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Tiebreakers loom for many Pinellas teams

Ties are nice for Father's Day, not for football standings.

High school football teams in Pinellas could be all tied up by season's end.

If teams finish the season tied for first or second, the tie needs to be broken to determine who goes to the playoffs and who plays at home.

The top two teams in each district qualify for the state playoffs, which begin Nov. 18. The district winner gets a home-field advantage; the second-place team is always on the road.

With Clearwater's 42-14 thrashing of Tarpon Springs last week, the Class 5A, District 7 race seems destined for a three-way tie, with East Lake also involved. Someone will get knocked out. East Lake is gunning for its first-ever playoff appearance, Clearwater its first since 1978. Tarpon went last year.

Class 5A, District 8 is crazy, with five of the six teams still battling for a playoff spot. Unbeaten Dixie Hollins has the smoothest path. But the other four have legitimate chances to join the Rebels.

In Class 4A, District 8, River Ridge is much improved over last year and could cause a three-way tie by beating Osceola. The Royal Knights lost to Lakewood in overtime, and Osceola barely beat Lakewood last week.

In Class 2A, District 6, Shorecrest and Temple Heights are both undefeated, but Northside Christian and Lakeland Santa Fe Catholic are in range.

To break a tie There is an easy way to figure out tiebreakers _ finding out who-beat-who during the season. And there is a breathtaking way to do it _ in a "district shootout" on Monday, Nov. 14.

First, the easy way:

When two teams are tied, the advantage goes to the winner of the regular-season game between the two teams.

Three teams are tied? If one of those teams beat the other two during the season, it wins the tiebreaker.

Four teams tied? A shootout is used. But it's unlikely four teams will be tied in any of the Pinellas districts.

Now, for the shootout:

If three teams are tied and no one team beat the other two during the season, a shootout is needed.

The shootout can comprise one-quarter _ or "Kansas tiebreaker" _ competitions. The Kansas tiebreaker system is what is used to break ties after regular-season games. Each team gets four plays to score from the 10-yard line. If they stay tied after each having a turn on offense, they play another series of downs.

The Kansas tiebreaker is usually used in the shootout, unless a majority of the principals involved want quarters.

One team receives a bye and is the No. 1 seed in the shootout. The No. 1 seed plays in the shootout final against the winner of the contest between seeds 2 and 3.

If the shootout is to determine the district's second-place team, the winner of the shootout final is the second-place team.

If the shootout is for the district championship, the winner of the shootout final is the champion. If the No. 1 seed loses the final, it is not automatically the second-place team. It must play the loser of the first contest to determine second place.

District football outlook

Class 5A, District 7

Team W L

Tarpon Springs 3 1

Clearwater 3 1

East Lake 2 1

Dunedin 1 2

Springstead 1 3

Ridgewood 1 3

REMAINING KEY GAMES Nov. 4: Dunedin at Clearwater, Springstead at East Lake, Ridgewood at Tarpon Springs. Nov. 11: East Lake at Dunedin.

POSSIBILITIES _ Tarpon Springs can win the district with a Clearwater loss, or finish second with an East Lake loss.

East Lake can win with a Tarpon Springs loss, or finish second with a Clearwater loss.

Clearwater can win with an East Lake loss, or finish second with a Tarpon Springs loss.

If all three teams keep winning, they will play a shootout.

Class 5A, District 8

Team W L

Dixie Hollins 3 0

St. Petersburg 2 1

Gibbs 2 2

Boca Ciega 2 2

Largo 2 2

Pinellas Park 0 4

REMAINING KEY GAMES _ Nov. 4: St. Petersburg at Boca Ciega, Gibbs at Largo, Dixie Hollins at Pinellas Park. Nov. 11: St. Petersburg at Dixie Hollins.

POSSIBILITIES _ Dixie Hollins can win the district with two more wins, or one win and a St. Petersburg loss.

St. Petersburg can win the district with two more wins, or place second with a win over Boca Ciega and another Gibbs loss.

Boca Ciega can finish second if it beats St. Petersburg, and Gibbs beats Largo.

Gibbs can finish second if it beats Largo, St. Petersburg beats Boca Ciega, and Dixie beats St. Petersburg.

Largo can finish second if it beats Gibbs, and St. Petersburg loses twice.

A three-way tie for second place is possible, but unlikely.

Class 4A, District 8

Team W L

Osceola 2 0

Lakewood 2 1

River Ridge 1 1

CC Catholic 0 3

REMAINING KEY GAME _ Nov. 4: Osceola at River Ridge

POSSIBILITIES _ Osceola can win if it beats River Ridge.

Lakewood can finish second if Osceola beats River Ridge.

River Ridge can cause a three-way tie if it beats Osceola.

Class 2A, District 6

Team W L

Temple Heights 3 0

Shorecrest 2 0

Northside Christian 2 1

Santa Fe Catholic 1 2

Indian Rocks Chr. 0 2

Admiral Farragut 0 3

REMAINING KEY GAMES _ Friday: Northside at Indian Rocks, Temple Heights at Shorecrest. Nov. 4: Indian Rocks at Shorecrest; Nov. 5: Admiral Farragut at Santa Fe; Nov. 11: Shorecrest at Northside, Santa Fe vs. Temple Heights.

POSSIBILITIES _ Shorecrest can win the district by beating Temple Heights and Northside. Shorecrest can finish second if it loses to one of those teams and the other team has two losses.

Northside can win the district if it wins two more games, and Temple Heights loses two games. Northside can finish second if it wins two games and Temple Heights beats Shorecrest.

Temple Heights can win the district if it beats Shorecrest. If it loses to Shorecrest, Temple Heights can finish second if it beats Santa Fe, and Northside loses to Shorecrest.

All kinds of three-way tie possibilities exist: Shorecrest, Northside and Temple Heights for first; Northside, Temple Heights and Santa Fe for second, etc.

_ KEVIN THOMAS

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