The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

October 23, 2012

Missouri prep football playoffs kick off Thursday

By Richard Polen
Globe Sports Writer

— The Missouri high school football district championships begin Thursday under a new format approved last spring by the Missouri State High School Activities Association.

Teams earned homefield advantage for the first round by placing among the top four teams in their district under a ranking system that includes season record, strength of schedule, games against larger-class teams and scoring margin.

For McAuley Catholic, which had five home games and four away games this season, the No. 2 seed in Class 1 District 2 means another home game Thursday against Jasper at Fred G. Hughes Stadium.

In order to make the game financially equitable to all schools, MSHSAA guidelines state that the gate receipts — minus expenses — will be split 60-40, with the home team keeping 60 percent of the receipts.

McAuley head football coach and athletics director Brenden Gubera said the additional revenue wasn’t a factor in the Warriors’ desire to have a home game this week.

“I don’t even look at the revenue,” Gubera said. “Our kids love to play at Missouri Southern and play on the turf. It’s so much easier for our fans to go to Missouri Southern.”

The revenue adjustment is a way of accounting for the difference between the standard 10-game schedule in past seasons to this year’s nine-game schedule, said Sarcoxie head coach Luke Rader.

“In the past, if we were playing Diamond in Week 10, we would probably play them again next year,” Rader said. “Now, in Week 10 next year, we may play somebody different. It’s set up the same as the playoffs have been before.”

Thursday’s games have some rematches of regular-season games, including Diamond at Sarcoxie, two teams that compete in the Spring River Valley Conference.

Sarcoxie, 7-2, the No. 2 seed in Class 2 District 4, defeated Diamond 27-6 in the second week of the season at Diamond. Rader said he prefers the new playoff system over previous formats.

“It makes the whole season exciting on top of the conference race most schools are in,” he said. “This is probably the best system they’ve had as far as settling it on the field. Now, it’s win and move on or lose and go home. Now, everybody is in the playoffs. You control your own destiny.

“That’s one of the exciting parts. There’s almost a March Madness feel. It gets fans interested in teams outside their own town.”

All six Class 3 teams in the Big 8 Conference will renew conference rivalries. East Newton will play at top-seeded Cassville, Aurora will play at No. 3 Monett and Mount Vernon will play at No. 4 Seneca.

District champions in Classes 1-5 will be determined in a three-game slate. The district semifinals are scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 31 and the finals are set for Monday, Nov. 5.

Eight district champions in each class will advance to the state quarterfinals on Saturday, Nov. 10.

In Class 6, which is comprised of the 32 largest schools based on enrollment, the district championships begin Friday. Teams are divided into four districts, instead of eight in Classes 1-5.

Joplin is the sixth seed in Class 6 District 4 and plays Friday night at No. 3 Raymore-Peculiar.