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State Football Seedings, Berths and Tie-Breakers. Oh My.
A look at how each classification bracket will be seeded for the state football tournament.
Published: 10/22/2020 10:47:45 AM

State.  Tournament.  Seeding.  In.  Idaho.

Those five words have caused more arguments over the years than "who are you voting for?"
For decades, state tournament brackets were pre-seeded months, even years, in advance by the Idaho High School Activities Association. The IHSAA provided the state tournament - it was up to each conference to figure out how to get their teams there. Some people felt that if the system wasn't broke, why try to fix it? Others held the opinion that the system was antiquated and unfair to top teams who were placed on a bracket arbitrarily. Everyone agreed the system wasn't perfect, especially when teams with losing records went to state while teams with winning records stayed home.

In 2018, the 2A classification was the first to dip their toes into the waters of change by seeding their last three teams using the Ratings Percentage Index (RPI). The 3A classification used the same RPI to seed one at-large berth, but held off on doing anything crazy until it saw how it worked out for the 2A classification. It worked so well that in 2019, 3A seeded its entire tournament using the RPI. In return for its leap of faith, the top four seeded 3A teams (No. 1 Homedale, No. 2 Snake River, No. 3 Sugar-Salem, and No. 4 Timberlake) played in the semifinals. No. 1 played No. 3 for the championship and No. 3 won, but that was definitely close enough. 

Other classifications took notice and plans were finalized last winter for the 4A-through-1AD1 state tournaments to all be seeded using computer rankings. 5A and 1AD2 will continue to use pre-seeded brackets. However, the RPI was promptly dumped like a guy whose date met someone cuter at the dance. Instead of continuing with the RPI that got them there, it was decided that MaxPreps rankings would be used to seed teams on the brackets. 

Take a minute, and a couple of preemptive Excedrin, and then read how the MaxPreps rankings work.
Even though MaxPreps rankings will be used to seed the brackets in 4A, 3A, 2A and 1AD1, every classification has their own style and way they run things.  I have gone through each classification to help you figure out how your classification will be seeding their state tournament bracket. 

Here we go.

5A Classification Bracket
The 5A bracket will have 12 teams. The first 10 teams are selected by pre-determined district representation. Basically, each conference gets a certain number of teams on the bracket based on how many total teams are in their conference. 

North: Two guaranteed seeds (50%)
Four total schools 
(IEL - Coeur d’Alene, Lake City, Lewiston, Post Falls)

West: Six guaranteed seeds (54%)
11 total schools 
(SIC - Boise, Borah, Capital, Centennial, Eagle, Kuna, Meridian, Mountain View, Rocky Mountain, Skyview, Timberline)

East: Two guaranteed seeds (40%)
Five total schools 
(D 5-6 - Highland, Idaho Falls, Madison, Rigby, Thunder Ridge) 

At-Large Berths
The final two teams will be selected as "at-large" teams. These two teams will have the best winning percentage of the remaining 5A schools based on the pre-determined "big school" criteria. 
1. 5A Idaho school
2. Non-Idaho schools with enrollment of 1280 or higher (grades 9-12)
3. Non-Idaho schools with enrollment of 960 or higher (grades 10-12)

What if there is a tie?
If two eligible teams have the same winning percentage, a tie-breaker will be used. 
1. Head-to-head
2. Common opponent
3. Point differential against “big schools” (maximum of nine points per game)
4. Highest end of season MaxPreps ranking

4A Classification Bracket
The 4A bracket will have 16 teams. The first 12 teams are selected by pre-determined district representation.  
District 1-2 (one seed) 
District 3 (four seeds) 
District 4 (three seeds) 
District 5 (one seed) 
District 6 (two seeds)

The final seed will be given to a team from District 1-2 or District 5 based on who has the highest MaxPreps ranking. This is not an at-large seed. It is an extra seed given to the districts with only one guaranteed seed.  

At-Large Berths
Four additional teams will be selected as "at-large" teams.

The five conference champions will be seeded No. 1 – No. 5. The 11 remaining qualifying teams will be seeded No. 6 – No. 16. All will be based on MaxPreps rankings. 

What if there is a tie?
If two eligible teams have the same winning percentage, a tie-breaker will be used.
1. Head-to-head
2. Common opponent 4A, 5A, 3A
3. Coin toss

3A Classification Bracket

The 3A bracket starts out with three qualifier games. These six teams will be selected by district representation and seeded No. 1 – No. 6 based on MaxPreps rankings. The three winners of the qualifier games will be thrown in the deep end of the seeding pool (along with the five conference champions) to be seeded No. 1-No. 8 on the quarterfinal bracket using the MaxPreps rankings. 

2A Classification Bracket
The seeding method for the 2A bracket is a lot like the 3A bracket. The five conference champions get byes to the quarterfinal round and the six highest ranked teams that didn't win their conference will be seeded to play in three opening round games. However, a 2A Football Committee will have the ability to modify the bracket based on extensive travel by a team and/or a matchup between two teams from the same conference. 

The quarterfinal round will be seeded using MaxPreps rankings with the remaining eight teams. 

1AD1 Classification Bracket
The 1AD1 bracket will require some focus. If you need to take a break, now is the time to do it. Go to the bathroom, grab a drink with some caffeine in it and stretch your legs a bit. 

While the overall 1AD1 bracket concept is similar to 3A and 2A, there are a few additional caveats in regards to where and when games will be played in the play-in round. 

Twelve teams get in to the tournament. The five conference champions are automatically on the bracket. However, only the top FOUR highest ranked (MaxPreps) conference champions get a bye to the quarterfinals. The lowest ranked conference champion has to play in the play-in round. If that conference champion is ranked outside of the top 12 1AD1 teams, they will automatically get the 12th seed.

Play-In Round Rules
There are four play-in games. The winners will be reseeded, based on MaxPreps rankings, along with the four highest ranked conference champions that got a bye to the quarterfinals. If the two teams are in bordering districts the higher seed will host. If there is a district between the two teams, the schools' athletic directors will work together to determine a neutral site. My suggestion was to let them arm wrestle for it, but no one listens to me. 
If the site, date and/or time can’t be agreed on, they will refer to the IHSAA Non-Regular Season Football Game Procedure Policy for guidance. Once they have the details worked out, the higher seeded team is responsible for all of the game management - like getting officials, running the clock, getting a chain gang, running the gate, security and overall administration of the game. 
1AD2 Classification Bracket
Besides 5A, the 1AD2 is the only other classification to use pre-determined conference representation to seed their bracket. But unlike the 5A, 1AD2 said "no thanks" to all the bells and whistles, like at-large berths and tie-breakers. Say what you want about the downside of a pre-seeded bracket, it's a heckuva lot easier to figure out.


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