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Tim Martinez: Week 10 in prep football will have a new look this fall

By Tim Martinez, Columbian Assistant Sports Editor
Published: May 6, 2024, 7:05pm

Every year since 2001, the La Center football team has advanced to the playoffs. At least in years when there was a postseason (the COVID season of the spring of 2021 had no postseason).

In the years since 2007, when the Wildcats played in the Class 1A level, Week 10 meant playing a District 4 crossover playoff.

Over those past 16 postseason in Week 10 district crossovers, the Wildcats have faced Elma five times, Forks three times, Tenino, Montesano and Hoquiam twice each and Eatonville once. In 2014, La Center received a bye from the Week 10 crossover.

But come Week 10 in 2024, the Wildcats could face someone completely different if they continue their postseason streak.

A new statewide Week 10 crossover has been adopted for Class 4A, 3A, 2A and 1A football, and it will take effect this fall, the Washington State Football Coaches Association announced last week.

“The WSFCA is grateful to the District Directors (of all nine WIAA districts) for their creation of the Week 10 agreements and for listening to the feedback from football coaches in (Washington),” the WSFCA executive board said in a statement. “We are excited to see the positive impact this has on football in our state.”

For teams in Class 3A, Week 10 won’t look any different. The 3A teams have been playing a statewide Week 10 crossover for several seasons, and their format survived as a roadmap for this new format for the other classifications. It was being pushed forward by the WSFCA.

The WIAA awards berths to the 16-team football state tournaments to each WIAA district proportionally based on the number of teams playing the sport in that district.

In football for 3A for the past decade, every district in the state pooled together their berths. Then 32 teams from around the state would face off in Week 10 to determine which 16 teams will play in the state playoffs.

Teams in 4A have followed a similar format, but the Week 10 crossovers only involved teams from the four districts on the west side of the Cascades. Beginning next fall, the crossovers will include the entire state.

Previously in 2A and 1A, state playoff berths were determined by Week 10 playoffs that were strictly within the same district.

For 2A GSHL teams, that meant playing teams like Tumwater, W.F. West or Aberdeen. In the 1A Trico, it meant playing the likes of Montesano, Hoquiam or Elma.

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Now, Week 10 playoffs could potentially be against anyone from around the state.

John Applegate, athletic director for the Lake Washington School District, will coordinate the Week 10 pairings with help from the District Directors and the WIAA seeding committees for each classification.

To be clear, these Week 10 games are not an expansion of the WIAA state tournaments from 16 to 32 teams. Instead, this will be 32 teams playing 16 games in Week 10 for berths into the 16-team state tournaments.

Winners of the Week 10 playoffs will be reseeded into their respective 16-team state playoff brackets after Week 10.

Playoffs for Class 2B and 1B will remain as they have been in the past.

It’s an exciting change that will change the landscape of the football postseason. It will give teams, and fans as well, a chance to see teams from other parts of the state that wasn’t previously possible.

For example, a Week 10 game between La Center against someone like Colville or Meridian feels a little bit more enticing than another Week 10 matchup with Elma.

At the very least, it will provide a better chance that when the 16-team state tournament fields are set, the teams in those fields might be a better reflection of what the best 16 teams in the state are.

And who can argue with that?