My dad was always a tinkerer.
 
You could find him many of his days in the garage fiddling with a part or a motor that needed fixing or made to work better.
 
Of course there were some failures, but when that child of the Depression succeeded, there was a sense of satisfaction of a job well done that no money could buy.
 
It’s great when a little tinkering produces great results. And though its early this high school football season, there’s been a change in the Region 4C playoff format that is producing the kind of excitement and simplicity that was the desired effect.
 
Region 4C, which encompasses the Class 4 Northwestern District and the Dulles District, came to the conclusion that it made no sense to use the prior system of power ratings to determine which teams made the playoffs.
 
That complicated system of points are earned by your victories, bonus points (your opponents’ victories) and classification points (determined by the classification of the opponent you are playing).
 
Casual fans do not want to have to use a calculator to figure out if their team will make the playoffs or not.
 
This season it’s pretty simple in Region 4C, which has the perfect set-up with two districts that are relatively the same size. The Northwestern District has eight Class 4 teams and the Dulles District has seven.
 
The plan is simple: Eight teams can make the regionals. Take the top four from each district.
 
Teams do not have to rely on the strength of their non-district schedule to enhance or detract from their playoff fates.
 
The goal is simply to win district games. Ties are broken by head-to-head results. In case of multiple ties where head-to-head is not applicable, then the calculators will determine things.
 
While it’s early in the Northwestern District season, coaches are well aware that no matter what the results were during non-district play, that there’s still a chance to make the postseason.
 
So far, Kettle Run (0-2) seems to be the only team that is a big longshot to make the postseason.
 
Millbrook (2-0), Handley (1-0) and Liberty (1-0) are the only unbeaten teams in district play. Sherando (1-1) and James Wood (1-1) are the only other teams who have district victories.
 
“It seems like everybody is in it,” Colonels coach Ryan Morgan said this week. “Everybody has just played one or two district games so there’s not much separation. It does seem pretty wide open. I have no idea how it is all going to sort out. We’re just trying to win one game at a time.”
 
 
Certainly, the district chase took an interesting turn last Friday as Millbrook rallied for a 42-31 win over defending district champion Sherando. It was only the second time since 2011 that a Winchester-Frederick County team had beaten the Warriors.
 
“Millbrook beating Sherando, it’s been a long time since an area team has beaten Sherando,” said Handley coach Dan Jones said. “It could happen on any given night. Sherando has beaten James Wood and James Wood is playing great. It’s definitely a jump ball. … Anybody can win this district.”
 
And that’s the kind of intrigue you want on Friday nights or Saturday afternoons. One outstanding effort or one stumble could determine who moves into the playoffs.
 
It’s easy to see.
 
Certainly Region 4C officials have stepped out on a limb with this format. Region 4C is the only region in any classification in the state that is using this system to qualify for the postseason.
 
But this is the kind of tinkering that already seems to be working. It just makes sense and it’s easy to follow. Win each week and you don’t need to worry about how many bonus points a previous opponent can get you.
 
Jones puts it plainly: “Every game now game now is an important game. Almost every game is a playoff game because you have to win to get in.”
 
That’s a job well done.
 
— Contact Walt Moody at
 
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