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Schedules, Playoffs Point System Will Remain When Play Resumes

It has been a handful of days since Hurricane Irma crawled its way through the state of Florida and while the storm only made partial landfall in most places – many areas are still trying to pick up the pieces and return to normalcy.

Many Florida residents are still without power; swarms of clean-up crews have been dispatched to clear debris from roadways; and schools – from elementary to colleges – remain closed because cities remain in disarray.

Hurricane Irma’s impact began the week of September 6th, when South Florida schools shut down all operations – academic and extracurricular – in anticipation of the storm. What would’ve been week three of the high school football was washed out.

The only South Florida high school to play a game this past week was Miami Central, which travel to Las Vegas, Nevada and defeated nationally-rated Bishop Gorman 24-20. The Rockets (3-0) departed Miami Sept. 6 by plane for the Sept. 8 game, and have been forced to stay in Vegas because airports have yet to resume working commercial operations to the Fort Lauderdale and Miami airports due to the storm.

This week (week four) will also be lost as schools remain closed – reopening no sooner than Monday, September 18th. School officials have to assess the damages to edifices and facilities and deem them safe for students, faculty and staff to return.

The conditions of football stadiums – both stand-alone facilities like Traz Powell Stadium and on-campus fields – remain unclear since other structures take precedence.

Even though most places in South Florida came away fairly unscathed – considering the damage done other places in Hurricane Irma’s path – the effects of the storm have still be felt – like what happened to Miami Ransom Everglades’ (located in Coconut Grove) football field.

Still, high school football – and other fall sports – will resume once schools reopen.

The biggest question for everyone around the state is how will the cancellation of games affect teams’ chances of making the playoffs based on the new playoff point system.

The point system was already seen as a huge enigma to most, but now – with just about every team in the state having games taken off their schedule – folks are scratching their heads even more when trying to decipher how it will all play out.

The Florida High School Athletics Association released a statement Tuesday regarding the process of rescheduling games and how it will affect the playoff point system.

“The safety of the student-athletes, parents, coaches and school administrators impacted by Hurricane Irma remains our top concern,” the statement said. “Due to the widespread and varying levels of impact from Hurricane Irma, the FHSAA has chosen not to uniformly cancel, postpone and/or prohibit play. The FHSAA plans to maintain the originally scheduled season dates in an effort to cause the least amount of impact on all other non-athletic activities. The decision to practice and/or play remains up to each individual school and/or school district. Provided facilities, roadways and conditions permit, each school is encouraged to resume play as soon as possible.”

“In an effort to get teams conditioned appropriately and back on track with regularly scheduled games, practice will be permitted this Sunday (September 17th) only, with your school and/or school districts approval.”

In line with the FHSAA’s statement, play would resume from the week five (Sept. 20-23) point unless teams wanted to try to make up games from either week three (Sept. 6-9) or week four (Sept. 13-16).

Certain teams (specifically from district 16-7A) would have already begun district play in week three. Making up district games always has top priority because those games have a direct effect on postseason implications.

If teams are permitted to practice and their facilities are available, we may see teams elect to play games as early as Monday, September 18 – something the FHSAA will allow.

“Games are encouraged to be made up as quickly as possible, provided facilities, roadways and conditions are appropriate,” the FHSAA’s release said. “In the event games need to be rescheduled or postponed, schools are encouraged to work together to come up with a date that best suits all parties involved.”

The FHSAA confirmed that the point system will remain in place and will be executed in the manner in which it was originally designed, with only one small exception.

“With regard to the FHSAA’s points system for football, as originally planned, total points will be determined by dividing points earned by games played. If a school falls below the eight (8) game (minimum) requirement, the Executive Director may waive the minimum game requirement on a case-by-case basis.”

Meaning, if a team only plays seven games, it must be granted an exception and once it is – its point total/winning percentage will be divided by the games played and not be penalized for games not played.

For a full copy of the FHSAA’s statement regarding Hurricane Irma and to review FAQ’s regarding the rescheduling process, please click here.

J.T. Wilcox
J.T. Wilcox is an award-winning sports journalist who has worked in South Florida for more than a decade. He authors "The Bald Predictions" blog and "The Baldcast" podcast.

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