COLUMBUS – The football season has been shortened, the Ohio High School Athletic Association announced in a memo to member schools Thursday afternoon.
“We were advised this week (by the Governor’s office) that ending our season earlier in football was in the best interest of the participants due to the uncertainty of what colder weather could do to COVID‐19 cases,” OHSAA interim executive director Bob Goldring said in the memo. “Therefore, our Board of Directors today approved a modification to the OHSAA football season that we believe will be a win‐win for all parties.”
The Governor has not announced whether fall contact sports will be allowed to play yet. But he did say Friday an announcement would come next week.
In the plan, the regular season will be shortened to six games and all schools will be eligible for the playoffs. Week 1 of the regular season is still the week of Aug. 24. But the conclusion will now be the week of Sept. 28 with the playoffs slated to begin on Oct. 9. The state championship game will be no later than Nov. 21.
“To both ensure we can offer students the opportunity to participate in education‐based athletes but do so with their best interests in mind, we believe this modified plan offers a positive solution by addressing many of the concerns of our member schools,” said Jeff Cassella, president of the OHSAA Board of Directors and athletic administrator at Mentor High School. “Those that are able to start their seasons on time will be able to do so. Those that are starting later can still have a season. Add in the option of all schools entering the playoffs and the possibility of schools still being able to play 10 regular season contests, and this plan is helpful to virtually all of our schools.”
Originally, the regular season would have ended the week of Oct. 31 and the state championship games would have been in Dec.
Now, the playoffs will forgo the normal Harbin ratings and seeding will be done by a coaches’ vote. The better seed will host playoff contests through at least the regional semifinal round and possibly the regional final round.
Schools will have to commit to the playoffs by 11:59 p.m. on Sept. 17 and will be allowed to withdraw without penalty by Sept. 24. The brackets will be drawn Sept. 18.
Cross country is a non-contact sport
Cross country is officially a non-contact sport. The change in status was announced by the OHSAA in a memo Aug. 6.
Cross country will be allowed to begin school vs. school competition on its official start date of Aug. 24.
The point of debate was on the starting line where big groups of runners are bunched together. The Ohio Association of Track and Cross Country Coaches released guidelines Aug. 4 that call for starting boxes where runners are six feet apart in all directions.
For example, a starting box for a 150-person race that allows for 21 teams at seven runners per team is 372 feet.
But that suggestion has not been included in the OHSAA guidelines yet.
The OHSAA offered, “The OHSAA recommends that schools consider holding smaller events,” Goldring said in the memo.