CHSAA tweaks prep FB playoffs

Beginning in the fall, Class 5A high school football teams who crack the 32-team playoff bracket will be seeded by a committee.

The CHSAA football committee decided Thursday teams will continue to qualify for state based on wild-card points, but those points no longer will dictate a team’s seed.

Instead, after the 32 teams qualify, a committee comprised of one representative from each conference will vote on a team’s seeding based on head-to-head matchups, common opponents, overall record, league standings and geography.

Last fall, Grand Junction, undefeated and the Southwestern Conference champion, was a No. 2 seed. But in the quarterfinals, the Tigers had a few special teams blunders and lost to No. 10 Lakewood.

“I know for a fact Lakewood was not seeded where they were because they were in such a weak conference,” said Chris Cline, the CHSAA’s football committee chairperson. “They hadn’t played a tough schedule and ended up proving people wrong. Grand Junction was No. 2, but if it doesn’t have so many turnovers on special teams ... “

Lakewood went on to lose to Columbine in the state championship game.

“I think there is definitely a bias toward the Western Slope,” Grand Junction coach Robbie Owens said.

“Whether or not it was because we were successful this year, obviously there are some people on the other side of the mountain who don’t respect what we’ve done at Grand Junction High School and they’re always trying to tweak things to make the other side look better.”

How will the changes affect Western Slope teams?

“I don’t think this will affect us much at the end of the day,” Owens said. “If you take care of business and you win your games and you’re high up there on the wild-card points it’ll be pretty difficult for them to adjust you down.”

Owens, by the way, responded to rumors that he soon expects to accept a coaching position elsewhere.

“Right now I’m a Grand Junction Tiger,” Owens said.

Mike Krueger, Palisade’s athletic director and CHSAA football committee board member, agreed with Owens that the changes are insignificant to 5A Western Slope schools.

The only caveat to the system is that conference opponents cannot face each other in the first round. So, for example, a No. 2-seeded Grand Junction could not play a No. 31-seeded Fruita Monument.

In other changes, Valor Christian will be an independent in football after being booted from the proposed Pioneer Conference.

Doherty Athletic Director Chris Noll put forth the amendment.

Valor, which defeated Pine Creek 66-10 to win this season’s Class 4A state football championship, has one of the best all-around athletic programs in the state.

Perhaps Grand Junction would have given Valor some competition.

“I still believe we had the best football team in the entire state,” Owens said. “Including Valor.”

Another notable change was 2A football going to a nine-game season with the state championship being held at a home venue instead of a “neutral” site.


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