Prep Football

Iowa Football Coaches Association wants increase in number of state playoff qualifiers

One proposal would see 24 schools make it in Class 4A, 32 in the other five classes

Linn-Mar's Will Zahradnik (3) recovers his own fumble against Bettendorf in the first half of their first-round prep foo
Linn-Mar’s Will Zahradnik (3) recovers his own fumble against Bettendorf in the first half of their first-round prep football playoff game at Linn-Mar High School on Friday, Nov. 1, 2019. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — The Iowa Football Coaches Association wants the Iowa High School Athletic Association to increase the number of playoff participants.

The IFCA conducted regional meetings this week and apparently very well could ask the IHSAA to consider having 24 schools in Class 4A make the playoffs and 32 each in the other five classes, beginning next season.

“This is what the coaches are recommending for the playoff format,” an IFCA member told The Gazette. “The state is probably going to balk at it, but we wanted to get it out there that this is the format that a vast majority, if not all of us, want.”

One potential IFCA proposal would have seven districts of six schools in Class 4A and six districts of nine schools in Class 3A, 2A, 1A, A and 8-Player. The top three teams in each 4A district would be playoff qualfiiers, with three additional wildcard qualifiers.

In the other five classes, the top four teams in each district would qualify for the postseason, as would eight wildcards. Wildcards would be determined by three things: 1. Head-to-head results, 2. RPI, 3. Alphabetical draw.

The playoffs in the lower five classes would be bracketed in four groups of eight, with all first and second seeds hosting first-round games, as well as four third seeds. Those, again, would be determined by head to head, RPI or alphabetically.

The higher-seeded team would host second-round and quarterfinal games. The semifinals would be reseeded based upon head to head, RPI or alphabetically.


In Class 4A, district champions would receive first-round playoff byes, as would one addition team, based upon a criteria yet to be determined. Tiebreakers to determine a team’s final place in its district standings would be determined, again, via head to head, RPI or alphabetically.

This IFCA proposal would have the first round of the playoffs in 2020 held on Thursday, Oct. 29. The second round would be Wednesday, Nov. 4, and the quarterfinals Tuesday, Nov. 10.

The semifinals would be conducted Monday and Tuesday, Nov. 16-17, and the finals Monday and Tuesday, Nov. 23-24, all at the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls.

“In keeping player safety a priority, no Level 4 or Level 5 contact will be allowed once the playoffs begin,” the initial potential proposal reads.

Sources say another proposal to begin the playoffs on what ordinarily would be the final week of the regular season and play postseason games only on Friday also is being considered by the IFCA. Teams that don’t qualify for the playoffs would then have an opportunity to play one more game on that first-round night.

The current playoff system sees 16 schools in each class qualifying for the playoffs, with RPI used predominantly in setting brackets. The IHSAA does not have to consider or OK any proposal the IFCA brings forth.

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