Welcome to Week 10 of the Regular-Season
COLUMBUS, Ohio – The final week of the 2015 OHSAA football regular season has arrived. On Tuesday (Oct. 27), the OHSAA will release the updated computer ratings. The regular season ends this Saturday night (Oct. 31). That night, all schools must ensure that their Week 10 result is entered correctly into myOHSAA. Late that night (into Sunday morning), OHSAA staff will confirm that all results are entered and will then generate the final computer ratings, which will be posted at www.OHSAA.org. Schools have until 10 AM Sunday (Nov. 1) to report any possible mistakes in the ratings. Unless there is a discrepancy, the ratings become official at noon. The regional playoff brackets will be posted online that afternoon and the weekly release, which includes the pairings in text format, will be posted by 3 p.m.
Weekly Football Releases
Beginning this Sunday (Nov. 1), the OHSAA will release a weekly notes packet every Sunday afternoon around 3 p.m. The weekly notes packet includes the upcoming playoff pairings, media and ticket information, historical information for every team and the football postseason and weekly playoff results from 2015.
In the Beginning… to Seven Divisions
When the OHSAA created the football playoffs in 1972, there were three divisions (called Class A, AA and AAA) and only one playoff qualifier per region (12 total playoff qualifiers). Now in its 44th year, the postseason has expanded to seven divisions and 224 total playoff qualifiers. Expansion occurred in 1980 to five divisions and two qualifiers per region, and then again in 1985 to four qualifiers per region. In 1994, a sixth division was added, while in 1999, the number of qualifiers per region increased to eight. The playoffs expanded to seven divisions in 2013.
OHSAA Football by the Numbers
715 – High schools in Ohio that played football in 2015
7 – Divisions for the playoffs
72 – Schools in Division I
108 – Average number of schools in Division II through VII
32 – Playoff qualifiers per division
2 – Regions in Division I (16 playoff qualifiers per region)
4 – Regions in Divisions II through VII (8 qualifiers per region)
224 – Total playoff qualifiers
31.3 – Percentage of football playing schools that qualify
Playoff Format and Schedule
Unless otherwise noted, Divisions II, III, V and VII will play at 7:30 p.m. on Fridays during the playoffs, while Divisions I, IV and VI will play at 7 p.m. on Saturdays. Occasionally, that schedule changes during the first round is due to the host site having to share the stadium with another school (high school or college) or the site not having lights. In rounds two through four, any changes are typically due to a site hosting a playoff double-header.
Of the four divisions that play their playoff games on Friday nights (II, III, V and VII), one will be selected to play its state championship game on Thursday, Dec. 3. The other three will play their state championship games on Friday, Dec. 4. Divisions I, IV and VI will play their state championship games on Saturday, Dec. 5.
Fans are encouraged to buy their playoff tickets in advance at the participating schools, which keep a percentage of the revenue. For regional playoff games, tickets are $8 presale and $9 at the gate. All-session ticket books are currently on sale for the state championship games Dec. 3, 4 and 5 at http://go.osu.edu/OHSAAFB. All-session ticket books in the club level, which are the chair-back seats on the west side of the stadium, are $105 each (good for all seven games) and also permit indoor access in the Huntington Club before, during and after each game. All-session reserved ticket books on the east side of the stadium, which don’t include indoor access, are $84 each. Single game tickets will go on sale November 29 and cost $10 at the state finalist schools, or at the gate before each game for $15 (club level) and $12 (reserved).
About the Regionals and State Semifinals
The regional playoffs follow bracket format. In Divisions II through VII, the regionals follow bracket format for three weeks, followed by match-ups selected by the OHSAA for the state semifinals. In Division I, which has two regions, the regional playoffs last four weeks, culminating with the regional finals Thanksgiving weekend (which also serve as the state semifinals). The winner of Region 1 (northern half of the state) will face the winner of Region 2 (southern half of the state) in the Division I state championship game Dec. 5 (time TBA).
First Round (Nov. 6-7): During the first round, the higher seed will host the playoff game at its home stadium or the stadium of its choosing. In Division I, the No. 16 seed will play at the No. 1 seed, the No. 15 at No. 2, etc. In Divisions II through VII, the No. 8 seed will play at the No. 1 seed, the No. 7 seed at No. 2, etc.
Second Round (Nov. 13-14), Third Round (Nov. 20-21) and Fourth Round (State Semifinals, Nov. 27-28): Neutral sites will be selected by the OHSAA. There are many factors that go into determining playoff sites, such as quality of field surface, seating capacity, quality of lighting, size of locker rooms and distance from field, press box size, parking spaces available, and a separate locker room for officials. After all those factors are taken into consideration, it must be confirmed that the site is available and willing to host a playoff game on the date needed.
Setting Up the State Championships
Since 2013, the time slots for the state championship games will not be announced until the night of the state semifinals. Of the divisions that play their playoff games on Friday nights during the playoffs (II, III, V and VII), one will be selected to play its state championship on Thurs., Dec. 3 at 7:30 p.m. The schedule for the state championship games is as follows:
Thursday, Dec. 3
7:30 p.m. – Either Div. II, III, V or VII
Friday, Dec. 4
10 a.m. – Either Div. II, III, V or VII
3 p.m. – Either Div. II, III, V or VII
8 p.m. – Either Div. II, III, V or VII
Saturday, Dec. 5
10 a.m. – Either Div. I, IV or VI
3 p.m. – Either Div. I, IV or VI
8 p.m. – Either Div. I, IV or VI
Championship Games Return to Ohio Stadium
After hosting the OHSAA state championship games in Columbus throughout the 1980s, natural grass was installed in Ohio Stadium in Columbus in the spring of 1990 and OSU asked the OHSAA to move its football state championship games to another location. The OHSAA found a home in Stark County, with Canton Fawcett Stadium and Massillon Paul Brown Tiger Stadium sharing the state championship games for last 24 years until last year when the finals returned to the ‘Shoe.
