AHSAA Changes: There is about to be some significant changes for teams that participate in the Alabama High School Athletic Association.
We are already aware of the updates with the next two-year cycle (2022-24) for reclassification and realignments.
Now we have news of a notable change coming in the sports of baseball, softball and soccer. All three are moving from areas to regions. The new format will begin next year.
Areas are generally comprised of three to five teams with the top two reaching the playoffs. Regions are larger (usually seven or eight teams) with four state qualifiers.
It seems like a distant memory when high school football teams made the same change. It was actually in the year 2000.
Prior to regions, we saw area teams with 1-9 records make the playoffs. It was rare, but it did happen.
Tallassee's 1985 football team made the post-season after a 1-9 regular season. The Tigers' only win came against winless Beauregard.
Being in a three-team area meant the top two teams were playoff bound. Tallassee lost in the first round that year to Lanett 37-7.
On the other hand, in areas with three good teams, 8-2 clubs were exempt in certain cases. Again - rare, but it did happen.
The move from areas to regions in football has given us a better gauge of playoff-worthy teams. There still are some lopsided games, but the 1-9 qualifiers are gone.
This will change the dynamics of scheduling. With regions, teams are guaranteed more games with less scheduling flexibility. It may also mean more travel in some cases.
Baseball and softball, while both using area formats, vary in how post-season teams are determined.
Baseball has area series during the regular season with the area winner and runner-up qualifying for the playoffs.
Softball uses area games during the regular season for seeding purposes only. Like basketball, softball area champions grab the top seed and hosts the area tournament.
If a 20-0 team loses in the first round to an 0-20 team, they're done. Basketball, by the way, is retaining their current format - for now.
The coming changes will bring some interest when region alignments are set after the current school year. Until then we'll wait for the completion of the current spring seasons and how the competitive balance will impact private school placement.
While regions will not be identical across all sports, expect a similar look. Right now, Tallassee is in a different area than Elmore County in baseball and softball - unlike football. That will likely be a thing of the past.