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Gone are the familiar leagues that structured how 5A football playoff brackets were decided

SPOKESMAN FILE PHOTO - Wilsonvilles football team hopes to make another run at a state title this fall, but the path to get there will be different under a reorganized Class 5A. Wilsonville's football team has been one of the best in the state at the Class 5A level in recent years. The Wildcats made it at least to the semifinals of the state playoffs each of the last three years,

and hope to continue that trend in the upcoming fall season.

Getting into the playoffs this year will be a little different than it has in the past, though. With the redesign of the state's 5A football leagues into three special districts, Wilsonville finds itself outside the familiar trappings of the Northwest Oregon Conference for the first time since 2005. Instead, the football team will be competing in Special District 1, alongside 13 other teams.

Among those teams are familiar faces including St. Helens, Putnam, Parkrose and other former NWOC teams. Also joining the Special District 1 fray are four teams dropping down from the 6A level — Benson, Cleveland, Forest Grove and Wilson.

Special District 1 will send six teams to the postseason, while the other two special districts will send five each due to a lower number of teams competing in those respective districts. Teams qualify for the postseason through league playoffs and the OSAA's power rankings.

According to the OSAA website, the RPI and Colley ranking systems are used to calculate a team's rank. The RPI ranking is "primarily a measurement of strength of schedule and how a team does against that schedule." The Colley system is "based on winning percentage, which is adjusted for a team's strength of schedule."

Last fall, league champions and three other teams from each of the four conferences (the NWOC, the Mid-Willamette Conference, the Midwestern League and a different Special District 1) qualified for the playoffs. Now, it will be the top six ranked teams from Special District 1, and the top five teams from Special Districts 2 and 3.

Another interesting development this postseason is that defending 5A state champions Hermiston will no longer compete in Oregon. The Bulldogs will play this fall against Washington schools to cut down on travel time and expense. Hermiston was the team that knocked the red-hot Wilsonville football team out of the playoffs last year. Should Wilsonville get back to the playoffs this season, the title will be up for grabs.

It's an exciting time to watch 5A football, and while the familiar leagues are gone for the time being, there is still plenty to keep an eye on.

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