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HS FOOTBALL: Football playoffs to expand

By Nate Beutel

If you can’t wait for the high school football season to begin, how’s this to whet your appetite: the Section VI playoffs are set to expand this fall.

The expansion, which has been approved by both the Section VI football and executive committees, will allow for the top four teams from each division to qualify for the federation playoffs. Previously, only the top two teams qualified.

“The feeling was that often times there are three of four strong teams in a division and this gives the opportunity for more teams to qualify,” said Albion coach and Section VI committee member Dick Diminuco.

With the addition of a quarterfinal round to the playoffs, the regular season has now been reduced to seven games. The quarterfinals will then take place in Week 8, followed by the normal schedule of the semifinals in Week 9 and the finals in Week 10.

Some local coaches believe this will make the end of the season more meaningful for all of Section VI.

“There was general agreement that this will add more excitement to all of Western New York football,” Niagara-Wheatfield coach Al Pogel said. “It’ll be a playoff-type atmosphere for a few weeks instead of one or two. I think it leaves the door open for a lot of exciting things to happen.”

There’s also a feeling that this could narrow the seemingly large advantage that Section V schools have had over Section VI schools in years past. The Rochester-area Section V schools have used this same playoff system for a number of seasons and during that same time have dominated Section VI during the Far West Regionals.

“I think what it really came down to was that Section V has been doing seven-game (regular) seasons for quite a while now and we felt that they’ve been getting the better of us come regionals,” Wilson coach Bill Atlas said. “The hope is that this is going to get us ready for those Section V playoff games.”

Pogel agreed.

“I’m really a firm believer that this will help our teams better prepare for and compete against Section V,” he said.

The playoff plan has been approved as a one-year trail and also calls for each team in Section VI to play at least nine games. During Week 8, the top four teams from each division will crossover with the top four teams from the other division in their class for the federation playoffs. The winners will then meet in the federation semifinals during Week 9, while the losers of the quarterfinal round will be placed in the annual Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame Consolation Bowl playoffs.

Teams finishing below fourth in their division will also play inter-class games in Weeks 8 and 9 to complete their schedule.

The Monsignor Martin Athletic Association and Section V schedule, which includes Barker, have not yet been made available.