No football state champions to be crowned in WIAA this year
MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Like many other traditions taken away this year, state champions will not be crowned in Wisconsin high school football. Instead the WIAA will place teams into regional pods of eight within their division to reduce travel. Then set up matchups based off competition levels for two weeks of postseason play.
“By starting September 7 with two weeks of practice and maintain the last date of November 20, the football season got condensed. In our discussions with football coaches they wanted a regular season that meant something.” WIAA Deputy Director, Wade Labecki told NBC15.
“If you could go with a regular season you could have your conference season which would allow you to have conference champs, and that’s how we got to seven games in the regular season. Which left us with two levels. Logistically we just couldn’t do our state championships.”
Labecki added that the WIAA decided to hold regional championships instead to mitigate the risk of spreading COVID-19.
“They’ll be able to call themselves regional champions. At this point we usually award a plaque for qualifying for the playoffs. We haven’t done a regional championship plaque or anything like that so at this point I’d say that’s not in the plans. But there’s nothing from stopping them from saying that they are.”
There are currently 222 schools eligible for the postseason. The WIAA would divide them into seven divisions with the goal of creating competitive regions.
“We don’t want an 0-7 vs a 7-0 so we’re going to try and take the top four schools in their region and put them in their pod and seed them one to four. Then take the next four and seed them five through eight.”With the post season ending on November 20, Labecki added that a large factor in not holding the regular five rounds of playoffs this year was to minimize scheduling conflicts with the start of winter sports on November 23.
“We’re trying to get kids games is what we’re doing. When we look back to where we were at back in March, back in August, I think you know getting this far to the season and even in the postseason is just something to celebrate to begin with.”
“A lot of it comes down to the brackets and how they’re able to go ahead and be spread out. Football you’re limited to one game a week.”
“Our priority was based on the regular season and getting as many games in as the schools could for their kids.”For programs like Mineral Point who’s the No. 2 ranked team in division six, they feel they missed out on a opportunity to win their first ever state title."We’re in a situation this year where we feel like we could compete at the highest level within our division, so it’s very disappointing." Head Coach Andy Palzkill said.
“But we understand I think the situation of our society and our nation with the pandemic and something’s better than nothing.”For Charlie Clark who’s a senior at Edgewood he’ll take as many remaining games as he can."It is pretty disappointing to not be able to compete for that state championship but I think given with how crazy the season has been, it’ll be an honor either way to be crowned or even compete in any competition we can."Labecki still feels that although a trophy will not be handed out, these two levels of games will be meaningful.
“I think it does. Considering the circumstances and considering the fact that we want to go ahead and stop the spread as much as we can, yes.”
“It’s wonderful to hold up at trophy. And it’s a wonderful thing to give the coaches those trophies and it’s a wonderful thing to give the coaches those trophies and the kids their medals. But at the same time you know we do the best that we can in the situation that we’re in.”
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