By Anthony Jones
The Illinois High School Association announced a major change on February 7, removing the north and south split for football playoff brackets.
Up until now, the 32 teams that made the playoffs in classes 1A-6A were split in half based on a geographical split of northern and southern schools until the state championship. That split is now gone, a move that had already been made for classes 7A and 8A, where large schools such as Collinsville and Edwardsville play.
Looking at Class 5A, where Triad and Highland played last year, there are certain to be extended drive times in the postseason. The average first round trip this past season for 5A was 2 hours and 1 minute, while the new system would have added 16 minutes onto that average.
Last season, Triad played at home against Country Clubs Hillcrest who had made a 2 hour and 55 minute trip. Under the new system, the Knights would have hosted Chicago St. Patrick from 3 hours and 31 minutes away.
Highland opened on the road last postseason and rode 2 hours and 13 minutes. The new bracket system would have made them travel 3 hours and 56 minutes to Sterling High School.
Many advocates of the new system support it because they want the playoff brackets to be more balanced and less lopsided. The change is effective immediately and will be used for this fall’s football season.