By David Fong
COLUMBUS — The Ohio High School Athletic Association’s brief experiment with an all-Friday playoff system has come to an end after just one year.
The OHSAA has officially announced this fall it will be going back to a split system for high school football playoff games. Divisions I, II, III and VI will play on Friday nights during the playoffs, while Divisions IV, V and VII will play on Saturday nights. Last year, the OHSAA moved all playoff games to Friday nights after a long stretch of games being played on both nights. Also, beginning this year, games will kick off at 7 p.m. on both nights. Previously, Friday night playoff games began at 7:30 p.m.
“We still have good attendance throughout the playoffs, but the overall total attendance dropped in 2017 when we moved all the games to Fridays,” said Beau Rugg, OHSAA Director of Officiating and Sport Management and the OHSAA’s football administrator. “Some parts of the state liked staying away from Saturdays for playoff games, but we also received quite a bit of feedback, mainly from the smaller schools, that they hoped we would return to having games on Saturdays, too, so their communities could see two games per weekend instead of one.”
Four area teams could potentially be affected by the move back to the Friday/Saturday schedule. While there are no local Division IV teams, Miami East and Milton-Union both are Division V teams, while Lehman and Bradford both are Division VII teams. Should any of those teams qualify for the playoffs, they would play on Saturday night. Last year, both Miami East and Lehman qualified for the playoffs.
Also, while all 10 area schools will remain in the same divisions in which they played last season, two will be changing playoff regions. Both Miami East and Milton-Union will be moving from Region 20 to Region 18. For the sake of comparison, Miami East went 9-1 last year and finished atop the Region 20 computer points standings with 19.1500 points. That point total would have put the Vikings in fourth place in Region 18 last year.
Other local teams will remain in the following divisions and regions: Troy (Division II, Region 8), Tippecanoe (Division III, Region 12), Piqua (Division III, Region 12), Bethel (Division VI, Region 24), Troy Christian (Division VI, Region 24), Covington (Division VI, Region 24), Lehman (Division VII, Region 28) and Bradford (Division VII, Region 28).
Finally, the OHSAA announced the 2018 title games will return to Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton. The specific dates and times for the state championship games in Canton will be announced after the state semifinals November 23 and 24.
Contact David Fong at email@example.com; follow him on Twitter @thefong