COLUMBIA — The Missouri State High School Activities Association released its district assignments for the 2008-09 cycle, and expanded the Class 6 playoff bracket from eight teams to 16 teams, effective next season.
For the second consecutive two-year cycle, Hickman and Rock Bridge find themselves in separate districts. Hickman will play in District 6, alongside Fort Zumwalt West, Jefferson City, and Troy Buchanan. Rock Bridge was placed in District 8, where it will match up with Blue Springs, Blue Springs South, and Liberty.
The selections are made based on geographic location and conference affiliation.
The expansion to 16 playoff teams means that the top two teams in each Class 6 district will advance to the state playoffs, as opposed to previous years when the district champion alone qualified.
George Blase, Assistant Executive Director of the MSHSAA, said the process had been in the works for four to five years, and was finally voted on last May.
“Our advisory committee, which is composed of nine football coaches, recommended the expansion to our board of directors, who, not wanting to make a decision without doing the proper research, formed an ad hoc committee made up of principals and superintendents, athletic directors and football coaches who then recommended a survey,” Blase said. “The survey was then sent out to all coaches, athletic directors, superintendents, and principals in every football-playing school across the state. We also conducted a research project that examined playoff systems in every state across the nation. After all that, the ad hoc committee then recommended the expansion to the board of directors, who then took the idea to the area meetings and put it in a questionnaire ballot for by-law changes, where it was voted on, passed, and put into place for the next two-year cycle beginning in the 2008 season.
District play will begin the eighth week of the season, October 17, as Rock Bridge will travel to Blue Springs South, and Hickman will host Troy Buchanan.