Just before the end of the regular season for high school football, the Ohio High School Football Coaches Association passed out a survey asking about expanding the current playoff format.
The survey has created a series of discussions and has Henry County coaches differing on what is best for Ohio high school football.
The OHSFCA survey asked about expanding qualifiers in each region from the current eight teams to 12, with the top four teams (by the Harbin point totals) receiving first-round byes. The football season would maintain its current 10-game regular season format and shorten the preseason. The playoffs would conclude on the current corresponding dates.
In Henry County, only Napoleon coach Tory Strock was in favor of the change, with Liberty Center coach Casey Mohler and Patrick Henry coach Bill Inselmann against. With Holgate making the switch to eight-man football, Tiger coach Colton Wagner was not asked.
“I am strongly in favor of it,” said Strock, whose Wildcats have not made the postseason since 2013. “I am for it for the reason that we play in a Division II and I conference and our margin for error is very slim.
“I can promise you not many teams would want to play us in the first round even though we are 5-5,” continued Strock, whose Cats finished 18th in its region this season. “I am a proponent of what is best for the kids and this rewards teams that play tough schedules.”
Liberty Center and Patrick Henry are both part of the Northwest Ohio Athletic League, which is sending four teams to the playoffs this season. Archbold and Wauseon are also in the postseason.
It is the second time in league history that four teams have qualified for the playoffs. The NWOAL has sent three teams in the same season 11 other times since 1993.
Both Mohler and Inselmann were against the proposal.
“I am not a guy that likes changes,” said Mohler, whose Tigers are making their 19th appearance in the postseason. “I look and there are some teams, even in our own division, that are making the playoffs with 5-5 records. If you expand the playoffs then teams with below .500 records could make it.”
“I think that the playoffs should be difficult to get in to,” added Inselmann, whose Patriots qualified for the postseason for the 18th time. “The system as it is allows for the best teams to get in and play other great teams, and that sets up a difficult bracket. I would hate to see that be diluted by adding teams to the field.”
Mohler, whose Tigers are a second seed this year, was also not thrilled by the idea of having a bye week.
“To not play a week gets you out of your routine,” said the LC coach. “Two weeks is a long time to not play a game. If you have a lot of injuries you can get healed, but it will take you out of your routine as well.”
This season, for the first time since 2001, an undefeated team did not make the postseason. In fact, two teams — Northwood in Division V and Gibsonburg in Division VI — with 10-0 records failed to qualify for the postseason.
However, the survey was sent out before the final postseason numbers were tallied and therefore those teams not making the playoffs were not a reason for the survey.
Ohio High School Athletic Association Director Jerry Snodgrass made clear on Twitter the results of the survey are not binding to any change in the playoff system.
“Important to note,” Tweeted Snodgrass, “this is a proposal by the OHSFCA as noted. Important that before proposals are voted on by our board of directors that (our) school employees from all areas, and sizes of schools, feedback is obtained from the schools.”
Snodgrass re-iterated his position in a follow-up Tweet, “We require feedback from our school administrators who actually govern us.”
So for now, the playoffs remain eight teams in each region. The future is uncertain.