Written by Corbett Smith
Smith: Uncertainty can force coaches, ADs to juggle several playoff site possibilities
The uncertainty of the playoff picture is great drama for high school teams and their fans. It’s not so great, however, for athletic directors responsible for lining up playoff venues for their teams.
“With everybody jockeying for position, it sure makes finding sites a tough thing to do,” Richardson ISD athletic director Bob Dubey said.
The end-of-season rush to solidify locations is always hectic, with approximately 60 area games next weekend for the bi-district round.
Up-to-date facilities, stadium capacity, parking and rental cost are often on the minds of administrators, while coaches either want a place where their teams are comfortable or want to insure that neither team has played at the site recently, making for a true neutral site.
But above all, coaches and ADs want their teams and fans to have a good playoff experience.
“You want somewhere where it’s special, because for a lot of teams, it’s not going to last very long,” Plano ISD athletic director Gerald Brence said. “This will be one of the last football games a lot of these kids will ever play.”
Athletic directors and coaches start calling around for possible sites as early as three weeks before the end of the regular season attempting to predict agreeable neutral sites for potential playoff opponents.
Once the picture begins to solidify, districts quickly reach out to their counterparts, trying to hash out an agreement on the location and claim a spot.
“There’s always a bit of a sense of urgency [for stadiums] in that first weekend, and it filters down pretty quick after that,” Brence said.
The more possible opponents, though, the more options districts need to hold.
With several different scenarios pending in both of its 4A districts, Dallas ISD assistant athletic director Clint Roddy said his teams wouldn’t finalize venues until Saturday morning.
One of Dubey’s schools, Lake Highlands, has clinched District 9-5A’s top seed in the Division II playoffs. Sitting opposite a jumbled 10-5A, where everyone in a six-team district is still alive going into Friday’s games, Lake Highlands could play one of four opponents: Plano, Plano West, McKinney or McKinney Boyd.
Therefore, Dubey has two agreements heading into Friday night: both Plano schools have agreed on Coppell as a neutral site, while both McKinney schools have agreed to play in Plano.
District administrators aren’t just balancing their own teams’ schedules, though.
The larger districts, with playoff-caliber venues, field calls from around the region for their own stadiums.
Allen’s Steve Williams said he’s had great interest in his new $60 million stadium; Allen will host at least three games. Mesquite, an attractive location for East Texas teams playing against a Dallas area opponent, will have two Friday night games, athletic director Steve Bragg said.
Follow Corbett Smith on Twitter at @corbettsmithDMN.
Cowboys Stadium quadrupleheader taking shape
Even when a venue has long been secured, there are other options at play that need to be finalized. Administrators and coaches from Districts 5-5A and 6-5A met at Cowboys Stadium on Thursday morning to determine the schedule for a bi-district quadrupleheader for Saturday, Nov. 17, at Cowboys Stadium. Coppell will open with an 11 a.m. start against Irving or Irving MacArthur. Euless Trinity will follow at 2 p.m. against Flower Mound or Flower Mound Marcus. Several scenarios are still in play for the final two games at 5 p.m. and 8 p.m.