Revising is becoming the norm as everyone navigates through the coronavirus health crisis. On Friday, the Iowa High School Athletic Association announced it had developed a revised schedule plan for the 2020 varsity football season.
The announcement brought change to the schedule for the 2020 season only. It ill be a seven-week regular season instead of a nine-week run. The other major change is all teams in all classes will qualify for the postseason.
School athletic directors and football coaches found out about the change at the same time as the public.
Newton High athletic director Ryan Rump and Lynnville-Sully athletic director Mike Parkinson, who is also the head football coach, told the Newton News, they began working on revised schedules Friday and Saturday. The five area high school football teams’ schedules will be announced when finalized.
Football remains the only Iowa high school sport with regular season schedules and postseason qualifying managed by the IHSAA. The revised plan considers flexibility for school return concerns, geography, postseason qualifying, transportation, and possible COVID-19 cases as rationale for changing previously announced varsity football schedules.
The first practice (Aug. 10) and first competition (Aug. 27) dates are currently unchanged in this revision, as are the weeks for state semifinals (Nov. 13-15) and finals (Nov. 20-21).
Providing for start dates as currently scheduled, the IHSAA requests member schools state their intent to participate in football’s regular season and postseason by Aug. 17.
For the regular season, teams will have the option of scheduling five, six, or seven games within those seven weeks. Week 1 and Week 2 will be optional game dates. Opponents, locations, and participation may determined by member schools in 11-man football.
Teams in Classes 3A, 2A, 1A, and A will play their scheduled district games in the previously established order. District games begin in Week 3 instead of Week 5 for these classes.
Eight-man teams have district games from Week 1 on. Due to the number of teams in the classification, eight-man has opponents scheduled on the optional dates of Week 1 and Week 2. Teams in eight-man may opt out of those contests, but may not change opponents or locations unless an agreement is reached with all participating teams and the IHSAA.
Class 4A schools will will schedule their own regular season games. The previously announced group format and success model will not be implemented in 2020. The IHSAA encourages conferences to collaborate in creating their schedules.
For postseason play, brackets will consist of six rounds for each classification. The IHSAA will determine postseason pairings with geography, quality, and team availability as primary considerations. This is intended to be a one-time measure for postseason formatting.
The IHSAA said because of the potential of positive COVID-19 cases forcing players and teams to miss games in the 2020 regular season, the revised plan does not penalize teams with a loss or forfeit due to state, county, or local health department determinations. A missed game due to COVID-19 will be considered a “no contest” and will not be made up.
Teams may work with the IHSAA and new possible opponents should they have open dates due to scheduled opponents missing games.