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OHSAA plans to move up football playoff schedule

High School Sports

COLUMBUS, OH (WOWK) – The Ohio High School Athletic Association says if high school football games are approved by Gov. Mike DeWine, the season could be shortened.

The OHSAA says teams will begin playoffs Oct. 9, and the state championship will be played no later than Nov. 21. The regular season is currently scheduled to start Aug. 24.

The decision comes following a recommendation from DeWine’s office due to concerns of a COVID-19 spike in the winter.

The OHSAA Board of Directors approved the proposal with a 9-0 vote. They say it is a ” win-win situation for all schools” as it will not matter how many games each team has played leading up to the playoffs.

According to the proposal, the coaches in each reason will have a tournament seed meeting the week of Sept. 28 to form a regional bracket instead of the computer ratings system normally used in determining which teams qualify for the playoffs.

The OHSAA says schools may keep their first six previously scheduled games, but all regular-season football contracts are now voidable by either school, especially if conferences redo their league schedules to fit into the first six weeks.

The new playoff regions will be determined in September, and schools eliminated from the playoffs may continue to schedule regular-season games until November 14.

Schools that have decided not to host sporting events, for the time being, could still begin their season in September or early October and compete in the playoffs, according to the OHSAA. Schools are not required to enter the playoffs and may choose to play regular-season games up until November 14.

“To both ensure we can offer students the opportunity to participate in education-based athletes 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.”

In a recent OHSAA survey of superintendents, principals and athletic administrators, nearly 60% favored either reducing the regular season and maintaining full OHSAA tournaments or maintaining the full regular season and maintaining full OHSAA tournaments, the board said.

There has not been a decision on whether contact sports will include spectators, but the OHSAA says they believe, at a minimum, parents should be permitted to attend.

Golf, tennis, volleyball and cross country have been determined to be low-contact by the governor’s office and thus are permitted to have contests with other schools. Field hockey, soccer and football have been determined to be high-contact sports and the OHSAA is working with DeWine’s office and the Ohio Department of Health toward modified protocols for those three sports to have contests.

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