High school football coaches in Greater Rome have found a better way to determine what teams will go into the playoffs and how they will be seeded.
This fall, teams competing in 7-AAAA, 6-AAA and 7-AA, regions that are all subdivided, will use the final week of the season as a form of playoff that will determine a region champ and the top four state playoff berths.
This will be a fair way to produce the best four teams to represent the region, Pepperell coach Jeff Shiflett said.
The No. 1 teams from both subregions will play for the region title, while the No. 2 and No. 3 teams from both subregions square off.
The region champ will be ranked No. 1 in the playoffs with the region runner-up taking the No. 2 seed. The teams that win the games between the No. 2 and 3 schools will round out the state playoff berths.
Region 7-AA, which had been the subject of postseason confusion, has not had a true region champion since 2005.
Calhoun won outright region championships from 2001-05, but has staked claim to the 7-AA top spot for the past two years by virtue of earning the regions No. 1 seed for the state playoffs.
Last fall, the Yellow Jackets were the outright No. 1 team thanks to winning all of their games against Class AA teams, which involved contests against their 7-AA North foes and a pair of crossover games against South squads.
In 2006, Calhoun was awarded the No. 1 seed thanks to an agreement made before the season in which the North would get an alternating top nod first if no other tiebreaker method settled the matter.
Calhoun coach Hal Lamb is supportive of the new arrangement and thinks it will alleviate speculation as to who should be region champions.
Its always good when you can determine a champion, Lamb said. If (the No. 1 teams) play, youre not worrying.
You get a true region champion. You get the four best teams to represent the region.
As for the alternating of region titles between subdivisions, Lamb is glad to see it be a thing of the past.
When youve got to alternate, I didnt feel comfortable with that, he said.
One team in particular couldve been helped out with this method last year. Rockmart finished the 2007 season with an overall record of 7-3 and a region record of 5-1, identical with that of Pepperell and Darlington.
The Yellow Jackets were handed a loss at home from Callaway, another AA team, in the second week. Rockmart eventually missed out on a chance to make the playoffs because of the loss to the AA non-region team. Darlington and Pepperell didnt face any non-region AA opponents.
Other coaches in Greater Rome agreed that the new way would ensure the best teams are present in the playoffs.
Rome High coach Sid Fritts said he likes the new system because it keeps more teams interested in the playoffs.
Theres different ways of doing it. Ive done it in the past, he said. Theres pros and cons, but with regions being subdivided, some type of playoff may be the best way.
It keeps teams in the hunt. Our way, it keeps six teams in the hunt. Youre going to see more of it.
Rome, whose Region 7-AAAA is now subdivided for the first time, won six straight region titles prior to last year when the Wolves came in second.
Shiflett agreed there were flaws with the previous format.
In the past, we were taking the top two teams from each subregion and they hadnt played each other, he said. The last two years, (the No. 1 and 2 teams) havent played each other in the regular season.
Another downside to the former method is if one subregion is dominant, the schools in the other subregion might not get a shot at the playoffs. Lamb and Cedartown coach Mark Loudermilk both see the new format as a solution to this problem.
If any subregions are top heavy, this gives a third team a chance to make it into the playoffs, Lamb said.
You get a chance of getting the best region teams, said Loudermilk, whose team will be playing in a Region 6-AAA that has been sub-divided for the first time. One side could be tougher, so this way you know youre getting your best players in the playoffs.
Region 6-A, which includes Darlington and Trion, will not use the season-ending format since the schools will play a full region schedule. Darlington moves to 6-A because of reclassification