Thursday, May 21st, 2020
State football playoffs to expand field starting in 2021
From staff reports
From Staff and Wire Reports
The Ohio high school football playoffs will expand starting in 2021.
The Ohio High School Athletic Association has voted to increase the number of teams that qualify in each region from eight to 12. Per the press release sent Wednesday afternoon, the vote was unanimous. In the current format, the top four seeds in each region host the first week of the playoffs with all remaining playoff games played at neutral sites.
Under the new format, the top four teams in each region receive a first-round bye. The fifth through 12th-seeded teams will play each other with the higher seed hosting. In the second round, the top four seeds will host with all remaining games being neutral site games.
The expansion will increase the number of football playoff qualifiers from 224 to 336. Last year there were 709 schools in Ohio that played 11-man football.
"We still have details to work out regarding the format and specific season dates, but this vote by the board gives us the green light to finalize those details for 2021," said Beau Rugg, Senior Director of Officiating and Sport Management for the OHSAA and the Association's football administrator in the press release. "We are thankful for the board's support on this proposal, which will bring all the great things of playoff football to 112 additional schools and communities."
Schools will still be permitted to play 10 regular-season games. The OHSAA state football championships are expected to take place as originally planned on Dec. 2-5.
The OHSAA football playoffs began in 1972 when only 12 schools qualified for the playoffs (four schools in each of the three classes). Expansion first came in 1980 when the OHSAA changed to five divisions with eight teams each (40 total qualifiers). A sixth division was added in 1994 (96 total qualifiers) and the number of qualifiers was increased to eight schools per region in 1999 (192 total qualifiers). A seventh division was added in 2013 to bring the number of qualifiers to 224.