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All Ohio high school grid playoffs may be Fridays

Exception is title games in Canton

By CHRIS BEAVEN Canton Repository Published: May 17, 2017 1:00 AM
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COLUMBUS -- Friday Night Lights could be the rule for the high school football state playoffs as soon as this season.

The Ohio High School Athletic Association's board of directors will hear a presentation next month to play state playoff games for all seven divisions on Fridays for the first four rounds. In the past, games have been split between Fridays and Saturdays.

"There's a strong belief they have the sites and officials to do this and do this well," OHSAA Commissioner Dan Ross said Wednesday.

Ross spoke during a meeting with the OHSAA Media Advisory Committee and said the plan "may be voted on in June [and take effect] this fall."

It would not change the schedule for the state championship games. Those seven games will be played Nov. 30 to Dec. 3 at the new Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton.

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Assorted factors have created a push among coaches and others to move all games in the first four rounds to Fridays.

Coaches want to stay with their normal routine of playing on Friday nights. For administrators, securing sites for Saturday night games has become more and more problematic in recent years.

"It's hard for them to get workers because everyone wants to stay home and watch college football," Ross said.

And Saturday college football leads to perhaps the biggest reason a change could be coming: Coaches, administrators and players all like playing in front of the bigger crowds that generally attend Friday night games as opposed to Saturday nights.

"Numbers from the Friday night vs. the Saturday night are significantly different," Ross said of attendance figures in recent years.

Ross likes the idea of making the switch. "I like it because that's what I hear from schools, that's what I hear from coaches and that's what I hear from kids," he said.

Ross said moving all the games to Friday would not have been possible even five years ago, but there's "more sites available and an uptick in Class 1 officials [to officiate all the games on one night]."

The commissioner is of the view to "give it a try and see how it works. Go through it once ... [and see] what are some of the positives, what are some of the negatives."

The state finals return to Stark County this season after being played at Ohio Stadium in Columbus the past three seasons. Ross is excited for the games to be back at the new Benson Stadium.

"All the modifications they've made to the facility itself are all going to be wonderful because they all meet NFL standards," Ross said.


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