Outside the Lines: Time to re-evaluate AHSAA playoff areas

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 25, 2007

For years, the best teams in the state have faced the risk of eliminating each other before the state playoffs begin. The story is no different this year, as Hoover High School entered the final three weeks before playoffs ranked No. 1 in the state for Class 6A, but now sits at home with 30 wins and nothing to show for it.

Yes, the Bucs lost four of their last five games against area opponents, but does it really mean that they deserve to be at home after having one of their best seasons?

Tommy Youngblood, head coach of Area 11 champions Oak Mountain, and Will Smith, head coach of Spain Park, don&8217;t think so.

&8220;The way they put the teams together is absolutely absurd,&8221; Smith said.

Youngblood says the issue goes beyond just the alignment of Area 11, which pits Oak Mountain, Spain Park, Hoover and Vestavia Hills against each other, but that the format should go back to regions, not areas.

&8220;I don&8217;t know whatt can be done. But if you ask the people in 6A, especially in this region, they enjoyed the region play over the area play, because in the region it doesn&8217;t come down to just six games to determine your season,&8221; Youngblood said.

Some say this alignment is to avoid having the same champion every year. While that may be a noble thought by the governing authorities of high school athletics in Montgomery, it is not the right philosophy. The correct way to look at the alignment is to find the most precise way to have the best teams playing for a state championship, not missing the field of competitors because of one weekend.

Smith is unsure that anything will be done in Montgomery.

&8220;We&8217;ve tried, but it&8217;s hard. I don&8217;t think they will do anything about it. It just doesn&8217;t make sense that Pelham and Thompson both drive right past Hoover High to go to Hueytown and Tuscaloosa (for their area),&8221; Smith said.

Geography does come into play, and, as this year&8217;s playoff field shows, this area is made up of the state&8217;s best. However, there are still adjustments that can be made fairly within the surrounding counties by mixing up the teams in Class 6A, Areas 9-14. Alignments will &8220;change&8221; starting the 2009 season, but should we wait