MAIS makes positive changes to postseason

Published 12:01am Sunday, June 9, 2013

Adams County Christian School versus Trinity Episcopal Day School isn’t the only prep football rivalry being put on hold.

Thanks to a recent action by the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools, the North and South State divisions have been eliminated in football, and the playoff system will be entirely power-point based.

Prior to this coming season, the power point system in MAIS football was used to determine homefield advantage in the playoffs. If two teams that won their district both squared off in round two, for example, the team with the better power points would be the hosting team.

Now, teams will not be divided by North and South but will instead be seeded one through 16 in each MAIS classification: Single-, Double- and Triple-A. Power points will determine the seeding, with the higher seed always hosting, until the state championship round.

There are pluses and minuses to using a power point system to determine playoff seeding. The pluses are that teams are rewarded for playing a tougher schedule instead of going up against cupcakes and padding your record. Playing a tougher schedule also has the added benefit of better preparing teams for what they’ll face in the postseason.

Vidalia High School’s recent snubbing in not making the Louisiana High School Athletics Association playoffs best highlights the minuses. Jena High School made the postseason despite losing to Vidalia twice and finishing with a worse overall and district record.

Was Jena’s schedule so much more difficult than Vidalia’s that it justified the Vikings getting snubbed? There are teams that obviously belong in the playoffs, and teams that are borderline candidates. For the borderline candidates, the new system is less-than-ideal. Unless one team played an overwhelming tough schedule and the other an extremely easy schedule, how accurately can you assess strength of schedule between the two? Is it based on how each team’s opponents fared? If so, that’s beyond each team’s control.

Regardless of where you stand on the power point debate, though, getting rid of North and South State was a good idea. As ACCS head coach David King said, the same teams were playing one another each season in the South come playoff time. Trinity, Brookhaven Academy, Centreville Academy, Central Private, Oak Forest were all traditional powerhouses, and they were all knocking one another out over the course of the postseason.

Now, teams in the southern half of Mississippi will have a chance to face teams from the northern half if they get seeded against each other. With the district structure and the power point system encouraging stronger schedules, many of the aforementioned schools will have played one another during the regular season. The new system allows teams that wouldn’t normally square off a chance to do so.

It also makes things more balanced. The third best team in the southern half of the state may have been better than any team up north. The new seeding system will allow the better teams to go deeper into the playoffs. With the South having traditionally been stronger in recent years, it would eliminate the South State title game being a de facto state title game.

The one minus of the new system is lower-seeded teams possibly having to travel more, but as Wilkinson County Christian Academy head coach David Wright said, when you get to the playoffs, you expect to travel. Giving players a chance to go to visit cities they may not have been to before is a positive.

Overall, even factoring in the pluses and minuses of power points, the MAIS did a good job making the system more progressive and competitive, for which it should be commended.