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A plethora of playoff point possibilities

Every game really does matter in the new postseason points format.

One of the goals of the new points-based playoff system for football was to revamp a flawed district schedule.

Under the previous format, champions and runners-up were decided in the ninth game of the regular season, rendering the finale useless for securing a spot in the playoffs.

Now, every game matters.

Most district champions in Classes 8A-5A were decided last week. Every other playoff berth still will be determined by a team's average point total at the end of the regular season. Even the district champs are trying to accumulate a high average for seeding purposes.

On Sunday, the Florida High School Athletic Association will announce the playoff brackets in each classification during a show that will be streamed live at 11 a.m. on NFHSNetwork.com. The brackets will be posted afterward on fhsaa.org.

For coaches, especially those who did clinch district titles, this week is as much about crunching numbers as it is about devising game plans.

"It makes it interesting," Clearwater coach Don Mesick said. "There are some games this final week that I normally wouldn't care about."

The difference between making the playoffs and missing out can come down fractions of a point.

Take Class 7A, Region 3, for example.

Bloomingdale currently has an average of 34.89 points, good enough for the eighth and final wildcard spot heading into the regular-season finale. Not far behind are Durant (34.11), Countryside (33.3) and East Lake (33).

A win over Robinson on Friday would put the Bulls in a good position to clinch. A loss would give the other three in striking distance a chance to move ahead.

To get an idea of just how close the averages are consider that if East Lake were to beat Clearwater and the other three in contention were to lose, the Eagles would likely be in the playoffs as the final seed despite having to forfeit three games earlier this season because of an ineligible player.

But nothing will be decided solely on how a team performs Friday (or Saturday, as quite a few regular-season finales are slated this weekend as well).

After all, points are awarded based on an opponent's win-loss record. The better the record, the more points you can earn.

Trouble is, those points are not finalized until the end of the regular season.

And they can fluctuate. East Lake, for example, has five opponents on its schedule where a win or a loss on Friday would put them in a different category of possible points that can be earned.

The outcomes could be a difference in 25 overall points gained or lost for the Eagles.

The Tornadoes, who host East Lake, also need the points. Clearwater currently is the No. 6 seed but there is little margin for error.

Mesick spent two hours this past weekend putting together a spreadsheet with possible scenarios — and points. He has identified five in the region that matter and has tabbed someone to keep track of all the scores on Friday.

"There is only about a two-point difference that separates the No. 6-8 seeds," Mesick said. "But we have to worry the most about our own game. If we win, we're in the playoffs. I'm pretty confident about that."

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