District dilemma

Cooper Stein, Staff Writer

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The boys’ varsity soccer team is going to have to win the Class 3A district final in order to guarantee a spot in this year’s regional quarter finals. In years past, the winner of the district title would play the runner-up of another district in the regional quarter finals. Now a new system of wild-cards will be implemented for the state tournament. This new system will affect boys’ and girls’ soccer, baseball teams, basketball, volleyball and softball. Each of the four districts in each region will produce a district winner. From there, four of the highest ranked teams, rated by Maxpreps using strength of schedule and record, will also move on. This means that even if the highest ranked teams are all from the same district, they advance. The four district winners will take the one through four seeds based on ranking by MaxPreps and the five through eight seeds will be filled by the highest ranked four teams that didn’t win districts. The accuracy of the rating scale by Maxpreps has been questioned by head varsity soccer coach Bob Robidoux.

“For the past two years, MCC has beaten us in the district finals and yet we still have been ranked higher than them by Maxpreps,” Robidoux said. “It’ll be interesting how regionals play out with the potential for many teams from the same district, and that moving on there will be a lot of big rival games throughout regionals and into states.’’

Because the four highest-ranked teams move on besides the district winners, Athletic Director Tony Riopelle said the change will create better competition and allow for a more balanced tournament.

“In the past, if you look at a lot of those first regional quarter-final games, a lot of teams were getting blown out because weaker teams were moving on by being the runner-up in a weaker district and then matching up with the winner of a good district,’’ Riopelle said. “Now with better teams, the level of competition is much higher all throughout the tournament rather than the competition only being towards the end of the tournament.”

Along with the changes to the structure of the state tournament, teams are no longer required to play other teams in their district. Previously each team had to play a specific number of games against district opponents in order to qualify for the district tournament. Riopelle said this will allow for better games during the regular season.

“Now teams don’t have to waste games on weaker opponents and instead can play better teams that provide a challenge,” Riopelle said. “This will allow our sports teams to continue to get better by playing against better competition.’’