OnFocus – The WIAA Board of Control will meet virtually on Friday and included on the agenda are several items relating to the delayed fall sports seasons.
Three big issues that schools are waiting on answers to relate to the football schedule, what the approved spring option would look like for teams that do not participate in fall sports, and what structure playoffs will take in all sports.
The WIAA made clear in their July Board of Control meeting that all seasons will end on time, meaning they have only 9 weeks for both regular season and playoffs in football. This most likely means a six-week regular season from September 25th-October 30th and a three-week playoff with games scheduled for November 6th, November 13th, and November 20th.
Two options that were discussed for football playoffs were to either have a smaller field by cutting the first two weeks of the playoffs that would normally happen on October 30th and October 23rd or do regional playoff tournaments and crown four regional champions rather than one state champion.
If they decided to crown a single state champion in each division, it would remove 24 teams from each 11 player division (168 overall) and 12 teams from 8-player. Using the 2019 playoff seeding as a guide 11 out of the 17 local teams that qualified in 2019 would not make it in the condensed playoffs with only Medford, Stratford, Amherst, Abbotsford, Edgar, and Newman Catholic making the cut.
The second option would be to crown 4 regional champions in 11-player and 2 regional champions in 8-player. Under this plan, the playoffs would end at what is now Level 3. Under this plan looking back at 2019, our area would have five regional title winners Stratford and Amherst in Division 5, Abbotsford in Division 6, Edgar in Division 7, and Newman Catholic in 8-player, along with a regional runner up in Division 3, Medford.
The spring option is the most nebulous, as it is hard to predict what could be done, but the best guess is a 6-week period running from the beginning of April to mid-May that would allow fall sports to play, then delay the spring sports season to a June and July schedule. The hard part is what to do with teams from schools that play in the fall, do they get an extra 6 weeks off after winter sports, or does the WIAA run two separate spring sports seasons?
The other hard-to-predict options for other fall sports are the playoffs. Outside of football, most other sports could easily still hold a full state tournament, as it is not hard to cut a few games out of their existing schedules. But does it make sense to limit cross-state travel for the playoffs? Two options that may be on the table to limit cross-state travel would be to adopt the regional champions plan that is an option for football, keeping teams in their local area. Option two is not to hold a single state championship at one site but instead to hold each division at a separate location around the state based on who is in the finals.
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