The reclassification of Oregon’s high schools for athletics has brought some major changes in how each level determines its football playoff teams.
The four classifications that include the 13 schools in the Democrat-Herald and Gazette-Times coverage areas that play football are all affected by the changes taking place this fall with the start of the new four-year time block.
For the most part, there are fewer leagues with each league awarded a certain number of berths to fill 16-team playoff brackets.
Here’s a look at the postseason changes affecting area schools.
The Oregon School Activities Association’s 5A classification for football has 36 teams, including six 6A schools dropping down for football.
The 10-team Mid-Willamette Conference — featuring local teams Corvallis, Crescent Valley, Lebanon, South Albany and West Albany — gets five of the 16 bids in the OSAA playoff bracket. The Mid-Willamette, for football, is also known as Special District 3.
Special District 1, which has 14 teams, gets six state playoff berths. Special District 2, with 12 teams, gets five. The OSAA rankings are then used to seed teams in the playoff bracket.
With 10 teams in the conference and a nine-game regular-season schedule, the Mid-Willamette is not afforded nonconference games as it was as an eight-team league in the first 12 years of the 5A classification.
Some of the league’s coaches fear that could be a detriment to the Mid-Willamette’s playoff seeds and thus their chances at advancing in the bracket.
While the 5A classification did away with its play-in round to qualify some teams for its 16-team bracket, play-in games remain in 4A.
Each of the six special districts automatically qualify two teams for the 16-team playoff bracket. Each district determines how its two spots are allocated.
The play-in round includes the next eight teams after the automatic berths are decided. The four winners in the play-in round advance to the bracket, with the OSAA rankings determining the seeding.
Philomath and Sweet Home are both in the six-team Special District 3. Their five-game league schedule begins next week.
Fifteen of the 16 playoff bracket berths are awarded based on league seeding.
The 12-team Special District 1, which includes Scio, and 12-team Special District 2, with Harrisburg and Santiam Christian, both get six spots. The five-team Special District 3 gets three berths.
The last spot will go to the highest remaining team in the OSAA rankings.
Both of the 12-team special districts are playing five-game league schedules, which will leave some teams with a much easier strength of schedule in those league contests than others.
Some schools in those districts are playing league opponents in nonleague games, such as Harrisburg and Cascade Christian, Special District 2 foes, are doing this week.
The 2A classification has set up its playoff structure much like 4A.
Each of the six special districts gets two teams automatically in the 16-team playoff bracket. The last four teams get in with wins in the play-in round, which features the next eight teams from the OSAA rankings after the first 12 berths are decided.
Central Linn, Jefferson and Monroe are all in the six-team Special District 3.
Their five-game league schedule, like for the area 3A schools, begins Sept. 28.