The football postseason will look vastly different this fall across the state of Minnesota.
As a flood of high schools transition into distance learning, and prepare to shut down after-school activities, there's simply not enough time for the traditional three-round section playoffs.
Locally, that means the Faribault football team will not be fully participating in the Section 1-4A playoffs, and instead just playing what's serving as a third-place game. Byron and Kasson-Mantorville will also play Tuesday, Nov. 17, for the section title, Faribault and Red Wing will battle for third place, while Winona and Albert Lea are both unable to participate in the postseason.
This comes after the most successful regular season for the Falcons since 2014 — when they finished 6-2 before claiming the Section 1-5A title to advance to the state tournament.
It's a similar situation in Section 1AA, where only four of the six teams are able to play in the postseason. That means Kenyon-Wanamingo, which was awarded the No. 3 seed after missing its final two regular-season games due to COVID-19, will travel Tuesday, Nov. 17, to play at second-seeded Triton.
The winner of that game will play the winner of top-seeded Chatfield and fourth-seeded Lewistown-Altura at 1 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 21 — a week before the section trophy was initially scheduled to be awarded. Plus, Class AA No. 1-ranked Caledonia, the heavy favorite, is not playing after its school board elected to shut down after-school activities and pausing the football team's 71-game winning streak.
Section 2A, meanwhile, will play what looks like close to a normal postseason.
The eight-team section will contest four quarterfinal games Tuesday, Nov. 17, with top-seeded Gibbon-Fairfax-Winthrop hosting eighth-seeded Waterville-Elysian-Morristown, fourth-seeded United South Central hosting fifth-seeded Bethlehem Academy, second-seeded Minnesota Valley Lutheran hosting seventh-seeded Alden-Conger/Glenville-Emmons and third-seeded Cleveland hosting sixth-seeded New Ulm Cathedral.
The semifinals will be played Saturday, Nov. 21, and the championship Friday, Nov. 27.