The 32 football programs in the newly created Class 6A now have a map for plotting their course to a state championship.

On Tuesday, the Minnesota State High School League Board of Directors unanimously approved a playoff format for Class 6A beginning in 2012.

The 32 teams are divided into four sections, and the section quarterfinals will feature the No. 1 seeded team playing the No. 8 seeds, 2 vs. 7 and so on

Next, the four remaining teams in each section will square off in predetermined section crossover games.

The eight winning teams will then be the state tournament field, and those teams will be seeded 1-4 by coaches’ votes. The remaining four teams will be selected by blind draw.

The section lineups look like this:

SECTION 3: Burnsville, Eagan, Eastview, Lakeville North, Lakeville South, Park, Prior Lake, Rosemount.

SECTION 4: Cretin-Derham Hall, Forest Lake, Mounds View, North St. Paul, Roseville, Stillwater, White Bear Lake, Woodbury.

SECTION 5: Anoka, Blaine, Brainerd, Centennial, Champlin Park, Coon Rapids, Maple Grove, Osseo.

SECTION 6: Armstrong, Eden Prairie, Edina, Hopkins, Minneapolis South, Minnetonka, Shakopee, Wayzata.

There is a Pandora’s Box element to the new format. In every other team sport, a section with several top teams could produce only one state qualifier. Not so now in football. The new format allows, for example, Section 6 heavyweights Eden Prairie, Minnetonka and Wayzata to all reach the state tournament.

So will other sports petition for a new playoff format?

The full release, written by MSHSL Media Specialist John Millea, is below.

DEERWOOD -- The MSHSL Board of Directors held its August meeting at Ruttger’s Conference Center here Tuesday, and football grabbed the headline.

During a meeting that contained plenty of boilerplate board material, the members voted unanimously to approve a playoff format for Class 6A football. The new division will begin play in 2012.

The 32 Class 6A teams will be split into four sections, with eight teams in each section. (Sections are listed below.) For the first round of playoffs, each section will seed its teams 1 through 8. After the first round of games have been played, the four winning teams from each section will be matched with the top four from a different section by random draw; higher seeds will play lower seeds, with higher seeds being the home team.

Those section-to-section pairings will rotate every two years. After two rounds of games, eight teams will advance to the state quarterfinals and be seeded under the current format, with coaches voting to seed the top four teams and a blind draw deciding their opponents from the remaining four.

The 6A state quarterfinals will be played under the same timetable as quarterfinals in other classes. The 6A state semifinals will be played at the Metrodome on the Thursday evening prior to the traditional Friday-Saturday semifinals.

The 6A championship game will be played on Friday night of Prep Bowl weekend.