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Published: 8/22/2012

HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL PREVIEW

Next season will see change to 7 divisions

BY STEVE JUNGA
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

The structure of the Ohio High School Athletic Association football playoffs have been a work in progress since being adopted in 1972, and the 2013 season will arrive with an expanded format.

Next year the OHSAA will go to a seven-division format that has been implemented to level the playing field in Division I, which has had the largest range in enrollment figures from the largest D-I schools to the smallest.

The change, approved last April by the association's board of directors, retains only the top 10 percent of schools (72 total), based on enrollment, in Division I.

The remaining 644 schools with football programs will be divided into six divisions (II through VII), averaging approximately 108 in each.

Based on the OHSAA's computer playoff rankings, the top 32 teams in all seven divisions will qualify for the state's five-round playoff tournament.

The new statewide enrollment ranges will be compiled and verified by the Ohio Department of Education during the fall portion of the 2012-13 school year. Those numbers will then be used to determine the new divisional alignments based on a school's number of boys in grades 9-11 in the fall.

A sample of the divisional breakdown for the 2013 and 2014 football seasons was prepared by the OHSAA in an April news release, but these numbers are only projections and are not official:

Division I (600 or more); Division II (410-599); Division III (288 to 409); Division IV (216 to 287); Division V (159 to 215); Division VII (158 or less).

The new format increases the total number of teams qualifying for the state playoffs from 192 to 224.

This is the first change to the format since 1999, when the number of teams qualifying for postseason play in each division was expanded from 16 to 32.

The OHSAA playoffs were adopted in 1972, when just four teams in classes AAA, AA and A earned berths, a total of 12 teams statewide. In 1980, the structure changed to five divisions (I through V), and the playoff field increased to eight teams in each division.

In 1985, the number of divisional berths increased from eight to 16 teams, and in 1994 a sixth division was added. The last adjustment, before the 2013 format, came in 1999 when each divisional field jumped from 16 to 32 teams.

Scott was Toledo's first playoff team in Class AAA in 1972. The Bulldogs lost in the semifinals, 23-15, to eventual state champion Warren Western Reserve.

St. Francis de Sales became the first City League team to reach a state final, falling 12-0 to Youngstown Mooney in Division II in 1982.

Coach Dick Cromwell's Knights (12-1) went all the way two years later, beating North Canton Hoover 17-14 in the 1984 Division I title game.

St. Francis (13-1) and Cromwell added a second championship in 2001, beating Columbus Watterson 28-14 in the Division II title game.

Greg Dempsey's 14-1 Central Catholic squad became the CL's third state champion in 2005, edging Canfield 31-29 in the D-II final.

Southview became the first Northern Lakes League team to win a state crown, beating Cincinnati Anderson 29-25 in the 2008 Division II final to complete a perfect 15-0 season under coach Jim Mayzes.

Five other area schools have won state football championships, with Fostoria winning two.

Coach Dick Kidwell's Redmen won D-II titles in 1991, beating Uniontown Lake 21-6, and in 1996, topping Akron Buchtel 14-6.

Four Northwest Ohio Athletic League teams have won state titles, with Archbold taking the D-V crown in 1988, Wauseon capturing the D-III title in 1993, Liberty Center winning in D-V in 1997, and Patrick Henry earning a D-V championship in 2005.

 

2012 OHIO DIVISIONS

Division I (494 or more): Anthony Wayne 510, Bowsher 588, Findlay 679, Southview 506, St. John's 614, Start 590, Waite 515, Whitmer 833.

Division II (327 to 493): Bowling Green 363, Central Catholic 374, Clay 474, Fremont Ross 470, Maumee 403, Northview 435, Perrysburg 485, Rogers 381, Scott 342, Springfield 433, St. Francis 437, Woodward 368.

Division III (243 to 326): Bryan 245, Napoleon 266, Port Clinton 245, Rossford 247, Wauseon 260.

Division IV (172 to 242): Delta 191, Eastwood 237, Fostoria 206, Genoa 205, Lake 209, Oak Harbor 218, Otsego 216, Swanton 181.

Division V (120 to 171): Archbold 168, Elmwood 148, Evergreen 166, Gibsonburg 120, Lakota 126, Liberty-Benton 160, Liberty Center 165, Northwood 122, Patrick Henry 130, Van Buren 128, Woodmore 152.

Division VI (119 or less): Arcadia 65, Cardinal Stritch 81, Danbury 55, Edon 67, Fostoria St. Wendelin 55, Fremont St. Joseph 67, Hilltop 83, Holgate 53, McComb 101, Montpelier 111, North Baltimore 82, Ottawa Hills 119, Toledo Christian 60.



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