This one's a sure bet - Tuesday's preliminary playoff game between Bonneville and Weber is guaranteed to go to two overtimes. Maybe even three.
How can we be so sure? It's the tiebreaker playoff system being tested this year by Region 1 when its teams have tied for the league's final berth in the state prep football touranment.An explanation of the new-fangled format in a moment. But first, here's a look at the disadvantages of the playoffs required to break ties and determine state tournament berths.
- Preliminary playoffs mean that teams play Tuesday or Wednesday, with the winner earning the right to play again later that weekend in the first round of the state tournament. In others words, the winner of the preliminary playoff faces a two-games-in-the-same-week grind.
- Not only does the winning team have to play a second game, but it faces a top-seeded team from another region - a stronger league-championship opponent.
- Head-to-head results of the regular-season matchup between the two teams in the preliminary playoff are essentially discarded. The team that beat the other is afforded no benefit for the regular-season triumph, such as a home-field advantage for the qualifying playoff, with the participating teams square off at a neutral site.
Most 3A and 4A regions play a full game between the two tied teams to break the tie. One league - Region 7 - uses head-to-head regular-season competition to break the team. Ironically, Region 7 experienced a rare three-way tie between Carbon, Wasatch and Uintah for the final 3A playoff berth and there was no head-to-head advantage - each of the teams beat one and lost to the other.
The result in Region 7 will be a demented prep doubleheader of sorts, with two teams playing one half, with the winner facing the third team in the second half. The second-half winner becomes the playoff-bound region representative.
Now, back to the Region 1 playoff format. Rather than have the teams play a full-fledged game, the league's coaches opted for playing three equivalents of an overtime.
Bonneville and Weber will each have a four-down possession at their opponent's 10-yard line. The first team will try to score a touchdown and one- or two-point conversion or settle for a field goal in the four-down limit, with the defense hoping to force a turnover or stop the offense on downs. After the first team has been afforded its opportunity, the second team will be given four downs to match or better the result of the first.
The overtime can go as many possessions at necessary until a winner is decided - the Bountiful-Layton game this year required five OT possessions for both teams and was labeled as a "five-overtime" victory for the Braves.
As for the Region 1 playoff, the winner is the first team that wins two overtimes. Remember, this is a matter of semantics - it becomes a best-two-of-three overtimes series, not just OT possessions.