The end is near
For all practical purposes, high school football’s regular season ends tonight.
Sure, there will be two weeks’ worth of games remaining after tonight. But for the six area teams and almost every other team across Kentucky, they won’t mean a blasted thing.
Tonight marks the end of district play for Boyle County, Casey County, Danville, Garrard County, Lincoln County and Mercer County and for all the teams in their districts. Seeds will be settled and playoff pairings will be set in stone for the first two rounds. It’s the result of a scheduling grid that mandates when district games will be played in 2007 and 2008, and it might have created a bigger problem than the one it’s supposed to solve.
For while tonight’s games are packed with postseason significance, the remaining games are merely filler.
There are some good non-district matchups on the horizon (Frankfort at Danville, Hopkinsville at Lincoln County, Rockcastle County at Mercer County), some matchups that look to be a little more one-sided and four open dates for the six area teams.
The move to wrap up district play earlier than in the past makes some sense in the context of the intra-district playoffs that were introduced last year. Teams play district opponents in the first two postseason rounds, and the district scheduling grid eliminates the possibility of a rematch from the final week of the regular season.
No district games can be played in week 11, and week 10 can only be used if a district game has to be moved from one of the five “priority weeks” (3, 4, 5, 7 and 9) designated for them.
By itself, that’s a good idea. But the intra-district playoffs seem to be an unpopular idea, and that’s where the solution to this problem lies. Restore the regional format that worked so well for so long, and it won’t matter when district game are played in the regular season.
In the meantime, it will be interesting to see how coaches approach the meaningless games that lie ahead. Will they become glorified exhibition games as in the NFL, with the starters playing only long enough to stay sharp for the playoffs? Will teams stick to the first few pages of the playbook, skipping the complex stuff so scouts won’t get a good look at it? What will happen when an injury knocks a key player out of the postseason?
And perhaps just as importantly, will it be worth the price of a ticket on a cold Friday night to get the answers to those questions?
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I’ll admit that last week’s games weren’t the most difficult to pick, but I’m still basking in the glow of my first (and probably only) perfect week of the season, at least until this week’s picks:
- Somerset over Casey County.
- Danville over Washington County.
- Boyle County over East Jessamine.
- Garrard County over Wayne County.
- Lincoln County over Pulaski County.
- Mercer County over South Laurel.
Last week: 4-0. For the season: 32-9 (.780).
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Now that Danville’s boys and girls soccer teams have won their respective 15th Region tournaments, here’s what’s next for them under the even-odd sectional schedule:
- Boys: At home Monday for a sub-sectional game vs. the winner of Saturday’s 16th Region final (South Laurel at Corbin). The winner of that game plays in the sectional round Wednesday at the winner of the Lexington Catholic-Henry Clay game.
- Girls: At South Laurel on Tuesday for a sub-sectional game. The winner of that game hosts the sectional round Thursday against the Woodford County-West Jessamine winner.
Teams that have reached this level are officially in the state tournament, even though they need two more wins to reach the final four at Georgetown. The second of those games has been the glass ceiling that teams from Danville and Boyle County have been trying to break through for the past several years.