Burford Column: Love it or hate it, new playoff format helped area teams

By By Albert Burford / American Press

It’s that time of year when we are told to count our blessings. So I’ll offer up a blessing in disguise for those who aren’t

too happy with the split playoffs.

Hate it or love it — and it seems those are the only two camps, nothing in between — the new high school football playoff

system has helped teams in Southwest Louisiana.

Yes, the new playoffs will name too many winners.

Yes, the new playoffs have some serious logistical issues.

And yes, the new playoffs are giving teams from Southwest Louisiana exposure in a way they haven’t seen in recent years.

Somehow I don’t think we’d be looking

at the possibility of a Welsh versus Kinder showdown in the Superdome if

those teams

had to go through John Curtis to get to New Orleans. But here we

are, and that game isn’t a far-fetched dream, it’s an achievable

goal. Vinton also has a chance at being one of those teams to make

it to the Dome in the same bracket.

A year ago, that wouldn’t have been the case.

Southwest Louisiana wasn’t claiming

nearly half — three of the eight — Class 2A teams remaining in the

quarterfinals last

year, that’s for sure. In fact, Rosepine was the lone team from

the area in the regional round of those playoffs last season.

When it comes to representing this part of Louisiana deep in the playoffs, the more, the merrier.

Last year, DeRidder probably wouldn’t have had the opportunity to match up against Breaux Bridge and shut it out to make a

run to the quarterfinals against Class 4A No. 1 Neville.

The talent on our local teams seems to have improved from last year, but it doesn’t hurt that some of the competition was

placed in a bracket of its own. Doesn’t hurt the exposure, at least.

The reason they are getting more

exposure, unfortunately, is because the competition isn’t quite as stiff

when you take away

the non-select schools. That’s unfortunate and doesn’t exactly

solve the problems people had with the old playoffs. But hey,

these are the new rules, so we’re all playing by them for at least

one season for better or for worse.

If you disagree with the split

playoffs, just quietly accept the benefits. The benefits of having a

number of Southwest Louisiana

teams playing and getting exposure as the state playoffs roll into

the quarterfinals Friday don’t justify the split, but they

certainly make this time of the year a lot of fun.

So, even if you’re not thankful for the split playoffs, be thankful this region of the state is getting a bit more of the

spotlight than usual in this year’s playoffs.

It’s that time of year anyway.

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Albert Burford covers high school sports for the American Press. Email him at aburford@americanpress.com