CEDAR RAPIDS — How many districts? How many teams in those districts? How many wildcard berths? How will those be determined?
So many questions, all of which are expected to be answered Wednesday morning when the Board of Control of the Iowa High School Athletic Association meets at the IHSAA’s office in Boone.
The prep football playoff field is being cut in half, from 32 teams to 16 in each class, beginning with the 2016 season. That much is certain.
Everything else is in the air but will be decided via Board of Control vote. The top 48 schools in enrollment comprise Class 4A, with the next 56 making up 3A, the next 56 2A and the next 56 1A.
The remaining schools are Class A. There also is an Eight-Player class.
“I hope 4A is districts of eight,” said Cedar Rapids Jefferson Activities Director Chris Deam. “That’s what the ADs told them we wanted. To me, more games should count.”
There were only 46 schools in 4A this past season, though Western Dubuque and Newton are expected to move up from 3A in 2016. There were eight districts in the class, though two of them in Eastern Iowa consisted only of five teams.
Therefore, schools in them had more non-district regular-season games (five) than district (four). That’s why the majority of Eastern Iowa coaches and ADs prefer six districts of eight.
The majority of schools in Central Iowa want eight districts of six teams each.
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“My only problem with eight-team districts is what if we would get put in a district without Washington and Kennedy,” Deam said. “Well, we’ve got to play them, so there’s our two non-district games right there.”
Word is the majority of the 1A, 2A and 3A schools prefer seven districts of eight teams each. That would leave two non-district games for schools to schedule long-standing rivalries outside their class.
If district champions and runners-up qualify for the playoffs, that would leave two at-large playoff bids, with some form of formula having to be used to determine them.
“I have no idea how this is all going to go,” Deam said, when asked if he had a gut feeling on what would happen.
Playoff qualifiers were cut in half for player safety reasons. Teams could play as many as three postseason games in 10 days under the old system.
Now, there will be a week before the end of the regular season and the beginning of the playoffs, as well as between playoff rounds. After the playoff system is finalized, the IHSAA will go about putting together districts and full schedules for all schools.
Those are expected to be released in February.
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