In a statement released Friday afternoon, the Iowa High School Athletic Association set forth scheduling details for the 2020 football season.
“It’s a good day for high school football,” Iowa Falls-Alden football coach Don Anderson said. “Hopefully we manage it correctly.”
The Cadets, AGWSR and South Hardin will remain in their previously released districts this football season. However, the schedule and postseason will look different.
“To better prepare for the 2020 varsity football season, the IHSAA developed a revised schedule plan which allows for member school adjustments due to COVID-19. Football remains the only Iowa high school sport with regular season schedules and postseason qualifying managed by the IHSAA," the release states. "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 (August 10) and first competition (August 27) dates are currently unchanged in this revision, as are the weeks for state semifinals (November 13-15) and finals (November 20-21).
The IHSAA plans to release further fall season and sport-specific guidance next week. Team schedules will be compiled and released when available.
Every team will play in their respective class’ postseason following a seven-week regular season. Teams will have the option of scheduling five, six, or seven games within those seven weeks.
All teams in all classes will qualify for the postseason. Brackets will consist of six rounds for each classification. The IHSAA will determine postseason pairings with geography, quality, and team availability. This is intended to be a one-time postseason format.
Week 1 and Week 2 will be optional game dates. Opponents, locations, and participation may be determined by IHSAA member schools in 11-player football. In AGWSR’s case, the eight-player class will play Week 3 through Week 9 of their previously announced schedules in what is now Week 1 through Week 7. Due to the number of teams in the classification, eight-player has opponents scheduled on the optional dates of Week 1 and Week 2. Teams in eight-player 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.
“The schedule is coming out set in stone next week,” AGWSR head coach James Koop said. “We lose our non-district game with Central City and we won’t play Northwood-Kensett. I think. If I understand, our seven games would be week three through nine but changed to weeks one through seven and we would lose those first two games.”
Class 2A (IF-A) and Class 1A (South Hardin) will play their scheduled district games in the previously established order. This change means the prior Week 5 becomes Week 3, Week 6 becomes Week 4, etc., in this revised plan.
Teams will not be penalized with a loss or forfeit due to state, county, or local health department determinations due to a positive COVID-19 test. A missed game because of 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.
Koop is unsure exactly what will happen moving forward, everything is so fluid with the pandemic continuing.
“What I and I think the kids are struggling with is the uncertainty,” Koop said. “A week ago, they came out and said they were going to have the fall seasons as scheduled. Now we’ve cut two games from the schedule. What happens next week or the week after. I appreciate what the State is doing with doing what they think is in the best interest and allowing the kids to have their season. But, each week seems to be a new set of question marks.”
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 August 17. All three area schools indicated they would be playing this fall.
“Absolutely,” Anderson said. “Not everything is perfect, but it gives us an opportunity to play. Still, nothing is guaranteed. Hopefully this is just a one-year type of thing.”
Anderson, president of the Iowa Football Coaches Association, said his Board backs the IHSAA plan. While meeting with the IHSAA earlier during the on-going pandemic, several scenarios were discussed. He said this is entirely an IHSAA plan.
“It’s not easy trying to set this up to get some sort of season in,” Anderson said. “It needs to be done to take care of the kids, coaches, spectators, officials and everybody. Kudos go to the Association for working their tails off to come up with something because it would have been pretty disheartening to a lot of kids if we couldn’t have something.”