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Here we are in year three of our FLS Varsity Student Section Challenge and after seeing participation grow last year, we’re expecting even more growth for this year’s edition.

We’ve reviewed the last two years of competition to look for ways to improve for this year and we think we’ve found a good setup.

This season, we will be including all 21 Fredericksburg-area schools that have a football team, whether they have a dedicated supporters group Twitter account of not. We think all fans will be able to find us and vote for their school, even if there’s no Twitter account for the school’s supporters.

Here’s how this year’s challenge will work:

1) For the first seven weeks, there will be no head-to-head bracket competition and schools will instead be ranked according to their vote totals. In each of those seven rounds, the lowest vote-getter(s) will be eliminated, starting with one team in the First Round and then eliminating two each week for the next six weeks. We felt this would be the fairest way to reward those schools whose fans participate the most.

Here’s a breakdown of how many teams will be eliminated in each of those seven rounds:

First Round: 1 school eliminated—20 schools advance

Second Round: 2 schools eliminated—18 schools advance

Third Round: 2 schools eliminated—16 schools advance

Fourth Round: 2 schools eliminated—14 schools advance

Fifth Round: 2 schools eliminated—12 schools advance

Sixth Round: 2 schools eliminated—10 schools advance

Seventh Round: 2 schools eliminated—8 schools advance

2) Once down to the final eight, those schools will then be seeded 1-8 based on total number of votes from each of the previous seven rounds. i.e., the team with the highest total will be the No. 1 seed and the team with the lowest total will be the No. 8 seed in a bracket format. The winners advance and losers are eliminated, based on votes cast each week.

The bracket will be set up with the following match-ups:

Quarterfinals: 1st vs. 8th, 2nd vs. 7th, 3rd vs. 6th, 4th vs. 5th (4 schools advance, 4 schools eliminated)

Semifinals: 1st/8th winner vs. 4th/5th winner, 2nd/7th winner vs. 3rd/6th winner (2 schools advance, 2 schools eliminated)

Final: Semifinals winners

3) Voting for ALL rounds will start from zero each week.

We are set to begin this year’s challenge at the beginning of the second scheduled week of the high school football season, running Aug. 31–Sept. 6. Voting for each round will begin on Saturday and run through Friday’s games, closing at midnight each Friday.

We will then get those results and the following round’s voting posted on fredericksburg.com as soon as possible after our Friday-night deadline has passed, to be available to view and begin voting again on Saturday.

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—Tom Leiss

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