Missouri Or Illinois Prep Football Playoffs: Which Format Is Better?

By Jim Wieners

After 24 years of round-robin, four-team district football qualifying for state, the last three weeks of the season (the last four out of five for five-team districts), the Missouri State High School Activities Association has decided on a new way to compete in the playoffs.

And that is every team will be completing in at least 10 games. The first nine will be regularly scheduled games. Teams that do not have a nine-game schedule must play at least five to qualify for the post-season playoffs.

The 10th game will be a post-season district game where the winner will advance while the loser is finished. Each district in Classes One-Four and Class Six will have eight teams while in Class Five six districts will have six teams while two districts will have seven teams so top-seeded team(s) will have a bye in week 10. With the exception of teams having byes teams must win three games in district playoffs to advance to the state quarterfinals in Classes One-Five and the state semifinals in Class Six.

Week 10 or the first round of district play in Classes One-Five would be played on a Thursday night if the paired teams agree or on a Friday Night but not on a Saturday. The next two rounds of district play and the state quarterfinals will be played on a Wednesday-Monday-Saturday format. Class Six district and state playoff games will be played on a Friday night or on a Saturday afternoon if the home site has no lights.

Seeding for teams is based on a complicated math process. Each team will receive 20 points for a win, 10 points for a loss and 15 points for an overtime loss and each game is added up and divided by the total number of games played prior to district playoffs. Each team will add 10 points for each opponent who is one class higher, 20 for two classes higher and so on. Strength of schedule is based on the total number of points for each opponents’ season (20 per win, 10 per loss, 15 per overtime loss) divided by the total number of games played (minus games played by the participating teams)

Also, point differential, a format previously used to determine three-way tiebreakers for round-robin district games, will be also added to the seeding process. The margin of victory or defeat per each game, added or subtracted, not to exceed 13 points per game, will also figure the seeding process.

The higher-seeded team will host the game but the host team will receive only 60 percent of the gate receipts while the visiting teams gets 40 percent. The tournament pairing process is like that of other team district sports (number one versus number eight, number two versus number seven, and so on).

ILLINOIS HIGH SCHOOLS — With each school playing as many as nine games not all will be playing 10. Only 256 schools will play 10 games, 128 will play 11 and so on. Illinois has eight classes; each class will have 32 schools participating in the first round.

Qualifying for state has three options — automatic qualifying for teams that have won at least six, seven, eight of nine games — automatic qualifying for conference champions provided the conference has at least six teams, no more than 10 — teams with five wins and four losses qualify based on the total number of wins by their opponents with the first tiebreaker is the total number of wins of each defeated opponent. No complicated math just a point for each opponent wins to determine strength of schedule.

Should the points tiebreaker does not determine the final playoff spot, then a coin toss will decide. Last year a coin flip decided the last playoff spot.

While Missouri high school football teams know who they will likely play in the first round of districts, bases on class and districts, Illinois high schools will not know who they will play in the first round of the playoffs. The Illinois High School Association has a radio selection show (this year on Oct. 20) to determine teams class, seed and opponent. School enrollment for class plus total wins and playoff points (based first on opponents wins than based on wins by their defeated opponentsThe higher team hosts the first round. Each round after that is based on number of home or road games played or seeding, which is complicated.

By late October fans will likely debate on which state football playoffs is better, MSHSAA or IHSA.

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