With the introduction of the Ratings Percentage Index this year, the KHSAA football playoffs will look a little bit different in 2019.
With the change to an RPI-based format, the first and second rounds are now contested solely between district opponents. Each regular-season district winner hosts the fourth seed, and the second-place finisher hosts the third-place team. The highest remaining seed serves as the second-round host.
After that, however, is when things start to get interesting.
Instead of a straight start-to-finish bracket, the third round of the playoffs is where the RPI -- based on calculations that factor in winning percentage, opponents' winning percentage and opponents' opponents' winning percentage -- comes into play.
The quarterfinals are separated between the 1st-4th Districts in the top half of the bracket and the 5th-8th Districts in the bottom half, with the second-round winners in each grouping re-seeded one through four based on RPI. Again, the higher seed hosts.
Once in the semifinals, the four remaining squads are again re-seeded based on RPI. The state championship matchups are slated for Dec. 6-8 at Kroger Field in Lexington.
So, with that in mind, what do the postseason paths for area teams look like?
Owensboro Catholic (.644) enters the postseason with the sixth-best RPI -- but just the fifth among the 1st-4th Districts.
See RPI/Page B2
As winners of the 2nd District, the Aces will host Todd County Central and then the winner of McLean County-Hancock County.
For the Aces to host a quarterfinal game, they would need any three of Lexington Christian, Mayfield, Somerset and Caldwell County to lose in the first two rounds.
Among other 2-A programs, McLean County (17th, .543) will host Hancock County (26th, .413) in the first round, but both would likely play any remaining postseason contests away from home.
For Owensboro High School (.662 RPI), which finished fourth in Class 5-A -- but the best among the 1st-4th Districts -- it means home-field advantage through at least the first three rounds of the playoffs. If the Red Devils beat Muhlenberg County and then the winner of Graves County-Grayson County, it sets OHS up to host what will likely be the winner between powerhouses Bowling Green and South Warren in the quarterfinals.
After that, however, the Red Devils would hit the road unless any two of Covington Catholic (.704), Frederick Douglass (.681) and Scott County (.667) lose along the way.
If Muhlenberg County (26th, .433) were to upset OHS, the Mustangs would be on the road for the rest of the playoffs.
Daviess County will travel to take on Henderson County, with Apollo hitting the road to face McCracken County. Wins by DC and Apollo would set the City-County rivals up for a rematch at Reid Stadium in the second round.
However, if either of the two were to advance past the second round, both DC (15th, .512) and Apollo (21st, .467) would likely play the remainder of their games on the road.