Class 11B pushing for SoDak16 format
Class 11B football could be the next in line to utilize the SoDak16 format.
When the South Dakota High School Activities Association Football Advisory Committee met on Nov. 26, members voted unanimously (7-0) in favor of a SoDak16 format for the Class 11B playoffs.
The format would seed the top-16 teams based on seed points, regardless of region and the bracket would be played out without reseeding.
The new postseason setup has proven to be popular in basketball, volleyball and soccer in recent years. If the proposal goes through at the SDHSAA Board of Directors meeting in April, it would go into effect in fall of 2019.
"It's not that anything is broken necessarily with the current system," SDHSAA Assistant Executive Director John Krogstrand said. "But more all of our other team sports now—volleyball, basketball, soccer—have all gone to that 1-16 concept. So I guess kind of the football question was 'Why not us?' a little bit."
The other 11-man classes—11AAA, 11AA and 11A—are all seeded from the start of playoffs, do not reseed after the first round, and aren't determined by regions in the opening round. Class 11B and the three nine-man classes are broken into four regions, with the top-three teams in each making it, followed by the next four highest seed-point totals from around the state, regardless of region qualifying to make up the 16-team field. Currently, the remaining teams are reseeded after the opening round.
The top-16 teams based on seed points would now advance to the playoffs and region positioning would not factor into the equation.
"Our goal in the whole deal is to get the top-16 teams in the playoff period and this hopefully would be a step in that direction," said McCook Central/Montrose football coach Ryan Evans, who is also a member of the football advisory committee.
Evans said Class 11B coaches voiced their opinion on the matter and a majority wanted to be aligned with the other 11-man teams.
Evans said the scheduling also played a factor in the potential switch. Currently, teams play their conference foes during the regular season and few region opponents.
"We basically live in schedules based on conference," Evans said. "But then when you get to the postseason—the way it currently is—the postseason is driven by regions. The coaches told us you are asking 11B to live in two different worlds. During the year, they are living in the conference schedule and during the postseason they are living in the region, which is all fine and dandy, expect for the fact that a lot of us don't play the region teams."
Evans' Fighting Cougars are an example of that. MCM plays in the Big East Conference, which features a number of traditionally strong Class 11B opponents, but that left only two games on MCM's 2018 schedule against region opponents.
In Class 11B, the top teams based on seed points were all in the southern part of the season and several within the same region.
This past fall, Region 2 and Region 3 had the top-five teams based on seed points. No. 1 Canton (47.625), No. 3 Beresford (43.875) and No. 5 Sioux Falls Christian (43.500) were all in Region 2. No. 2 Bridgewater-Emery/Ethan (44.875) and No. 4 Mount Vernon/Plankinton (43.750) represented Region 3.
In Region 4, Winner and Lead-Deadwood were tied for the top spot with 43.125 points. Meanwhile, Region 1 had a logjam of three teams—Aberdeen Roncalli, Groton Area and Mobridge-Pollock—all with identical 41.375 seed points for the No. 1 spot.
The new format would eliminate regionally based games in the first round, but that's becoming the norm in the other sports.
"I think their proposal was just saying, if it was good enough for basketball to drive all over the state to play those contests, that maybe it should be looked at in football," Krogstrand said.
Krogstrand is tasked with scheduling for football and he said the proposed plan won't change his thought process.
"My intention is still to kind of use the regions as a little bit of baseline for some scheduling to try and get those region games in there for a number of different reasons," Krogstrand said. "But obviously to keep some of those natural rivalries in place. I think the regions somewhat remain intact as we go through the scheduling."
Krogstrand also feels the SoDak16 format could be strongly looked at by the nine-man classes in the future.
For Class 11B, the next step will be to present the committee report to the board of directors at their meeting on Jan. 16. Krogstrand said there will not be any action taken on the matter during that time, but the next hurdle is the South Dakota Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association meeting in March. The board of directors will vote on it in April as a first reading and a potential second reading could happen for adoption in June, with it possibly going into effect in fall of 2019.
"I think it's a good idea moving forward and hopefully we can get a good idea from what the athletic directors think in the spring," Evans said.