Springfield, MO (Ozarks Sports Zone) -- Coming off of back-to-back state championships, it would be easy to see why Webb City head coach John Roderique would subscribe to the notion “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” in regards to MSHSAA’s new playoff format unanimously approved by MSHSAA’s Board of Directors on April 29th of this year.
However Coach Roderique, like many other area coaches, is taking a more optimistic approach to the new format.
“It is really hard to have an opinion on something that we haven’t had a chance to see play out yet, but there are some things that have been nice so far about the changes. In years past scheduling outside of the conference has been tough for us. With the new format it is much easier for us to find two (nonconference) games to fill out the schedule as opposed to four,” said Roderique.
Parkview head coach Anthony Hays echoed the sentiment.
“Having ten teams in our league makes it great because the schedule is already full. For the first time since I’ve been here, we will get a chance to play every team in our conference,” Hays said.
Springfield Catholic head coach Bobby Cornelison likes the opportunity to bring back nonconference rivalry games.
“With the new format you have more freedom in scheduling. If you have a long standing rivalry you now have the option of scheduling that game because you aren’t tied into a district schedule,” Cornelison said.
The potential of losing a home game every other year with the nine game unbalanced schedule is something that Cassville head coach David Large has some concerns about.
“Some years you will have five home games, other years you will only have four home games. We typically do pretty well at the gate, losing a home will hurt revenue to a certain extent,” Large said.
Coach Hays is also a fan of the rewards the new format offers successful teams.
“It allows a chance to reward a team that played well throughout the regular season. If you win your district, you have the possibility of hosting three additional home games and enjoy home-field advantage. It is much more unlikely for a 3-7 team to advance to the playoffs and get to host a game against a 9-1 team under the new format,” Hays said.
Although the new point system will take some adjusting to, the idea that the players ultimately decided their own fate is well welcomed by Coach Cornelison.
“I’m old enough to remember the old system where points determined who made the playoffs. Back then if you scheduled correctly, you could just about guarantee your team a spot in the playoffs. Although the new system does use points, those points don’t decide who does and who doesn’t advance to the playoffs. Every team has a chance to play their way to the state title,” Cornelison said.
Ozark head coach Mark Bliss may have summed it up best when asked his opinion of the new format.
“When I was coaching in Illinois we used a similar format that was pretty successful, but at the end of the day it is all about winning games. If you win, the rest will take care of itself," said Bliss.
The nine week 2012 regular will wrap up on Octt. 19 with district tournaments beginning on Oct. 26. Check in to OzarksSportsZone.com for weekly district rankings.
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