PROCTORVILLE — Call it a “super six”, or just call it the Ohio Valley Conference football schedule for the 2020 season.
Of course, the OVC slate includes the Portsmouth Trojans, as the conference’s athletic directors — including Portsmouth High School’s Joe Albrecht — approved and released a revised six-game conference-only schedule on Monday.
Jeff Gorby, Fairland High School’s Athletic Director, confirmed the updated OVC schedules on Monday night.
As part of the formal proposal put together and released on Friday from the Ohio High School Athletic Association, all Ohio high school football teams will play only six games in this regular season —which will begin the week of Aug. 24 and end the week of Sept. 28.
That press release proceeded an e-mailed memo to member schools from OHSAA interim Executive Director Bob Goldring, as he wrote that “while affirming that our fall sports seasons will start as planned, the modification will shorten the length of the 2020 football regular season to a six‐game schedule prior to the playoffs beginning.”
The playoffs would begin on Friday, Oct. 9 — with the state finals ending no later than Saturday, Nov. 21.
Speaking of the playoffs, “all football‐playing schools will now be eligible to enter the 2020 playoffs. Schools also will be afforded the opportunity to play 10 total regular-season contests — whether they continue regular-season games after they are eliminated from the playoffs or should they decide not to enter the playoffs — as long as they complete their season by Nov. 14. This raises the possibility of schools generating some revenue through gate receipts, and allowing schools to play after being eliminated from the playoffs is similar to regulations that already exist for many other OHSAA sports. Additionally, this means schools that may be delayed in starting their seasons could still have a football season.”
So schools can play up to 10 regular-season games if they so choose, and only after they are eliminated from the state playoffs, but it takes at least six games to automatically qualify for this season’s postseason.
Teams also have the option of declining the playoffs’ participation, and can simply play up to 10 regular-season games.
The final date to play any and all regular-season games is set for Saturday, Nov. 14.
Of course, the entire OHSAA plan is dependent upon the approval of Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, who as of Tuesday morning has not permitted inter-school scrimmages or contests for “full contact” sports.
As for what prompted this surprising turn of events only a week into official practice?
Goldring wrote that the OHSAA, “in continuing our constructive, ongoing conversations with the Governor’s Office, we were advised this week that ending our season earlier in football was in the best interest of the participants due to the uncertainty of what colder weather could do to COVID‐19 cases. It should be noted (and as previously communicated) that school vs. school competition in football (and the other contact sports of soccer and field hockey) will not move forward unless the Ohio Director of Health’s Order is amended.”
The OHSAA BOD approved the measure by a unanimous 9‐0 vote, and following a recommendation from the OHSAA staff —which followed DeWine’s recommendation that the regular season stop earlier.
As part of this plan, the Harbin Computer Ratings to determine playoff qualifiers will not be used for the 2020 season and instead a seeding system via voting of coaches — similar to what occurs with other OHSAA team sports — will be utilized to place teams on the bracket of their respective divisions.
Per a report which appeared in Tuesday’s edition of The Portsmouth Daily Times, the Ohio High School Football Coaches Association was not consulted about the OHSAA’s plan.
The OVC features eight schools, as Portsmouth joined the primarily Lawrence County-based league five years ago.
A year later, Gallia Academy officially entered the OVC, as Coal Grove (2017), Gallia Academy (2018) and Ironton (2019) have captured the league championship in each of the past three seasons.
This season’s OVC schedule features each team’s original week-five through week-10 opponents — although they are now flipped, so their initial week-10 tilt is now the season opener.
In addition, there is one opponent that will not be on each team’s slate — as original week-four foe Rock Hill is that squad for the Trojans.
Portsmouth hosts highly-touted and defending Division V state runner-up Ironton (Aug. 28) in its opener, as it then travels to South Point (Sept. 4) prior to facing Fairland (Sept. 11) at home.
The Trojans then travel to Chesapeake (Sept. 18) and Coal Grove (Sept. 25), before hosting Gallia Academy in the now new regular-season finale.
The Gallia Academy-Ironton affair has resulted in the last two champions and runners-up, and is once again the perceived marquee matchup in this OVC season.
The Trojans, thanks to their 35-28 triumph over the Fighting Tigers, tied Ironton for second-place in the league two years ago.
Portsmouth’s now nixed non-league bouts include at Valley and at Wellston, sandwiched around welcoming West.
Speaking of Valley and West, they are members of the Southern Ohio Conference, which was set to meet on Tuesday afternoon to decide upon a season schedule.
Reach Paul Boggs at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1926, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @BoggsSports © 2020 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved