By Richard Polen
Globe Sports Writer
Missouri district football playoff races are beginning to take shape with three games remaining in the regular season.
Webb City in Class 4, Cassville in Class 3 and Miller in Class 1 lead their respective districts in large part because of their unbeaten records, according to standings compiled by the Missouri State High School Activities Association. The story line is different in Class 2.
Joplin (4-2) is fifth in Class 6, District 4. Blue Springs and Raymore-Peculiar, both 5-1, occupy the top two spots. Joplin is in a tight race in a district that includes Blue Springs South (4-2) and Rockhurst (4-2).
Under the new playoff system implemented this year by MSHSAA, regular-season games are used to determine the seedings for the beginning of district competition in week 10. In eight-team districts, the No. 1-seeded team will play the No. 8 team, the No. 2 team will play the No. 7 team, and so on.
The slimmest margin separating the top two teams among districts in Southwest Missouri is in Class 2, where Lamar, 4-2, holds a narrow lead over unbeaten Sarcoxie in District 4.
Lamar leads Sarcoxie because of a variety of factors involved in the point system approved by MSHSAA.
First, each team is awarded 20 points for a victory, 10 points for a loss or 15 points for an overtime loss. Add the total points and divide by the number of games played.
Second, teams are awarded a credit of 10 points for playing an opponent in the next-largest class size, or 20 points for playing up two class sizes. This is where Lamar has an edge over Sarcoxie.
Lamar, a member of the Big 8 Conference, plays six opponents who are in Class 3. One opponent — Carl Junction, who Lamar defeated 47-13 last Friday — is in Class 4.
Sarcoxie, on the other hand, plays in the Spring River Valley Conference along with six Class 1 schools. Diamond is the only other Class 2 school in the SRVC.
Although Sarcoxie is not penalized for playing smaller schools, Lamar receives bonus points for playing seven larger-class opponents.
Next, points are awarded for strength of schedule based on the won-lost records of a team’s opponents. Each victory is worth 20 points and each loss is worth 10 points, and the total is divided by the number of games.
Finally, add the point differential of each game, up to plus or minus 13 points, and divide by the number of games played.
The formula gives Lamar an edge with 49.67 points, compared with 47.66 for Sarcoxie. Lamar’s remaining opponents are Monett (4-2) at home, at East Newton (0-6) and Aurora (3-3) at home.
Sarcoxie plays at Liberal (0-6) this week, followed by home games against El Dorado Springs (1-5) and unbeaten Miller.
While all games count toward the district seedings, other key matchups Friday include Lebanon (5-1) at Joplin, Lockwood (3-3) at McAuley Catholic (3-3), Seneca (3-3) at Carl Junction (2-4), Aurora (3-3) at Mount Vernon (4-2) and Greenfield (3-3) at Diamond (3-3).
Lebanon is leading its Class 5 district that includes Ozark Conference rivals Camdenton, Waynesville and Rolla.