The biggest offseason story in high school football around the state was the Virginia High School League's new classification system which leads to a different postseason format.
When it comes to the VHSL playoffs, it's out with the old and in with the new.
The VHSL has a new six-classification system and is expanding the playoffs. Each division will have a 32-team playoff field divided in half geographically statewide.
“I think it's great,” Lord Botetourt coach Jamie Harless said. “I think it was something that was long overdue. Because I think in some divisions, especially in AAA, those Richmond schools were really put in a bad situation because you don't have any other schools to compete against.”
Cave Spring coach Tim Fulton said: “I think it's better with this idea of not having to play teams that are so much larger than we are. It'll be interesting when the conferences come back in and some make it to the playoffs and some don't.”
While the system theoretically makes things fairer, there has been some negative feedback. The old system with district and regional champions has a lot of value to coaches and players. And with district champions now being a thing of the past, some coaches feel it takes away from tradition.
“The realignment is fine. But the thing I don't like is you no longer compete for a region championship,” Giles coach Jeff Williams said. “As a coach that's been coaching a long time, that's disappointing. And I think that's one thing high school kids look forward to is competing for a region championship.”
Christiansburg coach Tim Cromer said: “I am going to miss naming a different champion. I am going to miss naming a region champion. But I do like when you get to the state final, you're going to play someone the same size as you.”
But as the season progresses, some schools may benefit from extra teams making the playoffs.
And they now feel the best teams will be playing longer since they won't be beating each other up during regional play.
“With the realignment, it's going to reward the better teams to be playing throughout the year,” Rockbridge coach Jason White said. “Just being honest, region three has had five or six of the best teams in the state. We’re beating heads in the first, second round of the playoffs where as I feel like we're teams that should have been playing longer.”
What will the outcome be of the realignment? Will the predictions come true? We'll find out this November.