Washington football shake-up: New 'round of 32' playoff format unveiled

Eatonville's Dylan Norman tackles and forces a fumble against Bellevue Christian.

Eatonville's Dylan Norman tackles and forces a fumble against Bellevue Christian.
Courtesy Trinity Potter

There will be a new path to the state tournament this football season for the Eatonville Cruisers. In an effort to make the WIAA football tournament more equitable, athletic directors from the six districts in Washington have approved a statewide round-of-32 playoff format for Week 10.

The Washington State Football Coaches Association announced Friday that district directors have approved a "Round of 32" format for Week 10 in Class 4A, 3A, 2A and 1A. Just like the old district playoff format, winners of the Round of 32 games would qualify for the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association's state tournament, with the losers being eliminated.

Eatonville’s Head Coach Rex Norris expressed his views on the changes, acknowledging their intention to elevate the level of competition. 

“The changes that have been made are meant to bring the top teams to the playoffs. That in itself is a good proposal,” said Coach Norris. 

However, he also pointed out potential drawbacks, indicating a nuanced perspective on the shift. 

"I am not sold on the fact that it doesn't have its own drawbacks," he added.

Despite any reservations, Norris highlighted the significance of collective decision-making in the process. 

"The one thing that makes it doable is that the coaches voted for it," he emphasized. "Good or bad, it is what was asked for."

For Eatonville, the paramount concern remains the opportunity to compete at the highest level. 

"At the end of the day, what is good for Eatonville is the opportunity to compete and challenge ourselves," Norris said. "We talk all the time about playing to a high standard. If you can do that, then you can be proud of what you do and your contribution.”

Norris's sentiments echo the ethos of sportsmanship and striving for excellence. In the midst of structural changes, the core values of competition and personal growth remain central to Eatonville's football program. As the team prepares to navigate the new playoff format, their commitment to upholding these values will undoubtedly guide their journey on the gridiron.

The WSCA stated that district directors and WIAA seeding committee members will work with Lake Washington School District athletic director John Applegate to determine the Week 10 matchups, and winners will be reseeded by committees prior to state tournament play. 


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