(Originally posted OCTOBER 2017 / www.sutv.com)
I'm not sure when the present system of "4" teams assigned to a district and those 4 teams battle it out during weeks 7, 8 & 9 of regular season play to determine who moves on to post-season began, but it's about to end in 4A. I know the system existed in 1999 when I began the Crusader Website - that particular season the Crusaders went 1-5 then went 5-1 to come within a field goal of making the State Championship Game. The system changed a bit just 3 seasons later (2002) - instead of just the top team out of the "4" advancing, the top "2" teams would advance and they added another playoff game to whittle that group in half quickly. The Crusaders certainly prospered in 2002 from that change, they lost to Mulvane for the first time in 16 years, came in 2nd in district play and before you knew it, they were being crowned 4A State Champions in Pittsburg, about the time the 2002 Thanksgiving Turkeys were being carved. That appearance in the State game was Wellington's 7th in the history of the school and their 4th State Championship, having come home 3 previous times with the big hardware! (1969, 1982, 2001). Mulvane didn't advance far in 2002 and have never in their history played in a State Football Championship game. Wellington actually advanced to post-season in football for 19 years straight until that streak ended in the Fall of 2011.
Beginning this FALL (2018), the "4" team district assignments will no longer exist. 4A playoffs will be formatted like 5A and 6A are already.
Class 4A, beginning this season has been divided into "2" groups, the EAST and the WEST. Each group has 16 teams.
EAST - Labette County, Atchison, Baldwin, Basehor-Linwood, Bonner Springs, Chanute, Eudora, Fort Scott, Kansas City Piper, Louisburg, Ottawa, Paola, Pittsburg, Shawnee Mission-Bishop Miege, Spring Hill and Tonganoxie.
WEST - Abilene, Andover Central, Ark City, Augusta, Buhler, Coffeyville-Field Kinley, El Dorado, Goddard, Independence, McPherson, Mulvane, Rose Hill, Towanda-Circle, Ulysses, Wellington and Winfield.
*Each school will schedule their own games from week #1 thru week #8.
*The KSHSAA will seed all 4A football playing schools from #1 to #16 in both the eastern and western sections of the state. Once seeding is completed, the teams will be placed on the playoff bracket for games to be played in week #9 and beyond.
1. Win-Loss percentage in all games played week #1 thru week #8.
2. Head-to-head games if all teams tied for a seed played each other during the current 8-game schedule.
3. Thirteen Point (13) Tiebreaker Procedures:
** A 13 point tiebreaker procedure will be used to determine seeds when there are two or more teams still tied after criteria #1 and #2 are not able to break the tie.
** The total margin of points each team had in all games prior to week #9 (8 regular season games is the maximum). Marginal points are the point differences in final game score. No team will add or subtract more than thirteen (13) points in any game. No team will add or subtract more than one (1) point any game which was tied at the end of regulation time and the winning team was eventually determined in overtime.
** If more than two teams are tied in win-loss percentage and there was no common winner between those teams, then marginal points willl be used to establish the first seed from those tied. The tiebreaker process will begin again with the remaining teams. This process will continue until all teams tied have been seeded onto the bracket.
4. Total number of wins against teams within their classification or higher.
5. Win-loss percentage against teams within their classification or higher.
6. Drawn by lot (The KSHSAA will draw, with at least one witness from the KSHSAA).
All schools hosting a week #9 game are responsible for contracting game officials (5 registered game officials) for this game.
All schools hosting a week #9 game are required to split the gate receipt revenue (50%/50%) with the visiting team (after officials are paid). Other costs of game administration will be paid by the home team from their share of the revenue.
The higher seeded team will always serve as the host playoff school. The exception is the State Championship Game. The KSHSAA will rotate the host school between the east and west.
Playoff round designations: Week #9 - 1st bracketed game, Week #10 - Regional, Week #11 - Sectional, Week #12 - Sub-State, Week #13 - STATE (no awards provided for week #9)
This new format will make all of the regular season games important, not just weeks 7 thru 9 as it is now. It also addresses the inequities that can occur in the 4 team district playoff format. A particular district could be made up of 3-4 teams that aren't top caliber in comparison to many others but "2" of them will still make the playoffs. Vice-versa, a district of 4 teams could have 3-4 very solid teams and just by pure mathematics, 1-2 of them will not make the playoffs under the present system.
One possible criticism of the new format might be that a team would schedule "soft" opponents for weeks 1 thru 8 (where they had the option) with the hopes of being a higher seed beginning week 9. The downside to that mode of operation though might be a resulting team not very prepared for the higher level of competition that will exist in the post-season if they chose to schedule "softer" teams prior to. One other possibility - it will be possible your week #9 opponent could be someone you played during weeks 1 thru 8. Next season for example, Augusta, Mulvane, Rose Hill and Winfield are on our schedule and all 4 are also in the 4A WEST category, along with us. Depending on records, etc...we could be seeded to play any 1 of those 4, week #9 next year. Just a possibility.
So this year will be different and we actually won't know until after week #8 games are played, who our week #9 opponent will be. So, Week #9 will be the first playoff game, if you lose, your season is over. Kind of exciting!