High school football in South Florida is always exciting.
There are always multiple storylines to watch throughout the year and, of course, there’s the little factor of South Florida being the top breeding ground for football talent in the world.
But there was one topic that had everyone from down in Homestead all the way up to Deerfield Beach talking – the FHSAA’s high school football playoff point system.
How does it work? How are the points calculated? What about the districts? Who’s getting in and who’s getting left out?
All those questions were asked on a weekly basis, up until the final week of the regular season.
While the first season with the playoff point system went over without a major breakdown, it didn’t stop the FHSAA from tweaking the parameters – as the state’s governing body updated the point system this past January in anticipation for the 2018 season.
Fans will recall that under the point system, teams were awarded for points for wins and losses. Naturally, more points were awarded for victories while teams could still earn a lower total for a loss.
While the January mandate included a handful of updates, the biggest change is in the number of points teams receive for losses.
In 2017, teams received 30 points for a “Category 1 loss” (a loss to a team with a record of 8-2 or better). In 2018, a Cat-1 loss will yield 35 points.
A “Category 2 loss” will now be worth 30 points while Cat-3 and Cat-4 losses will be worth 25 and 20 points respectively.
Increasing the number of points awarded gives teams incentive for putting together stronger schedules.
This new rule comes a year late for some teams – like Miami Booker T. Washington, who played one of the state’s toughest schedules in 2017. The Tornadoes went 4-5 but played against two eventual 2017 state champions (Miami Northwestern and Hollywood Chaminade-Madonna).
Another major change that would’ve benefitted Booker T. is the board’s decision to add two more playoff teams to brackets in smaller classifications.
Under the 2017 rules, Class 4A-1A playoff brackets only had four teams per region. In 2018, six teams will qualify for the playoffs – with the top two seeds receiving a first-round bye.
That change also eliminates the open date the smaller classifications had in week four of the postseason this year while bigger schools in Classes 5A through 8A were playing state semifinal games.
At its core, however, the point system is still geared towards awarding teams that win games.
A “Category 1 win” (a win against a team that finishes 8-2 or better) still yields 50 points, Cat-2 wins are 45, Cat-3’s are 40 and a “Category 4 win” is worth 35 points.
Under the new rule, a win against a team that finishes the season with a 3-7 record (or worse) is now worth the same as losing to a team that ends the year with an 8-2 (or better) record.
Another small wrinkle that’s been added is the way teams can receive bonus points.
Under the 2017 rule, an additional three points would be added to wins or losses if the opponent was a playoff team in either of the two previous seasons.
In addition to the playoff boost, teams can earn three bonus points if the opponent finished in the Top 25 of the end of the year Maxpreps or USA Today final expert football rankings.
This favors teams that play against out-of-state opponents – like Miami Central and Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas did this past season.
However, teams can only receive a maximum of three bonus points per opponent.
The rest of the point system remained the same.
Teams in larger classifications (Class 8A-5A) will still have a set of district opponents as a part of their regular season schedule. Teams that finish as district champions will still receive an automatic playoff bid and be guaranteed a top-four seed in their region.
Non-district champion teams will still be able to secure a playoff spot based off of point totals.
The small classes (Class 4A-1A) still won’t have official districts. Because of the absence of districts, the playoff teams will be seeded based only on points.