An unprecedented year of high school sports is heading toward some never-before-seen playoff changes.
Last week, the Florida High School Athletic Association announced classification assignments and postseason formatting details for football and volleyball programs.
For football, no district champions will be crowned in 2020. Eight classes split into four regions still remain. Typically, all four regions in each classification are broken down further into districts. But not in 2020.
What the FHSAA has planned is one big postseason where everyone is invited.
In normal years, each playoff bracket includes four regions populated with eight schools. The top four seeds in each region are its four district champions. The remaining four are determined by a rating system.
This year, regular season performances will have no bearing on anything. Every team in each region will be paired by a blind draw that could be announced this week. Not all regions have the same number of schools, either. For Classes 8A-5A, some larger regions may require play-in games that will be held Nov. 13.
Friday, Nov. 13, will be the date Classes 4A-1A begin region quarterfinal matchups, meaning they’ll be one week ahead of Classes 8A-5A in terms of postseason rounds. Region finals for smaller classifications are set for Nov. 27. Larger classes play region finals games Dec. 4.
State championship dates for Classes 3A-1A will take place Dec. 10-12 at Gene Cox Stadium in Tallahassee. Title games for Classes 8A-4A will be held Dec. 17-19, though venues have not been determined.
West Pasco football programs find themselves spread throughout four different classifications.
Mitchell finds itself in the 15-team Class 7A Region 2. Sunlake and Wiregrass Ranch are the only other Pasco County programs in a region that stretches as far as Melbourne Viera.
Fivay is in the 19-team Class 6A Region 2 field. Other Pasco programs are Land O’ Lakes and Pasco. Nine of the teams are from Pinellas, including Clearwater and Countryside.
Anclote and River Ridge are in the 16-team Class 5A Region 3, alongside other schools from Pasco and five other counties.
Hudson is in the 8-team Class 4A Region 3. Cypress Creek gives the region two Pasco programs, though the spread-out group includes Titusville Astronaut, Cocoa and Cocoa Space Coast.
Gulf is not included in the state series and is playing as an independent this season. The Buccaneers are trying to restart their program after positive COVID-19 tests required cancelling multiple games.
Volleyball will have a more familiar feel with district tournaments still intact.
Regular season matches will end this Saturday, Oct. 10, followed by a week of district tournaments, beginning Oct. 12. Similar to football, district tournaments will be seeded by a blind draw. Regional qualification standards will revert back to the ways of years past, when each district champion and runner-up move on. Recent rule changes utilized rankings from MaxPreps.com to determine each region’s four at-large bids.
Region quarterfinals will begin Oct. 21 for 7A-5A programs and Oct. 22 for those in 4A-2A. This year’s state championship matches are set to be played Nov. 13-14 at the Suncoast Credit Union Arena in Fort Myers.
Districts for all West Pasco volleyball programs stayed the same. The only thing that changed for many districts was the number, as in Mitchell’s six-team District 6A-5 now being 6A-7.