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Prepare to share, Lancers: Sunflower League rules make title tie likely
Nothing’s guaranteed, of course, but the stage is certainly set for SM East to secure its first Sunflower League football title since 1966 on Friday night. But due to an odd set of rules governing the Sunflower League championship, the Lancers ought to be prepared to share the spotlight with as many as three other teams.
Heavily favored as the head into the final game of the regular season against SM South, the 7-1 Lancers sit in a four way tie for first place in the Sunflower league with Olathe North, 7-1, Olathe East, 7-1…and SM West, 6-2. That’s right: despite the fact that the Vikings have two losses — including their loss to the Lancers last week — they are still in the hunt for a share of the title.
That’s because Sunflower League by-laws dictate that only the final seven league games of the season factor into deciding the league championship in even-numbered years. In odd-numbered years, it’s the first seven games of the season that count. As such, the Vikings’ season opening loss to Olathe North essentially doesn’t mean anything. Moreover, the Sunflower League doesn’t have any tie breakers, meaning that head-to-head losses to other first place teams don’t factor into the standings.
As such, shared conference titles have become run of the mill — though a four-way tie would be extraordinary.
“We’ve had lots of two-way ties and even some three-way ties,” said Shawnee Mission School District athletic director Rusty Newman. “But I don’t remember ever having the prospect of a four-way tie before.”
Newman said the schools in the conference talk about ways to simplify the system every year, but a set of rules dictated by the Kansas State High School Activities Association limit their options.
“It’s kind of a mess,” Newman said.
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