KSHSAA approves playoffs
Tonganoxie will have another chance at the state football playoffs next fall.
The Kansas State High School Activities Association announced earlier this month that the playoffs would be expanded from 16 to 32 games, with each district champion and runner-up advancing in all 11-man classes.
In the past, only the district champion has advanced. In some instances, two unbeaten teams have been in the same district, with only one advancing to the playoffs.
Tonganoxie coach Mark Elston welcomes the change.
"Kansas rules are so far behind other states," Elston said. "One more game not only gives more teams a chance to move on, but also one more week of fundamentals."
The regular season is still nine games, and not all teams will advance from districts, but now 32 of 64 teams will play 10 games in 4A through 2-1A, which is double what the previous 16 teams were guaranteed.
"It's a 10 percent increase in the season," Elston said. "That's huge."
The date for the added game hasn't been set. A possibility would be classes 4A, 3A and 2-1A playing first-round games Nov. 5, second-round games Nov. 9, quarterfinals Nov. 15, semifinals Nov. 22 and finals Nov. 29.
Classes 5A and 6A will go from an eight-team playoff to a 16-team field. Proposed dates for their playoffs are the same as the other classes, with the exception of the Nov. 5 game.
Along with the added week, the proposed change would move the last two playoff dates from Saturdays to Fridays.
Elston likes the alteration because it puts less pressure on players going into the first game of districts in the regular season.
"In that regard, it makes all the difference in the world," Elston said.
The larger field will allow some weaker teams to compete in the playoffs, Elston said, but also could help teams that are up and coming.
Either way, Elston is happy about the new playoffs and ready for more alterations.
"Now if the state would make additional rule changes," Elston said. "We've got a long way to go, but it's a step in the right direction."
Elston has a wish list for other new rules.
The Chieftain coach wants two weeks of football camp in the summer, as opposed to the current one-week session. He also wants Kansas to be up-to-date with other states by having spring practice.
THS athletes participate in 7-on-7 tournaments, but coaches aren't allowed to coach their teams, something Elston wants changed.
He also wants the start of fall practice moved up so two-a-day practices don't conflict with school.
This year, Tonganoxie will start school before practice, and two practices per day will have to be scheduled in.
"Missouri has two weeks of two-a-days prior to school starting," Elston said.