WIAA changes rules for football, volleyball

When the fall sports season rolls around this year, prep football and volleyball will have a new look.

The executive board of directors of the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association has approved changes that will allow, on a one-year basis, football practice to begin five days earlier than practices for other fall sports. The rule change will allow high school football programs to participate in a jamboree after the team has completed 10 practices and play their first football game on Sept. 5.

Prior to the change, schools had nine weeks to schedule up to 10 regular season games.

A new playoff format has also been approved.

In the past, the final regular season football game has always been a cross-over game between teams in the Narrows League Bridge and Bay divisions — with the top three in each division playing a winner-to-state, loser-out game.

Under the new rules, the cross-over game between the two divisions has been eliminated.

SK coach D.J. Sigurdson said the top three teams in the Bridge Division will play the top three teams from either the Greater St. Helens League, SPSL, or Kingco.

Non-playoff teams will no longer play the meaningless cross-over game.

Sigurdson said the cross-over game will be like a first round playoff game, meaning the state tournament will expand from a 16-team format to a 32-team format.

The new changes also allow teams to schedule a second non-conference opponent. Since the defunct Olympic League joined the Narrows League three years ago, South Kitsap has only been able to play one non-league game.

This fall, SK will play at Snohomish and is tentatively scheduled to host Bothell, a state quarterfinalist last fall.

Non-playoff teams will still play nine games, but the teams that place in the top three of their respective conferences will be guaranteed a 10th game.

The new time table for football will all but eliminate jamborees.

Sigurdson said he likes jamborees, but he likes the opportunity of playing a second non-league opponent even more —especially when he doesn’t coach against a wing-T offense.

“We see enough wing-T,” Sigurdson quipped. “At first I was skeptical because I like the jamboree and wanted to stick with it. But we get to play somebody different.”

Sigurdson said the WIAA’s changes were made for financial reasons.

Seahawks stadium is hosting a four-game event, which was scheduled before the rest of the teams in the state are eligible to play.

“It’s a fundraiser for Seattle Parks and Recreation,” he said. “But it wasn’t fair to have eight teams start while other teams can’t. They understood the situation, which is why they pushed up the start of practice five days.”

Sigurdson said the consensus among coaches is that it is a good thing.

“The one thing we didn’t want was to run the football season longer into basketball season,” Sigurdson said.

With the ever-growing costs of running the state semifinals and championship game at the Tacoma Dome, the WIAA has been looking for ways to save and make money.

“Money is the driver here,” Sigurdson said.

For volleyball, the WIAA executive board has approved changes at the high school level to reflect the same rules that apply to college volleyball.

To speed up and add excitement to the game, the NCAA implemented rally scoring—meaning points can be won on serve and side out—two years ago.

The teams now play to 30 points rather than 15 points.

A new position called “the libero” will also take into affect this fall.

The libero used to be known as a back row specialist.

The libero position allows for that “back row specialist” to remain in the game without having to substitute out.

The board also approved a change in the playoff format at the state tournament. The state tournament will still host 16 teams, but pool play has been eliminated.

Pool play was divided into four pools, with the top two teams in each pool advancing to the second day of competition.

The volleyball state tournament will now be a 16-team double elimination format.

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