COURTESY OF SOUTHERN OHIO SPORTS AUTHORITY

If a plan by the Ohio High School Athletic Association announced Friday is allowed to move forward, high school football teams will be able to take the field the week of Aug. 24, meaning most openers will occur Aug. 28.

OHSAA announces plan for high school football

By DEL DUDUIT

Southern Ohio Today


     Local athletic directors and coaches will be scurrying to work out schedules following a recommendation from the Ohio High School Athletic Association announced Friday. The plan must still be supported by Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine.


     Under the plan, the regular season will begin the week of Aug. 24, meaning most openers would occur on Friday, Aug. 28. The playoffs for football would begin on Oct. 9 and the state championships would be played no later than Nov. 21.


     The abbreviated schedule is a result of concerns that COVID-19 might spike this winter.


     “The news came without any kind of warning,” said Minford High School Athletic Director Kristin Ruby. 

“Leagues will be working with each other over the next couple of days to determine how this impacts our schedules.”


     The OHSAA Board of Directors said the move to cut the season by at least four games is a “win-win” for all schools since it will not matter how many games each team played going into the playoffs.


     Waverly High School Athletic Director Bo Arnett said a shortened season is better than none at all.


     “I like the idea of all schools that want in the playoffs have a choice and you can play 10 games,” Arnett said. “I just want the players and coaches to have a season.”


     Instead of the computer ratings system determining which teams qualify for the playoffs, the coaches in each region will conduct a tournament seed meeting the week of Sept. 28 to form the regional bracket, similar to the process in other OHSAA team sports, according to a statement from the OHSAA.


     “Schools may keep their first six previously-scheduled games, but all regular-season football contracts are now voidable by either school, especially in the event that conferences redo their league schedules to fit into the first six weeks,” part of the statement read.


     The OHSAA will determine new playoff regions in September. Schools that are eliminated from the playoffs may continue to schedule regular-season games up until Nov. 14.


     “To both ensure we can offer students the opportunity to participate in education-based athletics but do so with their best interests in mind, we believe this modified plan offers a positive solution by addressing many of the concerns of our member schools,” said Jeff Cassella, president of the OHSAA Board of Directors and athletic administrator at Mentor High School. “Those that are able to start their seasons on time will be able to do so. Those that are starting later can still have a season. Add in the option of all schools entering the playoffs and the possibility of schools still being able to play 10 regular-season contests, and this plan is helpful to virtually all of our schools.”


     Schools that have paused sports could still begin their season in September or early October and compete in the playoffs.


     Schools are not required to enter the playoffs if they would prefer to play regular-season games up until Nov. 14.


     The highest number of responses to one of the questions posed of superintendents, principals and athletic administrators in a recent OHSAA membership survey indicated that nearly 60 percent (890 of 1,498 respondents) favored either reducing the regular season and maintaining full OHSAA tournaments or maintaining the full regular season and maintaining full OHSAA tournaments.


     A decision on spectators at contact sports has not yet been made. However, the OHSAA believes that — at a minimum — parents should be permitted to attend.

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