High School football state playoffs are on, outline of basketball schedule released

Published: Sep. 24, 2020 at 6:45 PM AKDT
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The Alaska Schools Activities Association (ASAA), the governing body for high school sports in the state, held a board meeting Wednesday to determine state football playoff formats, the framework of a basketball schedule, among other topics.


After questions surrounding how teams would qualify, ASAA decided to move forward with state playoffs for Division I, Division II and Division III.


The Fairbanks North Star Borough School District is home to three DII football programs in the Lathrop Malemutes, the West Valley Wolfpack and the North Pole Patriots. One of those schools will be will appear in the playoffs, which will be determined by the district with head-to-head matchups as the main qualifier. So far, Lathrop has defeated West Valley, West Valley has defeated North Pole, while Lathrop and North Pole play each other Friday. There are three more games of the regular season, including this weekend’s contests.

One school from the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District will also qualify, which will be either the Soldotna Stars or the Kenai Central Kardinals as a second team.

In addition to one school from FNSBSD and one school from the Kenai District, a team from each of the Anchorage School District and the Matanuska-Susitna Borough School District will also qualify, making it a four-team playoff featuring four school districts. However, the lone DII school in ASD is Eagle River, while the only DII school in the Mat-Su District is Palmer. Due to this, Eagle River and Palmer receive automatic bids to the state playoffs.

“It’s a real wonky kind of way to get the teams into the playoffs, but I think it allows us to get the teams into the playoffs that should be playing for those championships," ASAA Executive Director Billy Strickland said via Zoom Thursday. "So how they got there is a little bit debatable, but I think we will get the right couple of schools there, which is ultimately, as good as we are going to be able to do this year.”

The first round of the Division II playoffs will begin on October 17. Eagle River will face the school selected from Kenai, while Palmer will take on the qualifying school from the Fairbanks School District. Hosting of the playoffs will be determined by a committee made up of one representative from each of the four districts and ASAA. It is very unlikely the state championship game (October 24) will be played at Anchorage Football Stadium as in years past, but rather at a high school that has been already implemented mitigation plans throughout the year.


The Division III state playoffs will feature six teams. Two schools from the Aurora Conference (Monroe, Eielson, Valdez) and two schools from the Peninsula Conference (Homer, Nikiski, Seward) will qualify for the playoffs determined by the districts. Houston and Redington will each receive automatic bids to complete the six-team field, with the number one seeds from the Aurora and Peninsula getting a first round bye. The number two seed from the Aurora will face Redington in the first round, while the number two from the Peninsula will take on Houston. Locations for the games are still to be determined, but the championship game will be played on October 24.


Questions surrounding the basketball season were also addressed in Wednesday’s meeting. The first practice for all classes (1A-4A) can begin on January 4 when most students return from winter break. After completing the mandatory 10 practices prior to competition, games may begin January 15. Conference tournaments are to be concluded by March 20 for 3A and 4A, with the state tournament ending on March 27. The seasons for 1A and 2A schools will wrap up on April 3. The state tournaments have been hosted at the Alaska Airlines Center since the facility opened in 2014, however, the tournaments will likely to be hosted by separate high schools to reduce the interaction between classes. Similar to wrestling, a basketball tournament can feature up to eight schools, which will likely be reduced this year.

“We may recommend lowering it down to no more than four schools involved,” Strickland said. “We think it is easier to mitigate that, you have less crowd, less issues with that. That is going to be under discussion quite a bit in our October board meeting."

The ASAA has scheduled their next board meetings for October 11-13.

Copyright 2020 KTVF. All rights reserved.

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