Alex Ozuna oversees the sport of lacrosse for the Florida High School Athletic Association and he was gracious enough to allow me to pose some questions to him to clarify some of the questions I’ve been hearing from our readers. Here’s his responses:
1) Must a school play all the District teams they are assigned to?
All teams must play their district opponents at least once during the regular season. The district regular season matches determine the seed for the end of the season district tournament.
2) Outside of district, are there any limits on how many 1A teams a 2A can play?
There is no limit on the amount of games a 1A school can play 2A school or vice versa. During the regular season, each team has a season limitation of 18 games and a district requirement of playing their district member at least once, outside of that their schedule is open to any opponent regardless of class designation.
3) Will only District winners qualify to play in the FHSAA tourney?
Only one district winner will advance to the regional tournament, starting with the regional semifinal round.
4) Other sports have at-large bids into the FHSAA tournaments for those who did not win their District, why not lacrosse?
When the playoff restructuring took place, the FHSAA Board of Director approved the restructuring for specific team sports. These sports included: Football, Girls Volleyball, Boys and Girls Basketball, Boys and Girls Soccer, Baseball and Softball. The team sports which were not included into the playoff restructuring were Flag Football, Boys and Girls Lacrosse, Boys Volleyball and Water Polo. One of the main reasons these sports were not included in the playoff restructuring was due to the current lack of appropriate ranking systems available for the sport. Moving forward, the plan is to eventually have all the team sports using the same playoff structure, but this adjustment would not take place until two years from now, at the earliest.
5) Will the extra games mean that lacrosse will have their own location (12 games total between Boys and Girls)?
Author’s Note: One thing I did not pose to him was how the Districts were put together. From my review of them it seems simply as geographically close as they could to make the Districts as evenly numbered as they could, albeit with some decisions that could have been done differently. I have harped on the possibility that extra travel cost would be an unintended consequence of 2 classes replacing 1 and at first glance that does seem to be an issue in some areas as some programs have noted to me that there were possible adjustments to consider to cut some travel down.
One thing I hope Gainesville really keeps an eye on is whether programs that have not had as much success at the sport to date do not use this as an excuse to reduce their emphasis on the sport, whether that be moving back from Varsity to Independent status, or even elimination of the program altogether because of the added cost. If that happens I would hope that the FHSAA would take note and be open to adjustments since this approach is being sold to the lacrosse community as being geared towards growing the sport.
As we go along I will be looking to flesh out more of the decision-making process that went into this and see if we can bring further knowledge on how it came to be.