MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Prep Sports

February 6, 2013

Format in Class 6A football will change

Two options to go before schools

Class 6A football soon will change.

How it changes depends on a vote of its member schools after the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association board of directors voted unanimously Wednesday to approve a proposal by the OSSAA constitution and rules review committee, involving two separate plans. What’s missing is a “none of the above,” meaning one way or the other, the alignment of the state’s largest classification will be different beginning in 2014. Current district alignments are in a two-year cycle that expires after the 2013 season and the new alignments will be released this summer.

The first plan, similar to a previous proposal rejected by the OSSAA board, will split the 32 Class 6A football teams into two divisions, with the 16 largest schools based on attendance in Division 1 and the smallest 16 in Division 2. Each division would have two eight-team districts, with four teams from each district making the playoffs.

The second plan would keep Class 6A districting as it is, with four eight-team districts. But each district would include four teams from the largest 16 schools in attendance and four from the smallest 16 schools. Two teams from each group of four would make the playoffs, with one eight-team playoff bracket for the largest schools, and another eight-team bracket for the smaller schools.

Both plans would drop a week of the postseason and would in all likelihood split Muskogee from competing with Union and Jenks — winners of every 6A title since 1997 — and Broken Arrow, the state’s largest school with 4,586 students in its average daily membership numbers last revised Aug. 6.

Roughers coach Josh Blankenship wasn’t certain where he stood on the choices. Although superintendent Mike Garde is Muskogee’s voting representative, Blankenship said they have both had discussions since a recommendation came from the coaches in December to “get ahead of an evolving situation” after the previous proposal was rejected.

“What they seem to have done is tweak the plan we recommended,” Blankenship said, referring to a December meeting of 6A coaches and athletic directors. All but one pair of the current 6A head football coaches and athletic directors, including he along with MPS athletic director Bobby Jefferson. Blankenship said Midwest City was the lone school not represented, and a few 5A schools were present.

That plan, said Blankenship, was a hybrid of the Texas plan which instead of taking the top four finishers in each district and splitting the two biggest schools and the two smallest schools into separate brackets, would simply add one team into each bracket, meaning six of the eight schools would qualify for postseason play. The Texas plan of two divisions, four teams was “discussed at the end” of the December meeting “but there wasn’t a consensus on that like there was the six-team plan,” Blankenship said.

“Now, it’s looks like it’s kind of bizarre tweak of that proposal because you could finish among the top four but miss the postseason,” he said.

However, Ed Sheakley, executive director of the OSSAA, said Wednesday evening that the districts would basically have subdistricts independent of one another.

“The only games that will count toward determining playoffs are the three you play against your group within that district,” he said, adding that both groups within the district would play each other as they would if the plan was in effect now — in effect, making a 10-game schedule consist of seven games that don’t count.”

Broken Arrow is triple the size of 11 6A schools. Union and Jenks come close to doubling those same 11. And, the three along with Owasso are the only east side schools in the upper half of the current 6A roster.

There is a regularly scheduled meeting today of all Frontier Conference athletic directors and coaches.

“I’m sure there’s going to be some interesting discussion there,” said Blankenship, who will attend the meeting.

So will Jenks athletic director Tony Dillingham. He said Wednesday night he has concerns with both plans — with one, having to do with travel as it particularly impacts underclassman teams and concerning the other, the idea that “in a situation where you have three games that count, what happens if you have a key kid injured?”

Adding  Dillingham: “I’m a little puzzled by the whole deal. We went through some effort where the ADs and coaches could have a voice and had something conceptually acceptable to everybody.”

But that wasn’t the case, said Mike Nunley, Edmond athletic director who facilitated the coaches and AD meeting. Nunley is also a member of the committee that presented the proposal.

“There might have been a suggestion that one plan appealed more to others when we were having meaningful discussion,” Nunley said. “But by Wednesday of that week I had received several calls from people who said ‘I wasn’t supportive of that idea.’”

Nunley said about 10 proposals from schools, including those from that meeting, went before the committee.

The realignment process which has taken place at the coaches clinic in July will be delayed, Sheakley said, until the new ADM report is released in August.

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