HS football down to 7 weeks

All teams will qualify for the expanded postseason

Fairfield quarterback Carter Ferrel throws a swing pass during Fairfield’s road loss at Mt. Pleasant last week. (Union file photo)
Fairfield quarterback Carter Ferrel throws a swing pass during Fairfield’s road loss at Mt. Pleasant last week. (Union file photo)

The Iowa High School Athletic Association released a new plan for the upcoming football season that shortens the nine-game regular schedule to seven games, which allows everyone a playoff game.

The plan, approved by the IHSAA Board of Control on Friday, allows “for member school adjustments due to COVID-19,” according to a release.

The revised plan considers flexibility for school return concerns, geography, postseason qualifying, transportation, and possible COVID-19 cases as rationale for changing previously announced varsity football schedules.

The beginning and end of the football year remains the same, but everything in between changes. The playoffs will begin Oct. 16, and all teams will be eligible for the postseason this year. The dates of the state semifinals (November 13-15) and finals (November 20-21) remain unchanged

Practice still begins Aug. 10, and the regular season — which will consist of seven weeks — still begins Aug. 27. Teams will have the option of scheduling five, six or seven games within those seven weeks.

All teams in all classes will qualify for the postseason. Brackets will consist of six rounds. The IHSAA said it will “determine postseason pairings with geography, quality and team availability as primary considerations.” This format is just for this season.

Week 1 and Week 2 will be optional game dates. Opponents, locations and participation may be determined by member schools in 11-player football.

Teams in Classes 3A, 2A, 1A, and A will play their scheduled district games in the previously established order. This change means the prior Week 5 becomes Week 3, Week 6 becomes Week 4, etc., in this revised plan.

In Class 4A, schools will schedule their own regular-season games. The previously announced group format and success model for the large schools will not be implemented this year. The IHSAA encourages conferences to collaborate in creating their schedules.

In 8-player, teams will play Week 3 through Week 9 of their previously announced schedules in what is now Week 1 through Week 7. Due to the number of teams in the classification, 8-player has opponents scheduled on the optional dates of Week 1 and Week 2. Teams in 8-player may opt out of those contests, but may not change opponents or locations unless an agreement is reached with all participating teams and the IHSAA.

Due to the potential of positive COVID-19 cases forcing players and teams to miss games, the revised plan will not penalize teams with a loss or forfeit. A missed game due to COVID-19 will be considered a “no contest” and will not be made up. Teams may work with the IHSAA to schedule new possible opponents should they have open dates due to scheduled opponents missing games.

The Ratings Percentage Index, which was introduced in 2018 by the IHSAA to help determine playoff qualifiers, will not be utilized in 2020.

The IHSAA plans to release further fall season and sport-specific guidance next week. Team schedules will be compiled and released when available.