OHSAA is welcoming more teams for playoffs


OHSAA is expanding the football playoffs to 16 teams per region starting in 2021. The higher seeds will host two rounds of the playoffs instead of only one.  


In addition, the higher seeded team will host first and second round playoff games, instead of only the first round, before neutral sites are used beginning with the regional semifinals. In the first round, the No. 16 seed will play at the No. 1 seed, the No. 15 seed will play at the No. 2 seed, etc.


During the first five rounds of the playoffs, Division I, II, III and IV schools will play on Friday nights, while Division V, VI and VII schools will play on Saturday nights.


2021 OHSAA Football Playoff Schedule

October 29-30 – First Round at Higher Seeded Teams

November 5-6 – Reg Quarterfinal at Higher Seeded 

November 12-13 – Regional Semifinals at Neutral Sites

November 19-20 – Regional Finals at Neutral Sites

November 26-27 – State Semifinals at Neutral Sites

December 2-5 – State Championships, Site TBD, one game Thursday, two games each day on Friday, Saturday and Sunday


The first Friday of the regular-season is August 20, and the regular-season will conclude on Saturday, October 23.


Our Austin Malutic reached out to area coaches to get their thoughts on the big announcement.  Their responses are below.  


Lisbon HC Matt Altomare


“ I was a little surprised at first when I read the OHSAA press release to expand the playoffs to 16 teams. I was surprised both by the doubling of teams and by the timing of the announcement. It will make for an interesting post season that's for sure. It is hard to tell if this will be good for high school football at this time. I think we can make that assessment a few years down the road. The announcement doesn't really affect myself or our team at this time too much. We are still preparing to put forth the best effort we can each and every Friday in the fall. The playoffs are a special time and a special experience for high school football players. If 448 schools get to experience the playoffs and a playoff atmosphere, that is a good thing”. 


Western Reserve HC Jason Lude 


“I wish I could celebrate this decision about the opportunity it will create for hundreds and thousands of kids to earn an opportunity to be invited to the dance. Unfortunately decisions like this are not made for the kids. We preach DO THE RIGHT THING in our program and unfortunately there are decision makers out there who do not follow that same code. We have already had to sacrifice a week of practice and a scrimmage for an extra week of the post season and the response was getting two acclimation days back in July. Like I said, I am happy for each and every kid who will get the opportunity to play in the post season, it just seems like we are all over the place with these decisions. We are getting answers on the post season while coaches all across the state of Ohio are still asking questions about how June, July, and August are going to work. We seem to be working backwards and that can be frustrating. December is half a year away and a lot can change between now and then. Right now our program focus is on today. At the end of the day the Western Reserve football program is one day closer to the season. Our focus and preparation remains the same. We preach to our guys every day about maximizing their control factor. We will continue to DO THE RIGHT THING. Division VI, Region 21 is loaded with elite competition. Our schedule features two teams who played for a State Championship in 2020. We were 0-11 in Rivalry games between football and basketball last year. The MVAC is deeper than it has ever been and this is the longest Western Reserve has gone without a Championship since 2006. We have a great proud tradition out here at Western Reserve and our players are motivated by the opportunity to play football. At the end of the day, it is a great day to be a Blue Devil”. 


Jackson Milton HC Nathan Brode 


“ Initial reaction is that now there will be more opportunities for teams to achieve their goal of making the playoffs. This will be good for HS football because of the opportunity for a potential upset that would have never been made possible had the playoffs not been expanded. This could affect our team if we finish in top 16. In 2019 we would have made the playoffs had this been the format. More opportunities will bring out more competitive games later on in the year.”  


Story by Austin Malutic and Jay Hig