COLUMBUS, Ohio -- All seven divisions of the Ohio high school football playoffs will be played on Friday nights this fall until the state finals in December.
The Ohio High School Athletic Association Board of Directors voted unanimously by a 9-0 vote to approve the formal proposal at its regularly scheduled meeting in Columbus this morning.
The OHSAA plans to send a formal news release regarding the postseason schedule and the regional format June 6.
WCPO.com first reported in April the OHSAA was looking into the possibility of having all seven divisions play on Friday nights since the 2016 playoffs’ attendance was the second-lowest since the tournament expanded to five rounds in 1999.
There was never a question that Division I would remain on Friday but the OHSAA considered changes to the six other divisions.
In 2016, Divisions III, V and VII games were on Saturday night. Yet the OHSAA found Saturday night games often conflict with college football and high school football attendance is primarily higher on Fridays around the state.
Prior to the 2016 season, the OHSAA approved a measure to move Division I playoff games to Friday. 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. There were 716 Ohio high school football teams in 2016.
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.
This season will the first time since 1973 that the Ohio high school football playoffs will be played exclusively on Friday until the state finals, according to OHSAA Commissioner Bob Goldring.
The 1973 playoffs were just the second year of the postseason and there were just three classes (A, AA, AAA) and just two rounds (state semifinals and state finals) played.
The six semifinal games were on Friday, Nov. 16, and the three championship games were on Friday, Nov. 23, according to Goldring.
"In all other years there was some sort of rotation in order in which games were played on Fridays and Saturdays," Goldring said. "Although it appears many years had divisions playing earlier rounds on both days, and I¹m guessing that was due to site availability combined with conditions of mostly grass fields.
The 2017 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.