OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – The Oklahoma Secondary Schools Activities Association announced changes Tuesday morning to this year’s Oklahoma High School Football Playoffs due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The association is shaking things up by allowing every single team in the state the opportunity to make their respective classes state title games.
“It was a very difficult decision,” said the association’s Associate Director, Mike Whaley.
Whaley said that when district play started among teams, they were seeing 25 to 28 game cancelations per week.
“We did not think at the very beginning that we would have as many games canceled as we have,” Whaley said.
So, the association laid out a new landscape for the playoffs Tuesday. It’s much different from the norm.
“This is a once in a lifetime scenario, I hope,” Whaley said.
According to Whaley, the decision to change it up came from all the game cancelations and the inability to make them all up.
“So, we settled on a play-in round,” he said.
One round for teams to matchup, go at it and see who makes it into their class’s playoff bracket.
“We will have a bracket that will have places on it for all the teams in each district, and then we will allow each school to decide whether they want to opt out or not,” Whaley said.
It’s a school’s decision if they want to play or not, according to Whaley. Coaches like Brett Bogert with Heritage Hall said he’s on board with the changes.
“I mean, I think it’s a good thing overall,” Bogert said. “It’s really giving a bunch of teams the opportunity that they might not otherwise have.”
Different matchup, seeding and/or ranking rules for teams depending on if you have missed games and slight championship date changes are also a part of the plan. You can find the full description of the changes on the OSSAA’s website.
However, if you get into the playoffs and have COVID-19 issues among your team, your playoff run is likely over.
“That team will be eliminated from the series,” Whaley said.
This means the team that lost to the team having COVID-19 issues in the prior round of the playoffs can take their place if they choose to. Bogert said it’s different, for sure. However, he said at least they’re playing ball with an added chance at winning a title.
“A group of seniors can get one last game, the 2020 team is going to get at a bare minimum if they want to do it at least one more time to go out there on a Friday night together,” Bogert said. “In the grand scheme of things, that’s what it’s all about.”
The OSSAA is also allowing teams that get eliminated from the playoffs to make up any games they missed week to week. They are allowed to do this up to the date of their class’ state title game.