Ohio high school football playoffs expanded

Regionals grow to 16 teams

COLUMBUS — The Ohio High School Athletic Association Board of Directors approved tournament regulations Thursday during its April meeting that included proposals from the OHSAA staff to increase the number of playoff qualifiers and change the format of the regional playoffs.

The number of playoff qualifiers will expand to 16 schools per region. In addition, the higher seeded team will host first and second round playoff games, instead of only the first round, before neutral sites are used beginning with the regional semifinals. In the first round, the No. 16 seed will play at the No. 1 seed, the No. 15 seed will play at the No. 2 seed, etc.

“Last fall we received overwhelmingly positive feedback when we allowed every team to enter the football playoffs due to the shortened season because of COVID-19,” OHSAA Executive Director Doug Ute said in a news release. “We know there are some who want to keep the football postseason to a smaller number of schools, but the postseason tournament gives such a positive experience for our student-athletes, the schools and their communities that we felt strongly about giving that opportunity to more schools to make the playoffs. And football remains the only OHSAA sport in which not every team automatically qualifies for the postseason.”

The OHSAA is also exploring adding a strength of schedule component to the Harbin computer ratings, which are used to determine the playoff qualifiers. A strength of schedule component could be added in 2022.

The site of the state championship games has not yet been determined, but the format will include one game Thursday, Dec. 2, and two games each on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 3-5.

During the regional semifinals and finals at neutral sites, the higher seeded team will be the designated home team. The OHSAA then determines the sites and matchups for the state semifinals.

The expansion will increase the number of football playoff qualifiers from 224 to 448.

During the first five rounds of the playoffs, Division I, II, III and IV schools will play Friday nights, while Division V, VI and VII schools will play Saturday nights.

First round playoff games are scheduled for Oct. 29-30.

The first Friday of the regular season is Aug. 20.

Regionals grow to 16 teams

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