OHSAA Doubles Size of Football Postseason

COLUMBUS, Ohio  – The Ohio High School Athletic Association has expanded the football playoff system, doubling the number of teams competing in each division.

At its April meeting, the OHSAA Board of Directors announced an increase in the number of teams for the first – or regional – round of the playoffs. The change will start this year, with 16 teams per division qualifying for the first round.

The original format, which had been in effect since 1999, had eight teams per division. 

The higher-seeded teams will host the first two rounds of the playoffs. In previous years, the higher-ranked team only hosted the first round before moving to neutral sites.

The number of total playoff spots for the seven divisions will increase to 448 from 224. According to the OHSAA, 709 schools play 11-man football in Ohio.

The OHSAA expanded the postseason to 12 teams for the regional round in 2020. The decision was made as a contingency plan in case COVID-19 forced the cancellation of games before the brackets were formed.

“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,” said Doug Ute, OHSAA executive Director, in a statement. “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. And football remains the only OHSAA sport in which not every team automatically qualifies for the postseason.”

More changes could come in 2022. The OHSAA will discuss instituting a “strength of schedule component” for the Harbin computer rankings. The rankings use a point system based on an opponent’s division. 

The site of the state championships has not been determined. One game will be played on Dec. 2 and two games in each division are scheduled from Dec. 3-5.

The high school football camps will begin in August. The first Friday of OHSAA competition is scheduled for Aug. 20. The first round of the football playoff is scheduled to begin Oct. 29-30.

Copyright 2021 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.