SCIOTO COUNTY — Looks like the second half is now the first —and might just be the only.
That’s because, with Wednesday’s announcement of the revised Southern Ohio Conference football schedules, the total dozen-team football conference will only play —perhaps — league games this year.
Following a meeting of SOC athletic directors on Tuesday, the revised schedule was released the next day — now with weeks two thru six consisting of only league affairs.
The conference, for football, is divided into two divisions of a half-dozen clubs — the “larger-school” SOC II and the “smaller-school” SOC I.
And, all 12 are allowed a non-league battle to open THIS season, as only Oak Hill in SOC II and East and Green in SOC I have yet to fill that new vacancy.
Starting with last season, Oak Hill —which had won at least a share of every SOC I championship for the past decade except for two years (2011 and 2016) — now plays in the SOC II.
As part of the formal proposal put together and released last 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 Friday 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.
While Wheelersburg (at Chillicothe), Minford (vs. Washington Court House) and Eastern (at McClain) are playing larger Frontier Athletic Conference schools for their openers, there are a couple of intra-county contests — with West hosting Notre Dame and Northwest venturing to Valley.
The others involve two larger schools —Granville at Waverly —and two smaller ones, South Gallia at Symmes Valley.
Speaking of Symmes Valley, the Vikings are the defending Division I champions — having knocked off host Northwest in the season finale last year.
On paper, many observers believe that matchup will once again be for the SOC I title — as the Mohawks have, by far, the most numbers of any SOC I squad.
Meanwhile, Wheelersburg is the six-time defending outright SOC II champion — having last lost a league tilt in 2013.
The Pirates were a 10-7 victim to Valley, which won the championship in back-to-back-to-back campaigns (2011, 2012 and 2013).
Since that defeat, the Pirates’ consecutive SOC II win streak stands at 26 — although Waverly and Minford are seen as the most serious challengers to their reign.
Kickoff times are set for 7 p.m.
* * *
Sept. 4 SOC II: Minford at Wheelersburg, West at Waverly, Valley at Oak Hill
Sept. 4 SOC I: Notre Dame at Northwest, Symmes Valley at Green, East at Eastern
Sept. 11 SOC II: West at Minford, Oak Hill at Wheelersburg, Waverly at Valley
Sept. 11 SOC I: Green at Notre Dame, Northwest at East, Eastern at Symmes Valley
Sept. 18 SOC II: Valley at West, Wheelersburg at Waverly, Minford at Oak Hill
Sept. 18 SOC I: Green at Northwest, Symmes Valley at East, Notre Dame at Eastern
Sept. 25 SOC II: Valley at Wheelersburg, Waverly at Minford, West at Oak Hill
Sept. 25 SOC I: East at Green, Eastern at Northwest, Symmes Valley at Notre Dame
Oct. 2 SOC II: Minford at Valley, Wheelersburg at West, Oak Hill at Waverly
Oct. 2 SOC I: East at Notre Dame, Northwest at Symmes Valley, Green at Eastern
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