By David Fong
COLUMBUS — The Friday night lights will shine brighter than ever in Ohio this fall, particularly during the playoffs.
That’s because the Ohio High School Athletic Association announced Tuesday that all high school football playoff games from the opening round (regional quarterfinals) through the state semifinals will be played exclusively on Friday nights. The state championship games for all seven divisions still will be spread over three days the first weekend in December.
“For a few years now we have studied the possibility of moving all playoff games to Friday nights for the first four rounds,” OHSAA Assistant Commissioner Beau Rugg said. “Due to so many more college football games being played on Saturday nights, attendance at our Saturday playoff games has steadily declined, and more potential playoff sites have said they cannot host games on Saturdays. We now have enough playoff sites to handle all the games on one night, and the football coaches association was in support of this change, too, because teams will get to stay on their normal weekly schedule of playing on Friday night.”
This will be the first time since the OHSAA instituted a playoff system in 1972 that playoff games no longer will take place on Saturday nights, OHSAA Director of Communications Tim Stried said.
In addition to the new playoff format, new regional alignments also have been announced. New divisions were announced in April.
Here’s a look at what divisions and regions local teams will be playing in this fall:
Troy (Division II, Region 8)
The Trojans will remain in Division II, Region 8 this season. There will be five new teams moving up from Division III to join Region 8, however.
Western Brown, Oxford Talawanda, Belmont and Carroll all will be moving up from Division III, Region 12 to Division II, Region 8, while Chillicothe will be moving up from Region 11.
One team that will be noticeably absent from Troy’s region this year will be Miamisburg, which moved up from Division II to Division I. The Vikings handed Troy its only two losses last year, one during the regular season and one in the regional semifinals.
Tippecanoe and Piqua (Division III, Region 12)
The Red Devils and Indians both will remain in Division III, Region 12. Lima Shawnee and Elida will remain in Division III, but move from Region 10 to Region 12. Hamilton Badin, Chaminade Julienne, Alter and Dunbar and Monroe all will be moving up from Division IV to compete in Region 12.
Vandalia-Butler and West Carrollton will be moving down from Division II to compete in Division III, Region 12.
Miami East and Milton-Union (Division V, Region 20)
The Vikings will move up from Division VI, Region 24 to compete in Division V, Region 20. Milton-Union will remain in Division V, Region 20. Both teams reached the playoffs in their respective regions last year.
Also moving up from Division VI, Region 24 into Region 20 will be Purcell Marian and Summitt Country Day. West Jefferson will be moving up from Division VI, Region 23 into Region 20.
Four teams — Middletown Madison, Cincinnati Mariemont, Reading and Waynesville all will be moving down from Division IV, Region 16.
Troy Christian, Covington and Bethel (Division VI, Region 24)
Troy Christian and Covington both will be moving up from Division VII, Region 28 to compete in Division VI, Region 24.
Bethel will remain in Division VI, Region 24, where it was last season.
Moving down from Division V, Region 20 to compete in Division VI, Region 24 will be: Coldwater, Fort Recovery, Deer Park and Northeastern.
Lehman and Bradford (Division VII, Region 28)
The Cavaliers and Railroaders will remain in Division VII, Region 28.
Triad will move down from Division VI, Region 24 to compete in Region 28. Lima Perry and Delphos St. John’s both will remain in Division VII, but will be moving from Region 26 into Region 28.
Contact David Fong at email@example.com; follow him on Twitter @thefong