COLUMBUS, Ohio (WJW) — The Ohio High School Athletic Association (OHSAA) says the high school football season will be shortened to six games if the sport is approved by Governor Mike DeWine.
According to the OHSAA, the decision follows a recommendation this week from the Governor’s Office to shorten the season due to concerns that COVID-19 may spike in early winter.
“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,” Jeff Cassella, president of the OHSAA Board of Directors and athletic administrator at Mentor High School, said in a press release. “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.”
OHSAA says the six-game regular season will begin the week of August 24 and run through the week of September 28.
Schools may keep their first six previously scheduled games, but all regular-season football contracts are now voidable by either school, especially in the event that conferences redo their league schedules to fit into the first six weeks.
In addition, playoffs will begin October 9, with state finals ending no later than Saturday, November 21.
All teams are eligible to enter the OHSAA playoffs. The number of playoff rounds will be dependent on the number of schools that enter the playoffs in each division.
The Harbin Ratings have been suspended for the 2020 season and playoff seeding will be via a vote of the coaches during the week of September 28.
All playoff contests through the regional semifinals, and possibly the regional finals, will be hosted by the higher seeded team.
Schools must commit to participating in the playoffs by September 17 and may withdraw from the contest without penalty until September 24.
Schools who are eliminated from the playoffs or choose not to enter the contest have the option to schedule additional regular season games, with a maximum of 10 total regular season contests, through November 14.
This announcement comes just days after OHSAA announced that fall sports seasons will go forward as planned. Under that plan, low/non‐contact sports and contact sports were permitted to begin official practices Saturday, August 1.
Additionally, OHSAA recently sent out a 22-page document on recommendations for a return to play during COVID-19.
The organization strongly recommended daily pre-participation screening for all athletes, coaches, trainers and school personnel, including temperature screenings, most if not all schools in northeast Ohio are already following that guideline.
OHSAA also asked that all players wear masks to and from games, when arriving at the game site and when not involved in the field of play.
A decision on whether spectators will be permitted at contact sports has not yet been made, however, the OHSAA believes that at a minimum parents should be allowed to attend.