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Coaches favor playoff expansion in Class 3A, 2A

Oct. 29, 2012 at 5:29 a.m.

Cuero runningback D'Anthony Hopkins runs the ball against Yoakum earlier this season.  The UIL recently approved a playoff expansion in Classes 3A and 2A.

Cuero's District 26-3A loss to DeWitt County rival Yoakum hurt more than its pride.

The Gobblers bounced back to defeat Smithville last week, but will still have to beat Gonzales and La Grange to make the playoffs.

"It's definitely a challenge for us," said Cuero coach Travis Reeve.

The road to the playoffs will become a little easier next season for teams in Class 3A and 2A.

The University Interscholastic League's Legislative Council recently approved a proposal expanding the number of teams qualifying for postseason play from each district from three to four.

The change has drawn the support of a number of area coaches.

"When I coached (at San Antonio Churchill) in 5A we had four teams that went and I think overall it's a good thing," Reeve said. "Especially when you're in a district like we are where it's a very tough district and you've got a lot of good teams. Once you get in the playoffs, the best teams are going to win anyway. I think it rewards the teams who are playing the best at the end of the season going into the playoffs."

Schulenburg coach Tommy Bludau agrees with Reeve's position and doesn't buy into critics' assertions that adding another team from each district will water down the competition.

"I've never had a problem with the expansion of the playoffs," Bludau said. "I feel like the better team is going to win out. You've had a few third-place teams win state championships. People say it's watered down, but it comes out in the wash.

"I have been in favor of expansion every time," he added. "I think going to two teams in the playoffs was the best thing the UIL ever did."

Bludau's position may not come as a surprise, considering the Shorthorns are likely to finish fourth in District 14-2A, Division II.

But Bludau is supported by Jason Herring, who coaches Refugio, which is ranked No. 1 in the state in Class 2A.

"More kids get a chance to experience the playoffs and I'm in favor of anything that benefits kids," Herring said. "People say it will be watered down, but it really doesn't matter because the cream will rise to the top."

Herring is also in favor of eliminating the first-round bye for the district champion in Class 2A, which currently exists with three teams from each district advancing to postseason play.

"For our own selfish reasons it will mean no bye," he said. "High school kids don't do well with byes. We're in a situation where we're likely to be off for a week and have to play Rogers in the first round of the playoffs."

Adding a fourth team in Class 3A, which divides into two divisions for the playoffs, will prevent a scenario where district champions match up in the first round.

El Campo is currently in first place in District 25-3A, but because it has the largest enrollment in the district would enter the Division I bracket in the playoffs.

The Ricebirds' first-round opponent would likely be Gonzales, which has the largest enrollment in District 26-3A and is currently in second place.

"The advantage would be the district champions would no longer be playing each other in the first round," said El Campo coach Bob Gillis. "The way it is now you can have two 10-0 teams playing in the first round."

Another proposal being discussed by the UIL is allowing the district champion to host a first-round playoff game. This would serve as a reward for winning a district championship and eliminate the problem of finding a neutral site.

"If they can come up with an easy way to do it, I think that would be a great idea," Reeve said. "I think that winning the district championship you ought to get some reward for. I think home-field advantage would be something deserving of the district champion."

"A district championship is extremely special," Herring said. "It would be a great deal as a reward to give the district champion a little bit of an advantage going into the playoffs."



A real kick

Bay City senior Karina Clements got her first opportunity to attempt an extra point in Friday's District 23-4A game against Angleton at Bay City's Memorial Stadium.

Clements' kick was successful, but it wasn't enough to prevent the Blackcats from suffering a 40-7 loss and falling to 0-8 on the season.

Clements is the first female to play varsity football at Bay City and the lone female on a varsity roster in the Advocate area.

Mike Forman is a sports writer for the Victoria Advocate. Contact him at 361-580-6588 or mforman@vicad.com, or comment on this column at www.VictoriaAdvocate.com.

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