I’ve you’ve been following this website throughout the football season then you’ll know that I’ve not had Poly Prep ranked No. 1 at the top of my weekly power rankings at all this year. If you follow closely enough, you’ll also know that Poly’s talented defensive tackle and Notre Dame commit Jay Hayes thinks I’m wrong.
“Strength of schedule,” Hayes has told me more than once.
I’ve been thinking about it since and I wanted to take a look and compare the two schedules to decide which team actually had the tougher schedule. I finally got around to doing it today.
First let me say, Lincoln and Poly Prep are easily two of the best three teams in Brooklyn. Along with Erasmus Hall, they leave everyone else in the dust (which is impressive as Brooklyn has a few talented teams). Both have huge lines that offer their offense protection and give other teams fits and both have a number of weapons at their disposal. The best way to settle this argument would be to have the two teams face each other, but that isn’t going to happen.
To start, let’s take a look at their regular season schedules:
(Editor’s note: Poly Prep played Niagara Academy which is Canadian and makes it hard to compare it to other American schools so for some portions of this comparison I was forced to leave it out. I feel like the results are affected, but it does not compromise what I’m trying to do here, which is just a fun comparison anyway. I also left out Poly’s loss to Friendship Collegiate in many comparisons for obvious reasons).
Poly Prep (8-1)
Aug. 31 vs Fort Hamilton (Won 35-6)
Sept. 7 42-0 vs Xaverian (Won 42-0)
Sept. 13 @ Peddie (Won 37-15)
Sept. 21 @ Niagara Academy (Won 53-26)
Sept. 28 vs Hun School (Won 35-12)
Oct. 4 vs Salesianum (Won 28-20)
Oct. 12 @ Worcester Academy (Won 21-7)
Oct. 18 @ Valley Forge Military Academy (Won 45-0)
Oct. 26 @ Friendship Collegiate Academy (Lost 27-7)
Lincoln High (9-0)
Sept. 7 Curtis (Won 42-6)
Sept. 14 Sheepshead Bay (Won 44-8)
Sept. 20 Tottenville (Won 26-7)
Sept. 27 New Utrecht (Won 26-6)
Oct. 6 Campus Magnet (Won 44-0)
Oct. 11 Midwood (Won 36-12)
Oct. 18 Erasmus Hall (Won 38-23)
Oct. 26 Fort Hamilton (Won 27-12)
Nov. 3 Boys High (Won 41-6)
The first obvious difference is that Lincoln finished its season with a perfect record while Poly has that one blemish on its record. But, if the schedules are truly different that might not matter.
The next thing I want to look at is how dominant the teams were overall. I do that by looking at their averages scores during games. Lincoln has a slight edge here as it beat its opponents by an average score of 36-9 while Poly beat its opponents 34-13 on average. That’s a 27 point differential for Lincoln and 21 points for Poly, but if the schedules are off in their difficulty this shouldn’t matter so we move on.
Next I looked at their opponent’s records. Again, Lincoln has the advantage here as their opponents, on average, have had better records. Lincoln’s opponents have an overall record of 48-33, which is a 59.3 winning percentage, while Poly’s opponents have a 30-39 record which is a 43.5 winning percentage. The two teams faced much different opponents though so this shouldn’t matter too much and we’re moving on again.
Here is where things start to take on more significance. I went through USA Today’s website, which ranks all of the high school football programs in the nation and used that data for comparisons. It’s not perfect, but it’s rankings, relative to just Brooklyn schools were similar to mine so I felt comfortable with it.
Anyway, Lincoln has the advantage here too. The Railsplitters opponents were ranked, on average, 5,824th in the nation while the opponents that Poly Prep beat where ranked 6,516th in the country. That’s quite a big difference and it turns out that Poly’s loss to Friendship Collegiate hurt it a lot because that school, ranked 286th in the nation, would have brought the ranking to 5,891 which is much closer to Lincoln’s number.
The fact that one school could swing the scales so much got me thinking. In order to normalize that number a bit more, I took off the largest and smallest margins of victory so one or two big wins, or slight wins, wouldn’t throw the entire thing off. What I was left with was Lincoln opponents were ranked 5,994th in the nation on average while Poly’s was ranked 6,516th on average.
Conclusion: To wrap things up, Lincoln actually had the tougher schedule out of the two teams. Not by a lot, but thanks to Poly’s loss to Friendship Collegiate there was a big enough difference that I feel this is a solid conclusion. Poly had the single toughest victory out of either team, their win against Salesianum, but they also faced teams that were easier to beat, Xaverian and Valley Forge Military Academy, that were easier than any teams Lincoln has faced.
So I guess this is an apology to Jay Hayes, I’m sorry but you were wrong. Lincoln has indeed had a tougher schedule, if only slightly. It’s enough that I feel justified with my power rankings.