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Area coaches have positive thoughts on proposal outcomes

Sunday, May 6, 2007

SIKESTON -- High school football teams will have an easier shot at reaching the state playoffs starting in the 2008 season.

A new football playoff format passed with a 169-91 vote by Missouri State High School Activities Association member schools on Thursday.

Although the four-team district structure will remain the same, the winner and runner-up of each football district will now advance to the playoffs in all classifications.

An additional round of playoffs will be in place for all classes starting in 2008 with the football season starting a week earlier.

The new format will be given a four-year trial basis before being reexamined.

"I'm all for adding a round," new Sikeston football coach Kent Gibbs said. "I think it's a good deal. Football season gives up three regular season games for the playoffs so you've already eliminated half the teams at the end. Adding another round puts half the teams in the playoffs and I'm all for that. I think that promotes football."

In the previous format, a team could go undefeated until the final regular season game only to lose and not make the playoffs, while across the state another district may have a team enter the playoffs with a losing record.

"People can argue that you're watering it down, but if you look across the nation at how things are done I don't think we're that far off base," Gibbs said. "If you've got a pretty good football team but you just come up a touchdown short, it would be nice to be that second place team and get in the playoffs and give your kids another game. I think there's some incentive there for kids to do well."

New Madrid County Central coach Arlen Pixley was happy with the previous playoff system, but he understands why coaches preferred a change.

"The playoff system we had before was a pretty good system," Pixley said. "I know a lot of people didn't like it. I can totally understand being in some of those tougher districts where you've got two quality teams and one of them stubs their toe along the way and they have a chance to come back and right the wrong, so to speak. Anytime you add more teams you're going to add some excitement to it. But the end result is to just win and everything else takes care of itself."

The new football playoff was one of 30 proposals to pass on the MSHSAA annual ballot.

But the most talked about proposal leading up to Thursday's vote was voted down by a wide margin.

Although there seemed to be strong support for a separate playoff system for public and nonpublic schools, MSHSAA member schools voted 321-92 against a proposal that would have split the public schools and the private schools into two difference playoffs.

Sikeston boys basketball coach Gregg Holifield was happy to see the proposal defeated.

"I think it's good for sports that it we'll all be together because of the rivalry games between public and private schools and the good competition," Holifield said. "We enjoy playing the best teams and the good competition and for that reason I'm glad we didn't separate. If we had a separate playoff systems then we wouldn't have some of these classic games we've had with Notre Dame."

Since the 2001 season, Sikeston's baseball team has been defeated in the playoffs four times by private schools, including the state championship game in 2001 to Jefferson City Helias and in the state semifinals to St. Mary's in 2002, possibly giving Sikeston baseball a reason for wanting a split.

However, Sikeston baseball coach Kevin Self didn't see a logical reason for the proposal to pass.

"Either way it didn't bother me," Self said. "I never thought it would go through. You would've had two different state champions, two different playoffs.

"It would have really penalized the private schools in rural areas because there's not as many schools in our area. I mean, who are they supposed to play? I just didn't see any reason for this thing to pass."