Two other significant changes are in store for football. The bigger is the expansion of the schedule to 11 weeks in which teams can play 10 games. The extra week comes during what was traditionally used for jamboree games; schools may continue to do that, or play a regular game and take a bye week later in the season. This change allows schools adjoining other states like Georgia, where the season begins a week earlier, to play teams across state lines more easily.
The other change involves the tiebreaker system for playoff spots, particularly the criteria which disallows games played against teams in a lower class to count in a tiebreaking procedure. The criteria has been changed to allow classes up to two classes lower to count, so that a 6A team playing against a 5A — for instance, 6A Gardendale vs. 5A Jordan — will now figure into a tiebreaker equation.
All other sports that have championships for all six classes will expand to seven; this includes basketball, baseball and softball.
Wrestling will undergo significant changes. Championships will now be grouped for Classes 7A, 6A and 1A through 5A. The two larger classes will use eight-man brackets at the state finals, while 1A-5A will go to 16. Previously, 6A had a 16-man bracket, with 1A-4A and 5A having eight men.
Soccer will expand to 1A-4A, 5A, 6A and 7A. There will be area play in 5A and 7A, with the top two teams advancing to the first sub-state round. Sectional play with four advancing teams will be used for 1A-4A and 6A.
Great effort was taken to keep schools in a region or area as close to each other as possible, Savarese said. The AHSAA has long employed the services of Cody Kirkpatrick, a native of Hackleberg who's now a professor at Indiana University. Kirkpatrick uses the enrollment list of member schools to map prospective regions and areas, and then the AHSAA staff works with that data to adjust the boundaries to hold down travel.