COLUMBUS — Playoff football in Ohio is about to get a little more hectic.
On Thursday, the Ohio High School Athletic Association has approved the creation of a seventh division in football. The change would revamp the qualifications for different levels and add 32 more teams to the regional playoffs.
Under the new set-up, which will take effect in 2013, the top 10 percent of schools based on male enrollment would comprise Division I. The other six divisions would be split evenly among the remaining 90 percent of schools. This would leave 72 schools in Division I and about 108 schools in Divisions II through VII.
Currently there are about 120 schools in each division.
“Adding a seventh division not only helps address the enrollment disparity in Division I, but it also will create 32 more tournament opportunities for student-athletes, their schools and their communities, many of which have never or rarely experienced the playoffs,” OHSAA Commissioner Daniel B. Ross said.
In Knox County, the move would most directly affect Mount Vernon, which would remain in Division II but would no longer be near the Division I threshhold. OHSAA’s most recent numbers list Mount Vernon’s male enrollment as 490. Based on the current system, a school needs 494 to qualify for Division I. Under the new system, that number jumps to 600.
Mount Vernon head coach Anthony Naples isn’t concerned with how the divisions line up.
“We play who we play,” said Naples. “We just have to schedule who we can to get into the playoffs. Our goal is to win the conference and get in. We just have to do what we do.”
Highland and Utica would remain Division IV, and East Knox would remain Division V. However, Centerburg and Fredericktown would move to Division VI, while Danville would go to Division VII.
Danville’s most recent enrollment is 92. The school would need 112 to climb to Division VI.
“We will always be Division VII,” said Danville principal and head football coach Ed Honabarger, joking about being the smallest school in the area. “If they made 20 divisions, we’d be in Division 20.”