Starting tonight, all of the classes, from 8-man to Class 4A will be playing district football. All other sports will remain in conferences.
Starting tonight, all of the classes, from 8-man to Class 4A will be playing district football. All other sports will remain in conferences.

It was going to happen. The question was “when”, “how”, and “who”?

No matter how much kicking-and-screaming there was from the eastern side of the state, they were going to be corralled with the west and finally be under one system, with the rest of everyone else.

Now, it’s here. It’s time to get acquainted.

Iowa Class 4A football…meet district football. 

There’s no use continuing to complain about it…from the eastern side of the state to the scribes in Sioux City who’s still think that it’s a CIML conspiracy. It’s time for a new era…and some things to understand about district football as we open the curtain to the 2014 Iowa prep football season.

If you want a short history of how we’ve gotten here, you can go here from a 2011 blog post. The same problems back then are the same problems now: travel, costs, and enrollment numbers, which many fans tend to dismiss the latter, but at this point, it’s become a big factor.

The constant chatter since the formation of the 4A districts in February have been over two pressing questions: how can a team with a losing record qualify for the playoffs, and how does the IAHSAA determine who gets into the post-season.

Well…let’s answer them the best we way we can. Nothing’s perfect, you know.

Q: How did Mason City get into the playoffs with an 1-8 and 2-7 records? That makes no sense.

A: That’s simple. Your district record > overall record. Yep, your district record trumps your overall record.

It’s crazy, but follow me here. In states that have district football (Missouri for one), how you finish in your district usually determines if you get in the playoffs. In the case for 4A, the top four teams in each of the 8 districts advances to the playoffs. If you win even one district game, and those below you don’t, you have a chance to play beyond Week 9…as long as you are in the top 4 in your district.

In the case of Mason City, this is how they got in with sub .500 records. In 2012, they finished 4th in their division with a 1-3 record (1-8 overall). Des Moines Hoover finished last with an 0-4 division record (1-8 overall. A win over a non-division team). Remember, the top 4 in each division (nowdistricts) advances. Ft. Dodge and Council Bluffs Lincoln advanced with 2-3 division records, 3-6 overall.

Ft. Dodge and Sioux City have done division football for the past two seasons. The test run is over for them. District football is waiting for them. (Sioux City Journal)

Everyone in eastern Iowa were irate about it, but when you look at the 2012 playoff field, Waterloo West (3-6), Cedar Rapids Kennedy (4-5), Burlington (3-6), and Iowa City High (4-5) got in with sub-.500 records from the east side. Ottumwa (2-3, 4-5 overall) also got in. Eight sub-.500 teams (4 from each side of the state) got in.

Not good enough?

2013: Mason City finished 2-7 overall, 2-3 in division. Hoover finished 4-5 overall, and 2-3 in division. Mason City defeated Hoover head-to-head, thus the Mohawks had the tie-breaker and ended up 3rd in their division, Hoover in 4th.

Both teams, along with Des Moines East (1-4 division, 2-7 overall), Ankeny and Sioux City North (both 4-5) qualified. Over on the east, Waterloo West, Dubuque Hempstead, Clinton, and Davenport Assumption had 4-5 records…and made the playoffs.

It’s not that district football “helped” bad teams get in…it was expanding the post-season field from 16 to 32 that was the real culprit in allowing teams with losing records get in. So, if you’re going to whine about Mason City, the same could be said for Burlington for a 3-6 record in conference play.

It’s all a wash.

In the next post, we’ll answer the question about the uneven split of Class 4A and why there’s 46 schools and not 48.

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