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Cathie Rowand | The Journal Gazette
Carroll players, filling out information sheets at Friday’s media day, will play in the newly formed Class 6A in the football playoffs this year.

Teams ready to tackle new-look playoff format

– Northrop football coach Tim Martone had an interesting perspective when talking about the changes in the IHSAA playoff format, including the addition of a sixth class.

“The good thing is we don’t have to play North Side two weeks in a row,” Martone said Friday during the 2013 Northeast Indiana Media Day at North Side.

Northrop, which will be one of four area teams – with Carroll, Homestead and Warsaw – to play in the sixth class this season, has lost to SAC rival North Side the last two years in back-to-back games in the regular-season finale and the sectional opener.

The new 6A is part of recently implemented changes to the postseason that also includes a success factor that bumps a school up a class if it accumulates six points in two years because of winning in the postseason.

Only Bishop Luers and its four consecutive 2A state championships are affected in northeast Indiana by the success factor.

“I think it has some merit,” first-year Luers coach Kyle Lindsay said of the success factor. “It is hard to say right now how it is all going to turn out. Quite frankly, it is where we should be at this point. I think it will create some excitement around the state.”

Of the five state champions last year, four have been elevated to a higher class.

“Getting bumped up to 3A is just extra motivation for us to get back to Indy and prove it doesn’t matter what class we are in, we are still going to be a great football team,” Luers senior quarterback Quinn Cook said.

The changes also bring different possible playoff opponents.

“It certainly changes the playoffs, but it is not something that we don’t talk about at all,” said Snider coach Kurt Tippmann, who was part of the Indiana Football Coaches Association committee that proposed the changes to the IHSAA. “We will look forward to playing teams you don’t play every year, but that also brings some uncertainty and unfamiliarity with what they do. That’s a down side of it.”

The Panthers remain in 5A after falling in the state championship game last year.

Some, particularly those in 6A, approach the changes as no change at all.

“In our perspective, it really doesn’t change much because the two teams previously in the north that you had to pass through, being Penn and Merrillville for us, they are 6A programs,” Carroll coach Doug Dinan said.

Those schools that moved up to 6A will still play the biggest schools, so there isn’t a difference.

“The teams that (stayed in 5A), it will have more of an effect on because they don’t see 4,000-student schools from Indy,” Homestead coach Chad Zolman said. “We still have to see those schools. As far as preparation, we are trying to get ready for those schools. That’s the goal every year.”

The new Class 6A brings with it IHSAA postseason format changes that put 32 teams in the sixth class and 32 teams in 5A. Because of the four-team sectionals in the top two classes, a bye week was created after the semistate to allow the rest of the four classes to catch up.

“We are used to a three-game sectional,” Zolman said. “I guess the hardware is on the line in Week 2 if you get there. Where they put the bye makes sense to me. It gives you two weeks to prepare for the state championship game if you can get there.”