Today's the first day of district playoffs for this school year, and that must mean it's time for my annual "what they did wrong now" column.
Let's start with a couple oldies but goodies: playoff seeding and cutoff dates.
For the second year in a row, Indian Valley is the No. 2 team in District 6 Class AA field hockey, despite the fact that the Warriors play a schedule that no other playoff team in the district can match. Yes, coach Tish Maclay will tell me, she'd rather play a game Thursday than have a week off - and I understand that.
At the same time, neither Huntingdon nor Forbes Road is signing up to play non-league opponents like Donegal and Selinsgrove, both perennial favorites for a state title who account for blemishes on Indian Valley's record this fall.
Yes, any of the three teams could win the district title - nothing is guaranteed. But I still think the Warriors deserve better.
In District 4 - where East Juniata and Midd-West play - I just wish we could get a bracket more than 15 minutes before the first game.
OK, I'm exaggerating - the field hockey pairings were out Sunday morning, and the soccer that night. But that's three and four days later than the other two districts in which we have teams.
District 4's position is that the seeding should not be done until every game is played, so every game counts. As Col. Potter used to say on "M*A*S*H," horsehockey. There were only a small number of games left after Thursday, a couple makeups, and I'll bet few of them impacted the playoffs at all.
It's not fair to the kids, the coaches, the parents, the officials - well, to pretty much everybody but the proverbial powers that be - when the district committee waits until the last second to put together its playoff bracket.
I will give District 4 kudos for working to make sure two teams from the same school have a chance at the same site in the playoffs, even though that means waiting longer to find out when and where the games will be after each round.
District 4 welcomes a new soccer chairman this year, as Sullivan County's Hal Stockdill - who admirably ran the tournament for many years - hands the reins to Glenn Fogel. Fogel, today associated with Mifflinburg, is a familiar name to some in The Sentinel's coverage area - his playing days were at West Snyder High School.
Fogel stands as the only official who's ever ejected me from a PIAA sporting event - a misunderstanding nearly 10 years ago. I still get a laugh telling the story. But that's for another day.
While I'd be the first to raise my own argument about seeding, District 6 apparently believes it doesn't have to follow its own rules for some schools.
Belleville Mennonite's boys soccer team is the fourth seed in its bracket, and therefore has earned the right to host No. 5 Penns Valley, the last to qualify. But instead the game will be in Spring Mills.
I can assume that's because the Mifflin County school does not have lights, and the district wants to play the games at night. Then play it at a neutral site - or just play it in the afternoon, and let the deserving team have the home game.
Several football teams that just a couple weeks ago were still mathematically in the running for the postseason have seen that door of opportunity swing shut. District 6's Lewistown, Juniata and Mount Union will all be calling it a season after Nov. 5, as will East Juniata in District 4.
That leaves Indian Valley, which will need some help to get in - with Bellefonte's win over Central Mountain, the Red Raiders can clinch the second and final spot in District 6 Class AA by winning either of its last two games. Indian Valley not only must win out, but must hope the team from Centre County takes losses from both of its last two.
The two currently are 130 points apart, a distance the Warriors can close only with wins over both Central Mountain (120 points) and Central (80). But a win over either Clearfield or Bald Eagle Area pushes Bellefonte out of reach.
Finally, congratulations to Lewistown, which will make its first playoff appearance in school history in volleyball. But the rumor is the Panthers will be forced to play on Saturday, when any number of fans would rather be watching college football. Last year, the tournament played entirely on weeknights.
Jeff Fishbein is sports editor of The Sentinel. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.