—Contact Brian Woodson

at bwoodson@bdtonline.com

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