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Published October 28 2010

Clark: Teams should earn their way into playoffs

If the high school playoffs are such a special event, then why do winless teams get to play?

Most states have a regular season, giving every team a chance to play games. The playoffs are reserved for the teams that have actually earned that right.

So why does Minnesota have a system where a winless team can make the playoffs?

It cheapens the regular season and it almost gives no incentive to care.

That’s why the system here needs to change and the playoffs should be an incentive for teams that have winning records.

The stats even prove it with the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds going 66-2 across the state on Tuesday night. One of those schools that pulled off a shocking upset was Bagley, a No. 7 seed, beating No. 2 Frazee 28-0.

Bagley is proof of the George McFly-attack, where the smaller, unsuspecting guy was able to deliver a shocking knockout punch.

But if a winless team or a squad with a handful of wins can pull off an upset, what does it say about that team? Were they sandbagging the whole season or did they pick a great time to have their best game?

Let’s be honest. Quite a few of these No. 7 and No. 8 seeds have no business in the postseason. Upsets rarely happen when looking at Tuesday’s games and last year’s first round.

In the first round of the 2009 playoffs, the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds went 60-1 in the first round. Duluth Central was the only team that got a win and in the next round it was crushed 40-0.

At some point over the last few days, high school football fans have surely pondered this flawed system.

Those voices became prominent when you had weather conditions like Tuesday where rain and ice was flying in at 50 mph.

Maybe it’s the top six teams from every section that advance. Another idea someone threw out was giving the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds a bye into the second round.

The final suggestion was having the top four teams from each section advance.

For example, take Section 6A and its top four teams. That’s the section featuring Barnesville and Browerville, which are both undefeated. It also has Upsala/Swanville, which is 6-2 and Pillager, which is

5-3.

Something says Pillager would put up a decent fight against Barnesville. Instead, Barnesville was scheduled to play a team like Parkers Prairie – until Parkers Prairie forfeited because of injuries.

That also raises another point. If you’re a school that’s had a bad season, do you really want to go out there one last time and suffer another defeat?

We can all agree every school should get a chance to play football.

Let’s just hope that we can eventually agree only a certain few should make the playoffs.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Ryan S. Clark at (701) 241-5548 or at rclark@forumcomm.com