The second year of the new district format for high school playoffs has produced an interesting road to the state championship.
Overall, everyone seems satisfied with the new seeding process. The No. 1 and 2 seeds were dominant over the No. 7 and 8 seeds – just like the system in supposed to work. The new format has placed a lot more meaning in the regular season games. The performance on the field during the regular season allows the No. 1 and 2 seeds to have a much-deserved home field advantage home field advantages through the first two rounds of the playoffs.
The Missouri State High School Activities Association has spent many years attempting to develop a fair system for all of the high school football teams. I had the dubious task of serving on three of the ad-hoc communities that have worked to revise the football playoff system. It is impossible to please everyone. MSHSAA takes conference and geographic alignment into consideration to divide districts for all six classes. Each class is determined by official school enrollments.
I do like the eight-team districts and the opportunity for teams to advance by victories on the field. It would be fun to see a lower-seeded team upset a top seed and advance to the big game, even though it would be a huge statistical long shot.
Good football teams generally have a significant advantage over the other lower-seeded teams. That’s the theory behind seeding. In years past some of the districts had three or four of the top 10 teams in the state in one district. Through the late ’80s and all of the way to the late ’90s, only one team emerged from the district.
At one point in the late ’80s, the large class had Rockhurst, Blue Springs, Columbia Hickman and Lee’s Summit in the same district. Prior to district play all four teams were among the top 10 in the entire state. It was not a fair situation. A much weaker team elsewhere in the state advanced in the playoff system and three really good teams were eliminated.
MSHSAA then went to a system that allowed two teams to advance from each district. It was a much better system than its predecessor but still lacked equity.
The present system is a solid improvement over the past, but not perfect. It seems a large number of state semifinal games and championship games are still blowouts. That situation should be eliminated if a re-seeding process would occur following district play. The present system still leaves the door open for inequity at the championship level.
The logic behind the current system is to avoid two teams from the same area competing for the state championship. The two best teams on the field deserve to compete for the championship – geographies should not play a role in the decision. In Class 6 Rockhurst, Blue Springs and Blue Springs South could all be worthy of a state championship matchup. In Class 5, Fort Osage and Lee’s Summit West would be a great state championship matchup. I think players, coaches and fans would all much rather see a nail-biter during the big game than witness a huge blowout.
The travel excuse given by MSHSAA just does not fly. We are only talking about seeding the semifinal game, and I am sure any superintendent and school board would figure out how to get their teams to a state championship venue.
Nothing brings a community and high school together more than giving its young people the opportunity to experience an event like the state championship game – a game played on an NFL field and televised throughout the state of Missouri.
My good friends at MSHSAA have done a good job of improving the system. My challenge to them now is take it one step further and seed one more round. That would truly produce a state champion.
• If you watched the Chiefs game Sunday you heard Dan Dierdorf behave like a cheerleader for the Buffalo Bills. Come on Dan. You are a well-deserved member of the Missouri Hall of Fame. Even though you played for St. Louis, get off the Bills bandwagon!
• Give Missouri kudos for their big time bonus victory against Tennessee.
• KU basketball might be just as exciting for Jayhawk fans as football has been for Tiger fans.
• It looks like Division II teams like Northwest Missouri State, Emporia State, Pittsburg State and Washburn all might get bids to advance to the NCAA Division II playoffs. Missouri Western is still not totally out of the picture. The MIAA is really something if you like Division II football – good stuff.
• Pinch me, please … Chiefs 9-0 at the bye week!
• My quote of the week comes from Hall of Fame catcher Roy Campenella: “I am proud of my trophies, but truthfully when I was playing, I never thought of records. I just tried to do all I possibly could to help the team win.”
Tim Crone, a William Chrisman High School graduate, is a former activities director and coach for Blue Springs High School and is a host of a weekly radio show, “Off the Wall with Tim Crone,” on KCWJ (1030 AM) 5-6 p.m. every Thursday. He writes a weekly column for The Examiner. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org