OHSAA considering having all football playoff games on Friday nights until state finals

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The Ohio High School Athletic Association is considering the possibility of playing all seven divisions of football playoff games on Friday nights until the state finals, WCPO.com has learned.

The OHSAA is considering changes after the 2016 football playoffs’ attendance was reported to be the second-lowest since the tournament expanded to five rounds in 1999.

WCPO.com has learned Division I playoff football games will remain on Friday nights and the OHSAA is looking at possible other schedule changes for the six other divisions.

The 2016 playoff schedule included Divisions I, II, IV and VI with kickoff times at 7:30 p.m. Friday. The Divisions III, V and VII games started at 7 p.m. Saturday.

The football tournament regulations are still being considered and the OHSAA board of directors would vote on any changes to the playoff and regional formats at its meeting June 1. The OHSAA is expected to formally announce the format June 6. The football divisions were announced Thursday.

The OHSAA has noticed a higher attendance in recent years for Friday night football games. Saturday night games often conflict with college football. The OHSAA considered playing all seven divisions on Friday nights prior to last season but it was not formally proposed.

The 2016 football playoffs’ total attendance was 455,027.

Prior to the 2016 season, the OHSAA approved a measure to move Division I football playoff games to Friday night. The Division I playoff games had been on Saturdays since 1980 except for a few occasions in 2001 and 2006.

Football is still the OHSAA’s largest revenue sport followed by boys basketball, girls basketball and soccer.

The first day of official football practice is July 31. Regular-season games officially open Aug. 21. The playoff qualifiers are announced Oct. 29 and the playoffs begin Nov. 3.

The state championships will be held at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium (formerly Fawcett Stadium) in Canton Nov. 30 to Dec. 3. The state finals schedule will be announced after the state semifinals the weekend of Nov. 24.

The state football finals will remain in Canton in 2018. The OHSAA intends to return to Ohio Stadium in 2019.

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