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Future prep football playoffs could be changed in two ways

The prep football season is over, but it remained a topic of conversation Thursday at the latest New Mexico Activities Association board meeting.

There was sort of a two-pronged discussion on Thursday – one focused on the quality of the facilities hosting playoff games and another (and less) on give and take over whether higher-seeded players might be involved with hosting postseason games allowed to start any round and not just through to the quarterfinals.

That second point didn’t have much traction on Thursday.

“It’s two things,” said NMAA associate director Dusty Young, the organization’s lead footballer. “From the community side, the viewer side, the question of the higher seed is paramount. From the schools’ point of view, it’s more about the equipment.”

Young said the majority of schools do not want to deviate from the current format, where history dictates who hosts semifinals and league games. He added that in recent years, a growing number of coaches have spoken out about certain locations “not performing to the caliber of setting up a league game.”

Sally Marquez

NMAA executive director Sally Marquez said there were some examples — she declined to identify locations — of schools hosting state playoff games in locations that just didn’t meet a standard. As examples of problems, she cited heating issues, a lack of ADA compliance, and portable toilets that aren’t easily accessible.

“Something needs to be done at some facilities,” she said.

Marquez said one option going forward is to move a playoff game to a more suitable field, as close as possible to the host school — if the host team’s facility is found to be inferior.

Second, Marquez admitted that her office had received some negative feedback from communities about the NMAA’s playoff format, particularly this year. On the final day of the season, the higher seeded traveled in all four championship games (Grades 3A-6A), although it was at one of those four Cleveland Highs in Rio Rancho that traveled to Albuquerque. Jal, the No. 1 in 2A, also had to travel for his league game.

“How do we explain to the parents of (players) why their team is traveling?” said Márquez. “The complaints come back to us. Which is fine, but we don’t know what to do about it.”

Is a change imminent? Probably not. But there could be movement to take a real home game away from someone if a venue lacks the right amenities.

“It’s the most talked about since I’ve been in the NMAA,” Marquez said.

As for the NMAA template “past,” it has long generated lively back-and-forth. For example, when No. 1 Artesia met No. 5 Deming in the Class 5A semifinals two weeks ago, the game was played in Deming. Why? Because the last time the schools met in the semifinals or later, it was in Artesia — in the mid-1970s.

SOCCER PARTICIPATION: About 4,500 tickets were sold for last Saturday’s Cleveland-La Cueva Class 6A title game at Wilson Stadium, Young said Thursday.

The total was approximately 3,700 for Artesia-Piedra Vista at Hutchison Stadium in Farmington for the 5A Final, approximately 2,000 tickets for the Silver-at-Bloomfield 4A Championship Game and 1,800 for the Ruidoso-St. Michaels 3A Finals at Ivan Head Stadium at Santa Fe High. But the state soccer playoffs sold about 14,000 fewer tickets this year than last year, mostly due to declines in the larger divisions.

ALSO: Among the actions approved by the NMAA Board of Directors Thursday was a change to the state’s baseball format. Instead of the higher-seeded team only being the home team in the quarterfinals, the higher-seeded now has the last at-bat in the semifinals and league game as well.

A coin toss was used to determine the last team in the semifinals and finals.

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