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FAQs about new high school football playoffs

Q: If my school finishes second, does that mean we get an automatic playoff berth?

A: Probably, but it’s not guaranteed. On Oct. 27, each league will submit its first- and second-place finishers. Tournament directors will slot each league champion into the appropriate sectional tournament. Then they will slot each second-place finisher. If the total is eight, you’re in. But if there are more than eight then the second-place finishers (in leagues of five or more teams) will be ranked by the power rating system and the highest rated second-place teams will fill the divisional brackets.

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Q: Is there a simple way to describe all the changes this year?

A: Sure. The new football format is similar to soccer, field hockey, and all the other MIAA fall tournaments. The regular season is September and October. November is tournament time with the sectional finals Nov. 15-16, the state semifinals Nov. 22-23. OK, there’s more (actually a lot more), but you asked for simple.

Q: So if my team has a losing record, is our season over before Halloween?

A: No, you play your usual 10- or 11-game schedule, including your usual Thanksgiving opponent. But after Oct. 27, a scheduling committee will decide whom you play based primarily on your team’s power rating. So don’t blame your athletic director if you have a long drive.

Q: What if we make the playoffs but lose in the first round? Do we have to wait until Thanksgiving to play again?

A: No. If your school loses in the sectional quarterfinal or semifinal, your school would play other tournament losers. They would be considered regular-season games. That means you’d play your regular-season games, then a tournament game(s), then resume your regular season. No one said this was logical.

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