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New format approved for Kentucky high school football playoffs will be implemented next season

By Terry Boehmker
NKyTribune sports reporter

Two changes in the Kentucky high school football playoffs were approved at the Kentucky High School Athletic Association Board of Control meeting on Wednesday and will be implemented next season.

Teams in the same district will now play each other in the first two rounds to reduce travel expenses. In the third and fourth rounds, teams will be seeded according to a Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) based on records and strength of schedule.

Beechwood football players and fans celebrate after the Tigers won the Class 1A state championship game on Nov. 30. There will be a new format for the playoffs next season. (File photo by Dale Dawn)

In previous years, the playoff system used in all six classes had teams in different districts meeting in the first two rounds of the playoffs. The winners would then advance in a playoff bracket that was already determined.

In all six classes next season, winners of four districts in the western half of the state will be seeded on one side of each bracket and winners of four districts in the eastern half of the state will be seeded on the opposite side of each bracket.

The seeds will be revised after each round with the two finalists on each side of the brackets playing in the six state championship games.

The RPI will rank teams mathematically using a formula that factors 35 percent on a team’s strength of schedule, 35 percent on each of their opponent’s strength of schedule and 30 percent on the opponents’ opponents’ strength of schedule.

“The RPI will be an exciting development, especially given the fact that it will be totally transparent,” KHSAA commissioner Julian Tackett said in a press release. “It does not reward teams for higher point margins, instead rewarding teams that play a tougher schedule, and will not be some group of people interjecting opinions and thoughts with potential unchecked bias. The objectivity of the RPI will be a great feature.”

The KHSAA Board of Control also selected new locations for the fast-pitch softball and archery state tournaments this spring at Wednesday’s meeting.

The winners of sectional and semi-state rounds in softball will play in a single-elimination state tournament at the University of Kentucky’s John Cropp Stadium in 2019 and 2020. The state archery championships will be held at Ephram White Park in Bowling Green the next two years.

For a complete rundown of motions passed at the KHSAA Board of Control meeting, go to the khsaa.org website.

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