COLUMBUS – The Ohio High School Athletic Association (OHSAA) Board of Directors approved the proposed 2021 football tournament regulations on April 22.
Per a statement sent out by OHSAA Director of Communications Tim Stried, “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,” Doug Ute, OHSAA Executive Director, said 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 to make the playoffs. And football remains the only OHSAA sport in which not every team automatically qualifies for the postseason.”
The new format will include one game Thursday, December 2, and two games each on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, December 3-5. The site of the championship game is yet to be determined.
The Ohio High School Football Coaches Association (OHSFCA) was more than displeased with the approval, citing in a statement from the OHSFCA Board of Directors that the OHSAA did not work in good faith with the OFCA.
“The decision by the OHSAA to expand to a 16-team playoff format is met with complete dismay from the OHSFCA. The OHSAA failed to work in good faith with the OHSFCA. The OHSFCA worked for over two years to create a viable expansion of the playoff system…We are extremely disappointed in yesterday’s vote by the OHSAA without consulting the OHSFCA. It is abundantly clear that this decision is financially motivated. The OHSFCA remains committed to working with the OHSAA and anyone else who is committed to maintaining the high standards of Ohio High School Football.”
In May 2020, the OHSAA announced that the football playoffs would expand to 12 teams per region in 2021 and the top four seeds in each region would have a first-round bye. Expanding to 16 schools per region does not add a week to the postseason since it was already now six weeks, it simply eliminates the bye-weeks.
During the first five rounds of the playoffs, Friday night games will be played by Division I, II, III and IV schools. Division V, VI and VII schools will participate in Saturday night contests.
2021 OHSAA Football Playoff Schedule
October 29-30 – First Round at Higher Seeded Teams
November 5-6 – Regional Quarterfinals at Higher Seeded Teams
November 12-13 – Regional Semifinals at Neutral Sites
November 19-20 – Regional Finals at Neutral Sites
November 26-27 – State Semifinals at Neutral Sites
December 2-5 – State Championships, Site TBD, one game Thursday, two games each day on Friday, Saturday and Sunday