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IHSA issues curve ball for the gridiron

By Lenny Sementi
In an attempt to stabilize athletic conferences around the state a proposal was initiated early last summer, and on Monday, Dec. 17, the IHSA approved Proposal 23 in its annual by law referendum. That proposal will implement a district scheduling system for football beginning with the 2021 season.

Proposal 23 will replace the prior system that awards a playoff berth to 256 teams including all conference champions and teams with at least six wins during the regular season. The remaining spots are filled by tiebreaker system of which five-win teams are separated by playoff points (opponents win totals).

A press release issued by the IHSA stated Proposal 23 passed 324-307-69 directing the IHSA to implement a football scheduling system for regular-season varsity games that would involve a) A nine-week regular season, b) Playoff classes determined in advance of the season, c) Schools from each class placed into eight geographic groups by the IHSA to play a round robin schedule, d) The remaining games on the schedule to be arranged by individual schools at their discretion e) The top four teams in each of the eight groups qualify for the playoffs, based on games played within the group.

“It is a historic change,” said IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson. “The narrow gap in the voting indicates that there are pros and cons that impact our diverse football playing membership in multitude of way. We hope that it will effectively address conference realignment and scheduling concerns, while helping create a long-term sustainability and growth for high school football in the state. The district assigning process will be similar to how schools are assigned to Regionals and Sectionals in other sports and activities.”

The eight classes will be assigned for the first time prior to the 2021 season and then will be reassigned every two years there after. There were 560 IHSA member schools that played football in 2018. Only 523 of those schools were eligible for the playoffs. To balance the districts the number of schools will need to be 512 in order for schools to get there needed seven-district games.

The full story can be found in the Wednesday, Jan. 9 edition of The Tuscola Journal.

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