Coronavirus forced the IHSAA to institute a seven-game regular season for prep football, with every team will qualify for the postseason. Or, at least, every team not self-suspended, due to COVID issues or, as in the case of the Des Moines Public Schools, having been forced to end their seasons by going to full-time off-campus instruction.
The postseason will look slightly different bases on class, chiefly because of the number of teams in each.
Perhaps the easiest way to visualize what awaits prep teams beginning Oct. 16 are 16 mini-brackets, or quartets, of four-teams each.
Des Moines Hoover dropped to 3A this season, but DM East, North, Lincoln, and Roosevelt remain in 4A. That lowers 4A from 40 teams to 36, creating eight teams playing in the first round while 28 will receive opening round byes.
Class 3A, 2A, and 1A each have 54 teams (the loss of Hoover lowering 3A to 53). Each would have 10 teams receiving first-round byes.
With nine districts in those classes, the nine district champs, and a 10th at-large team, would all receive opening byes.
Only five teams would be given byes in Class A, which has 59 teams. With 10 districts in Class A, it is uncertain which five champs would have a bye and which five champs would not.
The 8-Player bracket has, by what some might consider good fortune, fallen into a easy 64-team, six-round bracket without byes. With an initial count of 67 teams, the number was reduced when Clarksville canceled the remainder of their schedule and two as-yet-unrevealed south-central Iowa teams chose to skip the postseason. Those two schools have instead be granted permission to face each other in a week eight contest.
The IHSAA will try and pair groups, based to a large extent on geography, into 16 groups per class. The goal, which is not guaranteed, will be to pair teams from different districts in the first and second rounds, played Oct. 16 and Oct. 23, but that might not always be possible.
Teams with the best results in the regular season will almost certainly play at home in the first two round and might do so, depending upon outcomes and geography, through round four.
The 16 “quartet” champions will then be reseeded into four brackets of four teams apiece, with the “Sweet 16” games played Oct. 30 and the “Elite Eight” or quarterfinals, set for Nov. 7.
Once the final 16 teams in each class are determined the IHSAA will try and avoid district rematches. Teams will not receive awards for being a playoff qualifier unless they advance to round of 16.
Here are how the scenarios will work if COVID-related issues should arise:
If Team A has a positive case during the postseason their game with Team B will be canceled. It will be declared a no-contest, with Team B automatically advancing.
If Team A beats Team B in the first round, but then has a positive case, will Team B allowed to come back? No. Team C would then receive a free advancement from the second round and into the round of 32.
Teams will be judged only on games they played. For instance, a 4-0 team will be viewed more favorably than a 5-2 team.
So far the UNI-Dome is concerned, the state semifinals (Nov. 12-14) and state championships (19-20) will continue as planned, but with limitations on attendance.
The stadium has a seating capacity of nearly 15,000, but IHSAA officials insist social distancing will reduce crowd size to no more than 6,000 for each game.
There will be a 3-1/2 hour slate for playing semifinal games — at 9 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 4 p.m. and then 7:30 p.m. The UNI-Dome will be cleared out after every game, with the turf, benches and all seats sanitized.
Admission, set by the IHSAA, is as follows: $6 for first and second-round games, $8 for third round and quarterfinal contests, and $10 for the state semifinals and state championships.
Overall record listed first, district mark follows. All records as of Oct. 5
Class 3A District 8
DC-G 5-0 3-0
Winterset 5-1 3-0
ADM 2-4 1-2
Norwalk 1-5 1-3
Perry 0-6 0-4
DM Hoover 1-0 (season cancelled)
Class 2A District 9
Atlantic 5-1 4-0
Greene Cnty 4-2 3-1
DMC 3-1 1-1
Shenandoah 3-3 1-2
Clarinda 2-4 2-2
Red Oak 0-6 0-4
Class 1A District 8
Van Meter 6-0 4-0
W-G 5-1 3-1
Panorama 4-2 3-1
AC/GC 2-4 1-3
Kuemper 1-5 1-3
WCV 1-5 0-4
Class A District 8
Earlham 3-2 2-0
Madrid 2-2 1-0
Nod Valley 2-5 1-2
Ogden 2-2 1-1
Wayne 0-4 0-2
Wd Acad (opted to skip season)