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District 5 not counting on UPJ as its championship host site

Q&A: Jeff Batzel

The Mirror’s Michael Boytim recently caught up with District 5 vice chairman and Northern Bedford athletic director Jeff Batzel to discuss the upcoming playoffs and how the district was impacted by member schools Forbes Road and McConnellsburg opting not to participate in winter sports this season. The Black Panthers boys basketball team is among the top contenders for a District 5 Class 2A title and defeated previously unbeaten Williamsburg last week.

Mirror: How tough was it as an athletic director and as a District 5 representative to deal with the holes in the schedule created by Forbes Road and McConnellsburg opting out?

Batzel: “I think we have had a lot of cooperation, especially from the other people in our league (the Inter-County Conference). We added a girls game with Glendale from the other ICC division. We added a boys game with Williamsburg, and we were also able to add Fannett-Metal a second time. We had adopted a league schedule where you were to play 12 of your 14 games in both the (ICC) North and South to get them all in with our late start date. We filled both games with league opponents, and the ICC has been very cooperative, and even outside the league.

“The entire District 5 and 6 region has worked together. There have been emails flying around, and I think people have had success filling dates. We helped Portage out with a boys game on a night that fell where we had an opening. The athletic directors in our region have done a phenomenal job.”

Mirror: What are the plans for the District 5 playoffs? When will they start, and what is the cutoff date for games to count toward playoff rankings?

Batzel: The cutoff date is Saturday, Feb. 27, and the playoffs are scheduled to start the next week. I would assume that unless the size of the fields is eight or more, which I don’t expect them to be with Forbes Road and McConnellsburg opting out, I don’t anticipate them starting until March 4 and March 5, but that has not officially been determined.”

Mirror: Traditionally, the District 5 championships are held at the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown. Many of the colleges are not hosting high school events this year. What are the plans for this year’s championship round?

Batzel: “No plans yet. They will hopefully be at neutral sites, but I don’t think UPJ is on the table as of right now. I know they could not and would not host any of the district wrestling or regional wrestling when asked so my understanding is, they are off the table, but we are planning on acquiring neutral sites, depending on the teams, within District 5.”

Mirror: Prior to the championship games, will the higher seeds be hosting?

Batzel: “Yes, the higher seeds will host through the semifinals and neutral sites, as long as we can get them, for the finals.”

Mirror: Will the brackets and process of putting together the brackets be the same?

Batzel: “We’re using the same rating system, but it’s only based on games played and based off the honor system this year. We didn’t have to submit schedules ahead of time like we normally do. It’s the same rating and seeding system, but we have determined this year because of teams like Berlin Brothersvalley that played a game in December and started back up in early January and has 18 or 20 games in and teams like Southern Fulton who just started and have only played about three games at this point, that it will be an open tournament. Anyone that opts to enter can enter, and they will be seeded based off our seeding system which is an average anyway. It’s the average of points accumulated divided by games played, and it’s fair to a team that plays six games or a team that plays 20 games.”

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