Extra Points: Brian Spano 4/11

Brian Spano

By Brian Spano PrepsKC Senior Writer
Posted: April 11, 2012 - 7:59 PM

No question, there definitely is going to be a new look and feel to the Missouri district playoffs in 2012.
Welcome to the world of realignment—high school football style.
Heck, if the pros can do it and the colleges ARE doing it, why can’t the high schools join in? Let’s go back to where it all began.
First, the Missouri State High School Activities Association announced last season it was restructuring the playoff system going from a four-team district playoff format to a six or eight-team district. Well, those six and eight-team districts were released 10 days ago, and not only were teams moved around into different districts, but some teams were even moved up or down in class.
Why this was all necessary is still beyond me. I was a huge proponent of the former system and still like the idea of combining Class 5 and 6 (see previous column).
Now that these changes are in place, and there’s nothing I can do about, let’s take a closer look at how this will all shake out next season.
In what used to be two districts in Class 6 has now been essentially combined into one. The only change is that Columbia Rock Bridge moves to District 3, and Lee’s Summit jumps from Class 5 to Class 6. With the exception of Joplin, it makes the new District 4 Kansas City based; however, it is only populated with schools on the western side of the state.
Class 4 and 5 is where some of the more dramatic changes occurred.
I already mentioned Lee’s Summit’s rise to Class 6 from Class 5. The Kearney Bulldogs enter Class 5, while Raytown South falls from Class 5 to Class 4. Pleasant Hill moves up from Class 3 to Class 4.
Obviously, all of this shuffling has thrown a wrench into the district assignments. Kearney was placed in District 8 with St. Joe Central, Oak Park, Park Hill, Park Hill South and defending Class 5 state champions Staley.
In Class 4, Ray-South will compete in District 7 with Bolivar, Grain Valley, Grandview, Harrisonville, Nevada, newcomer Pleasant Hill and Warrensburg.
Center, a team that has had some pretty good success over the last couple of years in Class 4, was dropped to Class 3. The Yellowjackets are in District 7 with Clinton, Hogan Prep, O’Hara, Oak Grove, Odessa, Pembroke Hill and Southwest.
Other area teams that were on the move were Cameron, going from Class 2 to Class 3, Holden dropping from Class 3 to Class 2, and ACE at Southeast and Derrick Thomas Academy joining Class 2 as MSHSAA sanctioned games. University Academy, which had one of its most successful seasons last year, jumps to Class 2 from Class 1.
After all that, I understand the change in classification is due to enrollment, but can some of it be due to filling out the districts to make it all fit nicely? I can see that some of this was probably done to develop natural rivalries and to make more of the regular season important with additional district games. In the previous system, a team could start 0-7, while another could go 7-0. The winless team could finish the season with three straight wins and advance to the postseason. The undefeated team could lose three straight games and see its season end.
Is it right? Maybe not. Is it fair? Doesn’t matter. That’s how the system was developed to give those teams a second chance within the regular season. It was exciting and emotional and had a playoff feel during the season.
We’ll see how this new format works and how programs, coaches and players adjust to it. Like a lot of people, I’m not sold on it yet, but when the ball is kicked later this year, it may not matter to me then. All that will matter will be the game itself.