BBONE — The Iowa High School Athletic Association announced Wednesday the new football districts that will be in place for the next two seasons on the gridiron.
One of the biggest changes is a move to only 16 playoff qualifiers instead of 32, a move that now places the first round and quarterfinals of the postseason on Friday’s, instead of the old Wednesday/Monday/Friday format for the first two rounds and the quarterfinals.
Each class will qualify the top two teams in their district, but there is a catch — in classes A through 3A there are now seven districts of eight teams instead of eight districts of seven. Therefore, each of those classes will also qualify two at-large teams, based on a lengthy set of criteria.
The 13-point system (additional playoff points were awarded for wins of 13 or more points) has now been changed to 17 points and, with the elimination of so-called “sister” districts, each class will be bracketed for the playoffs, teams now knowing their possible opponents ahead of time.
Additionally, the 125-mile limit for first round games has been put aside, opening the door for what potentially could be long opening-round road trips for some teams.
Schools with less than 115 students in their BED count (the total number of students currently in grades 9-12) may opt to play eight-player football. The new alignments have six districts of eight teams and two — both in the northeastern section of the state — with seven teams.
Class 4A remains at the largest 48 schools, who are now divided into six-team districts.
Perry will remain in Class 3A District 2, but will face several different teams. Ballard, Boone, DC-G, Gilbert, Greene County, Iowa Falls-Alden (up from 2A District 6) and Webster City comprise the new-look D2. Ballard, DC-G and Gilbert replace Algona, Carroll and Humboldt, with IF-A being an addition as the district grew from seven teams to eight. Perry will play two non-district contests.
“I think this makes sense so that we do not play non-district games late in the year,” Perry head coach Jason Olejniczak said. “This is a great district for us as far as travel goes and hopefully we will get two close non-district games. It will be a tough district, with Webster City still in it and with the addition of DC-G.”
Woodward-Granger remains one of the smaller Class 1A schools at only four students above the cut-off. They will be joined in District 5 by Central Decatur, Des Moines Christian, Interstate-35, Mount Ayr, Pella Christian, Pleasantville and Woodward Academy. Mt. Ayr and Plesantville were in Class A D8 last season. W-G loses Panorama, Southwest Valley and Van Meter off their schedule; they will play two non-district games.
“This is about what I expected,” W-G head coach George Ashman said. “I have a big map in my classroom and it is color-coded based on the class of each school, so when the new classifications came out I kind of guessed who we would be paired with.”
“I was somewhat surprised with Pella Christian and Pleasantville coming in,” he added. “I new we would be going south, but I thought Van Meter or Panorama might stay in with us.”
Ashman noted the Hawks will return between eight and 10 starting letter winners this fall, but that only two would be seniors.
“We will be young but have some experience,” he said. “There are some good teams in this district but we can hold our own. It will be up to us to show what we can do and how good we can be.”
The following are the BEDs numbers (in descending order) for the new districts Perry and W-G find themselves in:
Class 3A District 2 — DC-G (570), Boone (551), Perry (424), Webster City (415), Ballard (409), Greene County (353), Gilbert (337) and Iowa Falls-Alden (318).
Class 1A District 5 — Interstate-35 (200), Pella Christian (200), Des Moines Christian (191), Woodward Academy (191), Pleasantville (179), Mt. Ayr (167), Central Decatur (163) and W-G (161).