Dr. D Sports: VHSL Considering Playoffs

The Virginia High School League released its first draft from an Executive Committee session last Monday that started to lay out plans for the regular season and postseason under the Condensed Interscholastic Plan. 

After meeting with coaches, athletic directors, principals and superintendents, the VHSL released a draft plan for the upcoming year to the Executive Committee entitled “Championships + 1.”

“I want to be clear that this work session was not intended to produce a final plan. The purpose of the work session was to provide a draft to the Executive Committee for the FY2021 sports and academic season and for the process of building a plan for the regular season and postseason,” said VHSL Executive Director, Dr. John W. “Billy” Haun. “The various staff meetings with coaches, athletic directors, principals, and superintendent representatives discussed at length the challenges, including health, safety, and financial considerations of implementing any schedule options.

 “We appreciate the hard work and feedback our region athletic directors, coaches, principals, and other representatives provided to our staff during region meetings and through our coaches advisory committees. Our newly formed Student Advisory Committee also provided invaluable feedback as well. The VHSL is fortunate to have a dedicated group of school administrators and coaches who are working tirelessly during these unprecedented times on behalf of all students, as we plan for athletics and academic activities for the upcoming year.”

As expected, teams will play about 60% of what they would normally play in the regular season under the Condensed Interscholastic Plan.

 For winter sports, VHSL basketball teams would start practice on December 7 with games starting on December 21. Each team would play 14 regular season games. Regional playoffs would start on February 8 with state championship games set for February 20.

Under the plan, districts would be allowed to have tournament games that would not count against the maximum contest limit.

Traditional fall sports would start on February 4 when football would begin practice while volleyball would start practice on February 15. Football teams would play six regular season games beginning on February 22 with regional playoffs starting on April 7. VHSL title games would be played on May 1. Volleyball teams would play 12 regular season matches starting on March 1 with the regional playoffs starting on April 12 and state title matches to be played on April 23-24.

For spring sports, baseball, soccer and softball would begin practice on April 12. Baseball and softball teams would play 12 regular season games while soccer would play 10 matches. The regular season would begin on April 26 while regional playoffs would start on June 19 with state title games set for June 26.

The biggest change in the playoff format is that only the top four teams from each region would qualify for the playoffs which is half of the usual eight.

The four-team playoff model would be adopted for most sports and the state quarterfinal games would be eliminated meaning a team would need to win the regional championship to advance to the state semifinals.

State playoff games would be played at the higher seed unless the site doesn’t meet VHSL requirements.

The “Plus 1” would allow teams that do not qualify for the regional playoffs to play one additional contest during the regional playoff time period as a final game for the season.