Lake Wales Football

They're at it again, the Florida High School Athletic Association.

Just when fans and coaches and players were used to the latest version of “how we qualify for the playoffs,” the governing body of prep sports in Florida has changed the system one more time.

And, as always, there are pros and cons — both for the football postseason, and for other teams sports as well.

On the football side, out is the “points” system — used for the past two seasons — which not only took into account wins and losses in a current season, but wins and losses by opponents in the previous season, as well. It was something that a lot of coaches weren't crazy about.

The new system is simplified in that just three criteria will be used to come up with a new “power index” (RPI) for each school. That rating will be determined by your winning percentage (35 percent), your opponents’ winning percentage (35 percent) and the winning percentage of your opponents’ opponents (30 percent).

There are no bonus points, like with the previous set up, and final score is not a factor in the new rankings system. And, if weather wreaks havoc and causes cancellations, there's no real penalty for that, either, since it is winning percentage — not wins — that is used.

What hasn't changed in Classes 5A through 8A is that district champions will still advance, with playoff spots five through eight in each region determined by the power index ratings. Classes 1A through 4A will still award all playoff spots based on the index, with six teams in each region getting the call.

The other interesting change – and this actually came down the pike last fall, but a lot of fans didn't notice it – comes in determining district champions in soccer, basketball, volleyball, softball and baseball. In fact, teams that win district titles in those sports starting will not necessarily have to play their district rivals.

While there will still be district tournaments, seeding for those events will be based on a power index created from all regular season games, which will be determined by the individual teams — without mandated district games in the regular season. District tournament winners will automatically get a postseason berth, but the rest of the coveted playoff spots will be determined by the RPI.

The website will do the RPI calculations for all sports. Football rankings will be released every Tuesday during the 2019 season, starting in Week Six.


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