In the current realignment makeup getting to seven wins has seemed to be the goal for Double-A high school football teams across the state of West Virginia if they have any hope of making it to the playoffs.
With the imbalance and with 44 teams in Class AA, there's not much leeway.
Six wins, which used to be enough for some teams in the computer ranking system, is usually not enough now.
Seven wins are needed.
"With Double-A having an abundance of teams you have to win at least seven games to have a chance at making it to the playoffs," Chapmanville Regional High School coach Rob Dial said. "Some years, six wins might get sneak you in but we found out a couple of years ago that that doesn't happy too often. There was even one 7-3 team last year that did not make it.
CRHS went 5-5 last year and last made it to the post-season in 2015 when the Tigers won seven games and lost 41-14 to Robert C. Byrd at home in an opening round matchup.
Man went 6-4 last season and also missed the playoffs. Logan was 4-6.
"The previous three seasons here at Chapmanville Regional we've won 16 ballgames," Dial said. "We've finished 17th twice and 21st the other season in the final standings of Double-A. We're so close. For us, we need to find a way to win that extra game and make it back into the top 16. Once you make it into the playoffs anything can happen."
CARDINAL CHANGES AHEAD?: With the WVSSAC's realignment coming up there could be changes coming in the Cardinal Conference makeup for the 2020 grid season.
This could be the last year of the league's current 10-team consortium as Winfield, and possibly others, could be moving up to Class AAA.
The Cardinal Conference has traditionally been a 2A-only league. Beginning in the 2020-21 season, the SSAC is moving to a pilot four-class format for basketball only. Winfield is jumping up to 4A, while Logan, Herbert Hoover, Nitro, Wayne, Sissonville and Scott would also be Class AAA in basketball.
"I think there will be discussion this season as far as how the league is going to proceed moving forward," Dial said. "I don't think it would be advantageous if a Triple-A team in football would be in the conference, say if Winfield moves up. There's no way a team would want to play eight Double-A games to be eligible for the playoffs. We have a great relationship with Coach Snyder over at Winfield. He does a good job and they have a great program but if the numbers dictate that they move up to Triple-A in football or 4A in basketball they may be forced to look elsewhere as far as conference affiliation."
Dial said when Chapmanville joined the league in 2007 it forced the Tigers to improve to keep up with the competition.
"When we joined the conference in 2007 that's when we began to make our playoff runs," Dial said. "We've played great competition. Being in the conference forced us at Chapmanville to up our game so to speak. Credit our players and coaching staffs in all sports because I feel like Chapmanville has competed and is well respected in all sports."
DIFFICULT SCHEDULE: All three county teams have difficult schedules ahead.
Logan and Chapmanville will play nine tough league games and difficult non-conference contests against county rival Man.
"Our schedule is difficult as it is every year," Dial said. "We play nine Cardinal Conference games and the one out of conference game that we have is Man, which will have a very very good football team this upcoming season."
Man, a Class AA independent, has added Class AAA Greenbrier East to its schedule this season. The Spartans replace Keyser, who the Hillbillies played the last two seasons. Man plays at East on Sept. 20.
"We are going there in the fourth week of the season," Man 18th-year head coach Harvey Arms said of Greenbrier East. "We just have to schedule who we can get. We've had trouble finding that 10th game and luckily we were able to make a deal with them."
Man also travels to Class AA power Point Pleasant on Oct. 25. The Billies have just four home games and six away this fall.
Man could go back to Single-A status when the new alignment is set to be released this fall. That would not take affect until the 2020 season, however.
"No matter if we are Single-A or Double-A our schedule will not change because we've played these key Double-A teams and that goes back for years," Arms said. "It's been a long time playing them."
Man had an impressive run as a Class A school previously.
The zenith was the 2009 season when the Hillbillies advanced to the Class A state championship game at Wheeling Island Stadium after home playoff wins over Parkersburg Catholic (25-20), Fayetteville (37-26) and Richwood (27-20). Man ended up falling 27-7 to Weirton Madonna in the state championship game, the school's fourth state runner-up finish in its history.
Man also had Class A playoff berths in 2004, 2005. 2008, 2013, 2014 and 2015.
The Billies advanced past the first round in 2005 with a 14-0 win at Hamlin. In 2008, Man was also a first-round playoff winner with a 27-7 victory over Mount Hope.
Man lost to Bishop Donahue and Tug Valley twice in the 2013, 2014 and 2015 playoffs.
PRESEASON OPENERS: Logan, Man and Chapmanville are scheduled to see its first preseason action this weekend.
The Wildcats are scheduled to have its preseason opener on Friday, Aug. 16, at home against Lincoln County. Game time is 6 p.m.
The Tigers are scheduled to scrimmage the rival Scott Skyhawks in its preseason opener on Saturday, Aug. 17, at Chapmanville at 6.
Man is set to travel to Charleston's South Hills area on Friday at 6:30 p.m. as the Billies are slated to play at Class AAA George Washington in its traditional preseason opener.
CARDINAL GRIDORAMA SET: The field has been set for the annual Cardinal Conference Grid-O-Rama, set for Saturday, Aug. 24, at Skyhawk Field on the campus of Scott High School in Madison.
The annual preseason event brings all 10 conference football teams together in the final test before the start of the regular season.
Game 1 has Logan taking on host Scott at 10 a.m. Poca and Wayne follow at 10:30 a.m. in Game 2, while Nitro and Sissonville play each other in Game 3 at noon.
Chapmanville battles with Herbert Hoover in Game 4 at 1:30 p.m. and the finale at 3 has Mingo Central taking on Winfield.
After playing in the Grid-O-Rama, Chapmanville won't have much time to prepare for its season opener with Sissonville, which was recently bumped back a day to Thursday, Aug. 29, and moved to Charleston's Laidley Field.
The move was made because Sissonville High School is replacing its natural grass with Field Turf for the 2019 football season and the project is not expected to be complete until Week 2 of the season.
Paul Adkins is the sports editor of the Logan Banner. Follow him on Twitter @PAdkinsBanner or email him at email@example.com.