The current contract for the OHSAA football state championship games initially included two years at Ohio Stadium (2014 and 2015), and an additional year was added for 2016 due to the stadium renovations underway in Canton. There is currently no contract in place for the football finals after 2016, but the OHSAA intends to move the finals back to Stark County for 2017 and 2018.
On the Verge of History
Entering the 2015 season, 78 OHSAA member schools have never made the football playoffs. The OHSAA football weekly release on Nov. 1 will include the list of schools making their first playoff appearance, if any. The number of first-time playoff participants since 2000 includes 10 in 2014, two in 2013, seven in 2012, eight in 2011, six in 2010, 14 in 2009, 12 in 2008, 14 in 2007, 10 in 2006, 12 in 2005, 16 in 2004, 12 in 2003, 21 in 2002, 17 in 2001 and 26 in 2000.
Since 1999 when the number of regional qualifiers was expanded to 32 teams per division and the first-round game has been played at the higher seed, 209 schools have made their school’s first playoff appearance. In those games, the playoff newcomers went 26-23 (.531) at home, 19-128 (.129) when playing on the road and 3-10 (.231) when playing at a neutral site.
Building on History
During the playoffs, the OHSAA football weekly releases will include the playoff histories of all teams remaining in the playoffs.
Week 10 Movers
Many schools will need to win their final regular-season game this weekend in order to clinch a playoff berth. The OHSAA football weekly release on Nov. 1 will include the list of schools that were outside the playoff field after Week 9 and moved up into the playoff field thanks to victories in Week 10. Last year, 19 schools that were outside the playoff field after Week 9 moved up into the playoff field thanks for victories in Week 10. The biggest jump was by Versailles in Division VI, Region 22, which moved from 12th to seventh.
First Round Success
Two schools have an amazing success rate in the first round of the playoffs. St. Henry has been in the playoffs 15 times and is 15-0 in first-round playoff games. Cincinnati Colerain is 17-0, although one of its first-round games (1995) was later forfeited. In addition, three schools won their first nine first-round playoff games before losing, including Germantown Valley View, Mogadore and Newark Licking Valley.
The OHSAA football weekly release on Nov. 1 will include the list of schools that are making a return to the playoffs after a long absence. Last year, Bay Village Bay was back in the playoffs for the first time since 1993, while Lorain was back in the playoffs for the first time since 1984 when there were two city schools (Admiral King and Southview). In 2013, Norwalk was back in the playoffs for the first time since winning a state championship in 1974, which marked the longest gap between playoff appearances of 2013 postseason participants.
Last year in the first round of the playoffs, the home teams (higher seeds) went 88-24. In Divisions II through VII, the hosts’ record by seed included 24-0 for No. 1 seeds, 17-7 for No. 2 seeds, 18-6 for No. 3 seeds and 19-5 for No. 4 seeds. In Division I last year, three double-digit seeds won on the road in the first round, including No. 16 seed West Chester Lakota West, No. 12 Canton GlenOak and No. 10 Cincinnati Colerain.
In 2013, three No. 8 seeds won at the No. 1 seed in the first round, including Delphos St. John’s, Doylestown Chippewa and Steubenville. St. John’s and Steubenville reached the state semifinals.
Proving the Pollsters
During the playoffs, the weekly release will contain a breakdown of how the state’s top-ranked teams according to the Associated Press media poll have fared in the postseason. Last year, all 70 teams that appeared in the Top 10 of the final AP poll qualified for the playoffs. 65 of those schools earned a first-round home game. Last year, the only team to be ranked No. 1 in the final poll and go on to win a state championship was Maria Stein Marion Local in Division VII.
Coldwater owns the longest active streak of qualifying for the playoffs at 18-straight years. In fact, the Cavaliers have been to the state championship game the last six years. (Newark Catholic owns the record with eight straight title game appearances (1980-87) followed by Cleveland St. Ignatius with six in a row (1991-96).) Until 2012, Columbus St. Francis DeSales had owned the longest active streak at 18-straight years, but the Stallions missed the playoffs that season. The second-longest active streak is held by Mogadore at 15 straight playoff years. The al-time longest streak of consecutive years making the playoffs is 22 years by Cleveland St. Ignatius from 1988 through 2009.
School Consecutive Years in Playoffs (Years)
Cleveland St. Ignatius 22 (1988-2009)
Coldwater 18 (1997-2014)
Columbus St. Francis DeSales 18 (1994-2011)
Mogadore 16 (1999-2014)
Akron Manchester 15 (1991-2005)
Kettering Archbishop Alter 14 (2001-2014)
Steubenville 14 (2001-2014)
Cin. Archbishop Moeller 13 (2002-2014)
Clarksville Clinton-Massie 13 (2002-2014)
MAC Builds on Success
Last year, the highly successful Midwest Athletic Conference became the first league to have three of its members win football state championships in the same season (Coldwater in Div. V, Minster in Div. VI and Maria Stein Marion Local in Div. VII). The MAC had won two state championships in the same season five times, but never three titles.) The MAC is 31-7 in state semifinal games against non-MAC schools. The MAC is 47-13 against non-MAC schools in OHSAA regional championship games. The MAC is 56-2 in first round playoff games against non-MAC schools since the playoffs expanded to eight qualifiers per region in 1999. (The two losses include a Versailles loss to Lima Central Catholic in 2005 and a Delphos St. John’s loss to Arlington in 2014.) The MAC currently owns 113 various OHSAA state team championships.