Ohio should rethink long football season

It’s that time of year when the youth of the Mahoning Valley and all over Ohio are spending their days sweating through drill after drill on the practice fields in preparation for the high school football season that will kick off even earlier than we’re accustomed to.

And, for the third straight year, we again will be heading into what will be one of the longest varsity football seasons ever. That comes due to the extended playoffs brought about by the 16-team playoff picture first instituted in 2021. That’s twice as many teams as were included prior to 2021.

We opposed the expanded playoff plan then, and our opinion has not changed.

Undoubtedly, it’s very nice to see more Mahoning Valley football teams and local high school athletes continuing their seasons. But let’s be honest. These are high school students expected to begin their season in hot summer practices, and if they are successful, still hope to be playing in November.

This extended season means high school athletes who advance through the playoffs and to the state championship game would play 16 games without a bye week. Think about that. College and NFL players don’t even do that.

In fact, the long high school season was so excruciating on teenage players that some schools worked in their own unofficial bye weeks by not filling vacancies created in their regular seasons when opponents unexpectedly canceled. Normally, coaches and athletic directors would work hard and with great urgency to fill such vacancies, but last year, a few local teams opted instead to skip a game that week in order to rest student-athletes’ bodies.

Some local high school coaches have argued that if the Ohio High School Athletic Association wanted to expand the playoff picture, why didn’t it go from eight playoff teams per region to 12, rather than doubling that number to 16?

We believe that’s a logical compromise.

Ohio should go back to a more reasonable and logical reduced playoff schedule before the start of next year’s football season — 12 playoff teams per region sounds like a much more logical number.

While we know it’s too late for this year, we renew our argument that scaling back the number of high school playoff teams per region is something the OHSAA should reconsider now, well before the start of next year’s football season.


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)
Are you a paying subscriber to the newspaper? *

Starting at $2.99/week.

Subscribe Today