KSHSAA playoff proposal could spell the end of MCAA

The board of the Kansas State High School Activities Association took a first look last Thursday at a proposal that would radically alter the football playoff system in the state. The plan would have a major impact on many state schools, including Hillsboro.

Evan Yoder, Hillsboro Middle School principal and a KSHSAA board member, said a committee of more than 30 coaches and administrators from across the state had been asked by the KSHSAA to come up with a plan that would eliminate one primary point of contention in the current four-team-district system: premature meetings between state powerhouses.

“If you have two very powerful teams in the same district going into that last (district) game, and they may be the best two teams in the state, only one of them goes on,” Yoder said.

The committee came up with a plan that would create eight-team districts for all classes in the state except the two 8-man divisions, which would have fewer teams in each district.

According to the plan, both the winner and runnerup of each district would move on in playoff competition. The winner of one district would play the runnerup in a neighboring district, and vice versa.

To illustrate how the system would look, schools were organized into the eight-team districts as if the new system had been initiated this year.

Hillsboro High School would be in the same district with longtime rivals, Marion and Herington, but also five schools that stretch almost to the northern border of the state: Belleville, Beloit, Southeast of Saline, Minneapolis and Riley County.

The change would mean the demise of the Mid Central Activities Association, Yoder said, because district play would automatically lock up seven of the nine games of a normal football season.

In all likelihood, he added, the eight teams within a given district would become a new league.

“We wouldn’t have one league for football and another for everything else,” Yoder said.

One significant implication of the change, besides a new lineup of schools, would be increased mileage for Hillsboro and Marion high schools and middle schools, since the two towns are the southernmost schools in the proposed district.

“And a league isn’t just athletics, it’s everything else, too-like forensics and music,” Yoder said. “It would mean a lot more time on the road for us.”

Yoder said the proposal met with resistance from many board members when it was introduced.

“I did not see anyone who was in favor of it,” he said. “But there must be people in favor of it or they wouldn’t have presented it.”

Yoder said the realignment would help some schools who happen to be located in relatively close proximity to each other.

Now that the board has reviewed the plan, it will be sent to the superintendents and possibly the board chairs in every school district in the state during the next two weeks.

The KSHSAA will ask for feedback and a vote from each school district in the state by Dec. 1, Yoder said.

The executive committee of the KSHSAA will gather and evaluate the feedback before any action is taken.

“They may decide to trash this whole thing, or come up with a totally different thing,” he said. “They may decide to keep what we’ve got.”

Yoder said it is ironic that Nebraska is moving toward the four-team district system that Kansas currently uses.

“I guess the grass always looks greener somewhere else,” Yoder said.

After hearing the initial reaction during Thursday’s board meeting, Yoder said he doesn’t think the new proposal will be adopted. It would disrupt too many longstanding leagues and inter-class rivalries.

“Maybe they’ll make some adjustments and revisit (the proposal),” he said. “But I cannot see it passing. And yet, if you have a district that has eight schools and they’re all pretty close-that’s eight superintendents (in favor) right there.”

The alignment scheme as it was described would affect all teams in the Free Press area.

If the plan had been in effect for this season, Canton-Galva and Peabody would have been paired with Chase County, Hutchinson Trinity, Inman, Fairfield, Moundridge and Sterling in a Class 2-1A district.

Goessel and Centre would have been paired with Burrton, Quivera Heights, Hartford, Little River and Madison in 8-Man Division 1.

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