Monday night football might be coming to Georgia next week, and some of the teams involved probably don’t know about it yet.
The Georgia High School Association this week identified seven regions that might play mini-games on Monday to determine their final playoff teams.
Those regions are 5-AAAAAA, 2-AAA, 7-AAA, 2-AA, 5-AA, 6-AA and 8-AA.
A mini-game is played over 10 minutes in five-minute halves. A team might play one or two mini-games in one day. Rules of mini-games are explained below, and on pages 69-70 of the GHSA Constitution and By-Laws.
The reason for the unexpected mini-games is a change in the GHSA’s by-laws. In the past, the GHSA’s default method for breaking ties was the teams’ winning percentage against all teams in their classification. But the GHSA’s executive committee voted that out this year.
Not everyone knew of the change. The confusion arose because an example of how the old rule worked was inadvertently left in the GHSA Constitution and By-Laws.
Wheeler coach Michael Collins figured his team would qualify for the playoffs in the event of a three-way tie for fourth place with Woodstock and Etowah. Wheeler has the best W-L record among the three against all AAAAAA opponents (the old rule). Collins was startled to learn Thursday that his team instead might be involved in a mini-game in the event of a three-way tie in Region 5-AAAAAA. But he took it in stride.
“We’re still in our day-by-day philosophy of just wanting to play a great game Friday night,’’ Collins said. “If that’s what it comes down to and we’re playing any form of football next week, we’ll be excited.’’
Regions may bypass the mini-games if they previously notified the GHSA of their own tiebreaker system. The GHSA’s rules are the default if regions don’t specify their own plan in writing to the GHSA before the season.
One region that has its own rules is 1-AAAAAA. That south Georgia region could have a three-way tie for third involving Colquitt County, Coffee and Valdosta, but the region notified the GHSA of its plan to use a points differential system among games among the contending teams in the region.
“If the regions just said they were using the white book [GHSA] tiebreaker, then the chances for mini-games are much greater,’’ said GHSA spokesperson Steve Figueroa. “But if they came up with anything else on their own to avoid a mini-game, including using winning percentages, then they are allowed to do so. Encouraged to do so, in fact.’’
The rationale for eliminating the old rule is to encourage neighboring schools of different classifications to play each other, saving in travel costs, without hurting their chances in a tiebreaker.
Here are the scenarios of potential mini-games next week:
5-AAAAAA: There will be a three-way tie for fourth among Wheeler, Etowah and Woodstock if Wheeler (5-4) beats Cherokee (1-8), Lassiter (9-0) beats Etowah (4-5) and Milton (6-3) beats Woodstock (3-6). Head-to-head results are the first tiebreaker, but Wheeler, Etowah and Woodstock would be 1-1 against each other.
2-AAA: Jackson, Pike County and Central-Macon will wind up in a three-way tie for third place if Central (2-7) beats Pike County (5-4) and second-ranked Carver-Columbus (8-1) beats Jackson (6-3).
7-AAA: Buford’s forfeits to West Hall and Banks County have complicated this region’s playoff picture. A three- or four-way tie for fourth place is possible among Banks County, Dawson County, East Hall and West Hall. But Dawson County (5-4) can clinch fourth place and eliminate any chance of mini-games by beating West Hall (3-6).
2-AA: Benedictine, Bacon County and Toombs County will wind up in a three-way tie for third if Toombs County (6-3) beats Atkinson County (0-9); Bacon County (5-3) beats Bryan County (3-5); and Benedictine (7-2) loses to McIntosh County Academy (7-2).
5-AA: Kendrick, Bremen and Spencer will be tied for fourth if Spencer (3-6, 3-4) beats Kendrick (4-5, 4-3). Region 5-AA is using a points differential format to decide a three-way tie among Bowdon, Manchester and Heard County, but did not notify the GHSA of any plan for breaking lower ties. That means the region must use the GHSA’s rules – mini-games – by default.
6-AA: Hapeville Charter can force a three-way tie for third place with an upset Friday of heavily favored Westminster. Wesleyan is on hold just in case.
8-AA: Three-way ties could exist among Greene County, Rabun County, Union County and Oglethorpe County. The key to this house of cards is the Oglethorpe County-Rabun County game. If Oglethorpe pulls what would be a mild upset, mini-games are guaranteed – assuming that region champion Jefferson (8-1) beats Union County (6-3).
GHSA TIE-BREAKER MINI-GAME PROCEDURE
1. The schools shall meet at a site selected by the GHSA Executive Director for a playoff on the Monday night after the end of the regular season.
2. The games will consist of two five-minute halves. The play begins for the first half with a free kick, and standard game rules and scoring are used.
3. There will be a two-minute intermission between the two halves. Play begins for the second half with a free kick.
4. Each team will be given two (2) timeouts in the first five (5) minutes and one timeout in the second five (5) mintes.Unused timeouts in the first five minutes may be carried over to the second five minutes.
5. If the score is tied at the end of two overtime periods, the teams will go to the GHSA 15-yard overtime procedure.
6. A coin toss will determine the order of play.
a. When three teams are tied for one open spot, the team winning the toss gets a bye – and then plays the
winning team of the first Tie-Breaker game.
Example: Team “C” gets a bye
Team “A” plays Team “B”
Team “C” plays the winner of game 1
Winner of game 2 qualifies for the playoffs
b. When three teams are tied for two open spots, the following format will be used.
Example: Team “C” get a bye
Team “A” plays Team “B” and the winner qualifies
Team “C” plays the loser of game 1 and the winner qualifies
If Team “C” wins game 2, the regular season winner between Team “C” and
the winner of game 1 will have the higher placement
c. When four teams are tied for one open spot, the pairings will be determined by draw and the following format will be used.
Example: Team “A” plays Team “B” in game 1
Team “C” plays Team “D” in game 2
Winner of game 1 plays winner of game 2
Winner of game 3 qualifies
d. When four teams are tied for two open spots, the pairings will be determined by draws and the following
format will be used.
Example: Team “A” plays Team “B” in game 1 and the winner qualifies
Team “C” plays Team “D” in game 2 and the winner qualifies
The winner of the regular season game between the two winning teams will have the higher placement
7. When teams play a mini-game tiebreaker on a Monday, their first round playoff game will be scheduled for the following Saturday unless both schools agree to play on Friday.