Are you ready for a new Far East High School Class AA football playoff format?

Both semifinals, a third-place game and the championship will now take place at the same location in November, instead of the rotating system used since the playoffs were implemented in 2005, DODDS-Pacific officials announced Wednesday.

The move will mean a cost savings, and also an end to a logistical nightmare for coaches, some of whom had to double-book airline and billeting reservations to two locations on short notice.

"This is especially difficult for Guam (High) because a $75 per person deposit is required when making flight reservations," DODDS-Pacific’s Far East Activities Council chair Don Hobbs said.

He said he’s looking to hold this year’s games on Okinawa. Japan’s Class AA champion, Seoul American and Guam High would arrive on Nov. 7, play semifinals on Nov. 9 and the third-place and title games on Nov. 14.

"The three traveling teams would remain on Okinawa to practice, study and maybe make a trip to a historical site on the island," Hobbs said.

The new format was discussed during the latest FEAC meeting May 18-19 on Okinawa and was approved after a meeting of DODDS-Pacific district superintendents earlier this month.

At least one coach greeted the news positively; most coaches are away on summer vacation and were not available for comment.

"Logistically, this is a lot better," said Sergio Mendoza of 2007 Class AA champion Kadena, which had to travel to Yokota and Seoul American in back-to-back weeks in 2006. "It was really tough to travel twice, flight, hotel; now, you only have to do it once."

That home teams won the past four Class AA titles can be blamed partly on the travel aspect, Mendoza said. "I think it was more teams having to travel than the home-field advantage," he said.

Making the experience partly cultural is icing on the cake, Mendoza said. "It will be a more enriching experience and less stressful for all the teams," he said.

The new format mirrors DODDS-Europe’s Super Eight, which features title games in all four divisions on the same day in the same location. The format has been in place since 2003, when it began as the Super Six.

"Our Super Six started when I looked up in the stands in a championship game and counted 150 people," said longtime coach Marcus George of Ansbach High in Germany.

"The kids deserved better. We average about 2,000 people for the day at the Super Six. Having teams at one location is a lot of fun. If parents know about it ahead of time, they will plan the trip."

The Class A football format remains as is, with Korea hosting the title game in odd-numbered years and Japan in even-numbered years.

But this year, three-time defending champion Robert D. Edgren will have company in Japan — because of a drop in enrollment, Zama American will also play at the Class A level; previously, Edgren was Japan’s lone Class A team.

The team with the best in-season record against each other goes to the championship, as is the case in Korea, where Osan American and Daegu American do yearly battle for DODDS-Korea’s Class A title game berth.

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Dave Ornauer has been employed by or assigned to Stars and Stripes Pacific almost continuously since March 5, 1981. He covers interservice and high school sports at DODEA-Pacific schools and manages the Pacific Storm Tracker.

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