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Explainer: High school football district tiebreakers

Here's how to know if your favorite team will make it to the playoffs or not.

AUSTIN, Texas — With the regular seasons coming to a close in Texas high school football, it is time to look ahead to the playoffs.

Most teams will earn bids in a straightforward way, by finishing first through fourth in their districts. But in some cases, a tiebreaker will be needed to determine who gets those valuable postseason spots.

Here's a breakdown: 

In a two-way tie, going head-to-head is the tiebreaker: if Team A and Team B are tied for fourth place, but Team A won the regular season matchup between the two, Team A advances to the postseason.  

Things get trickier in a three-way tie:

Step One

Contests among the teams that are tied will be looked at as if it were a “mini-district.” The seeding will be determined first by head-to-head competition. 

For instance, if one team beat the other two, that team would be granted the first remaining spot. Then, the other two teams would be compared against one another (head-head). 

Whatever team beat the other would be granted the second remaining spot.

Step Two

If a tie exists between all three teams after ranking the teams in a “mini-district” format (Team A beat Team B, Team B beat Team C, Team C beat Team A), a “positive/negative point system” will be used to determine the highest ranking team. 

In this system, each district has a predetermined cap on how many points count toward this point system — in 25-6A the cap is 13, so a 29-16 win earns 13 points, just like a 65-0 win earns 13 points.

Once the tie-breaker enters into points, we will stay with points and not revert back to head-head for determining which schools qualify for playoffs. The highest two point totals advance.

In the case of forfeiture, for UIL purposes, the score will be recorded as 1-0 and for tiebreaker purposes, the score will be recorded as 13-0.

If the above procedures do not break a tie, the "positive/negative point system" will be used for all seven district games.

Step Three

If the point system applied to all seven district games doesn't break the tie, a coin flip will be used to determine who advances.

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