COLUMBUS, Ohio – Ohio Division I high school playoff football games may be moved from Saturday to Friday this upcoming season.
Ohio High School Athletic Association Commissioner Dr. Dan Ross told a media advisory committee meeting Wednesday morning the state coaches’ association recommended some games to be moved to Friday night. He did not specify which division(s).
WCPO.com has learned Division I is being considered to move to Friday night. The proposed Friday night playoff schedule would include Divisions I, II, IV and VI. The proposed Saturday night schedule includes Divisions III, V and VII.
Those proposed changes would be through the state semifinal round. The state finals schedule is determined later.
Currently, Divisions II, III, IV and VI play at 7:30 p.m. on Fridays during the playoffs through the state semifinals, while Divisions I, V and VII play at 7 p.m. on Saturdays.
The OHSAA Board of Directors will likely vote on the proposal June 2 at its meeting in Columbus.
Multiple Cincinnati-area Division I football coaches told WCPO.com they are in favor of switching to Friday nights throughout the playoffs leading up to the state finals.
The state football coaches’ association had considered a recommendation earlier this school year for all seven divisions to play on Friday nights, but that won’t happen, the OHSAA said Wednesday morning.
The OHSAA has traditionally scheduled Division I football playoff games for 7 p.m. Saturdays but in larger areas of the state the games often conflict with college football times.
“More and more colleges are playing more and more games on Saturday nights in November,” Ross said.
Also, the OHSAA has noted attendance has recently declined for Saturday football games. Friday night playoff games kick off at 7:30 p.m.
This upcoming season could mark the first time that Division I playoff games will be scheduled for Friday nights since 1978 when the largest school division was classified as Class AAA, according to the OHSAA.
The state semifinals were played on Friday, Nov. 17, 1978 at 7:30 p.m. at the Rubber Bowl in Akron and at Welcome Stadium in Dayton.
This has been an active spring for football rules and regulations.
The OHSAA unanimously approved a plan April 14 to return Division I football to four regions effective this upcoming season. This brings back the true regional final in Division I instead of the regional final/state semifinal setup the past two seasons.
There are 72 Division I football schools in Ohio. Only 22 of the state’s 88 counties have a Division I football program.
There will be 18 Division I teams in the Cincinnati area this season. The state finals will be held in Dec. 1-3 at Ohio Stadium.
The OHSAA will announce the championship schedule after the state semifinal games. One game is played on Thursday night while three divisions compete on Friday and Saturdays at Ohio Stadium, respectively.
Full high school football practice officially begins Aug. 1 with games scheduled to start the week of Aug. 22.