Qualifying for football playoffs could become more difficult with new regional breakdown

Eric Miller | Online Sports Editor

The competition to get into the OHSAA state football playoffs just got even stiffer. In a decision made on April 14, the Ohio High School Athletic Association (OHSAA) approved a move from two regions in Division I football back to four regions. The decision reversed a move made in 2013 to make Division I the only Division in Ohio high school football to utilize only two regions. Divisions II-VII all currently use four regions to determine their playoff teams. Head football coach Brian Castner said the idea was proposed by the State’s governing body and not by any Cincinnati area coaches.

“The State Administration, OHSAA their officers brought it up,” Castner said. “It was not any of the coaches down here in the city (of Cincinnati) that’s for sure.”

Up through the 2015 season, OHSAA Division I football was divided into two 36 team regions; a north and a south region that each had 16 teams qualify for the postseason. The new format will divide the State into four 18 team regions that will each qualify eight teams for the postseason. The Comets will be a join newly formed Region 4. Region 4 will be made up of the 10 team GMC, the four team Greater Catholic League (GCL), Centerville, Northmont and Lebanon of the Greater Western Ohio Conference (GWOC) and Western Hills of the Cincinnati Metro Athletic Conference. Region 4 will include six playoff teams from 2015, making the room for error ever so small when it comes to qualifying for the postseason. Castner said he, along with other Cincinnati area coaches, felt the two region method was more fair to Southwest Ohio.

“We felt the old system, which was two regions, was more fair to us here in the city,” Castner said. “We feel the city of Cincinnati is the marquee for depth of talented teams, the depth of competitive teams. The Columbus area doesn’t have two of the best leagues in that area. We feel that we have two of the best in the State of Ohio and that’s the GMC and the GCL.  They don’t necessarily have that up (in Columbus).”

The move to four regions will bring back a traditional Regional Championship game in round three of the playoffs. Under the two region plan, the Regional Championship also served as the State Semi-Final game. Castner said his team is prepared to move forward and handle the changes.

“It’s a grind to get out (of this region) but they made the change,” Castner said. “We’ll deal with it and go from there.”

The Comets open the 2016 season on August 26 at home against Springboro.