BY YANEEK SMITH, BEACON CONTRIBUTOR
The Ohio High School Athletic Association has announced that the 2020 football season will be shortened to six games with every team qualifying for the playoffs.
The decision came following a recommendation from the Governor’s Office to shorten the season because of concerns that COVID-19 might become more potent when winter arrives.
The season is set to begin on Aug. 28. The postseason will begin Oct. 9, with the state championship games being played no later than Nov. 21.
The proposal is awaiting Governor Mike DeWine’s approval.
Schools can choose to keep their first six games, but all of the regular-season contracts are now voidable. The OHSAA will construct new playoff regions in September. Schools that are eliminated from the postseason can schedule regular-season games until Nov. 14.
President Jeff Cassella of the OHSAA Board of Directors and the athletic administrator at Mentor High School, approved of the plan.
“To both ensure we can offer students the opportunity to participate in education-based athletics, but do so with their best interests in mind, we believe this modified plan offers a positive solution by addressing many of the concerns of our member schools,” Cassella said. “Those that are able to start their seasons on time will be able to do so. Those that are starting later can still have a season.
“Add in the option of all schools entering the playoffs and the possibility of schools still being able to play 10 regular-season contests, and this plan is helpful to virtually all of our schools.”
At a recent meeting of the athletic directors for the Sandusky Bay Conference’s Lake and Bay divisions, schedules were finalized for the teams. Each team will play the five opponents in its division with one crossover game.
“We’re just looking forward to getting out on the field and giving our kids the opportunities to play. We have a great group of athletic directors that work together well,” said Oak Harbor Athletic Director Dan Hoover. “There was a lot of good discussion, and we’re trying to clear things up. That’s why it’s so good to be in the SBC, we have a great group of guys to work with.
“We have a document we’re working on now for tickets and some of the rest of that protocol we could be using for face covering, marching bands, and more. It’s going to be updated, it will get proofed and it has to be OK’d by the principals.
“Information on tickets should be out early next week.”
Port Clinton Athletic Director Rick Dominick attended the meeting, too.
“It was a great meeting with good dialogue,” he said. “Our goal was to ensure that each school ended up with three home games, and we did.”
The Rockets open the season with Bellevue at home, then travel to Vermilion in week two. Oak Harbor then hosts Huron, faces Edison and Willard on the road and closes with Port Clinton at home.
“I really believe that anything we can do to have a season, safely, I’m all for it. I think the administrators are trying to do what they can to ensure that we have a season,” said Oak Harbor coach Mike May. “We’re going to practice and try to prepare as normal as possible. Hopefully we’re playing in week one.
“I think the athletic directors are trying to do what they can to ensure that we have a season. We’re going to practice and try to prepare as normal as possible.
The Redskins, meanwhile, open the season on the road at Tiffin Columbian and then travel to Milan to face Edison in week two. Then Port Clinton has three straight home games against Vermilion, Willard and Huron before traveling to Oak Harbor in week six.
“I’m glad it worked out for the SBC, at least for the Bay and Lake divisions. I think the SBC is a family. There are tremendous rivalries, but there’s more respect than there is any type of animosity,” said Port Clinton football coach Beau Carmon.
‘I think everybody seems to respect one another and get along, and I think the athletic directors worked really hard today. They had to talk it out and figure things out. I’m thrilled to play my alma mater. We’re certainly not taking a step down from Bellevue in playing Columbian. We’re playing a team that has a tremendous tradition and a lot of history, a lot of great players. It’s certainly going to be a challenge.
“I applaud the OHSAA for trying to do the right thing by getting the kids out on the field, but it’s not done yet. The kids are excited, and they’re working hard. I think they recognize that the adults are attempting to give them as much of a regular season as possible. I’m really happy, it looks like there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.”
Danbury, which is playing 8-man football, has a nine-game season. The Lakers play St. Mary Central Catholic twice and face Stryker, Holgate and Toledo Christian two times as well with Zanesville Bishop Rosecrans game at the end of the season.
“We could get our entire season in without having to change anything because we don’t have the same playoff scenario as 11-man football,” said Danbury coach Keith Mora. “Week 10 is the beginning of playoffs. The first weekend of November is the last weekend for us if nothing changes. We are in a very small playoff for two rounds.”
The field for 8-man football is much more narrow than it is for regular football.
“For one thing, the edges are so much shorter in 8-man football,” Mora said. “It’s a little faster on the edges. We put a lot more focus on that now that we’re able to go into more contact for practice.”