March 05, 2021

Changes coming to high school football

State wrestling will look different, too

The high school football landscape will look different in the coming years.

The Iowa High School Athletic Association announced last week that it was adding a seventh class and the postseasons will look different as well.

Based on last year’s BEDS numbers, PCM’s Mustangs will stay in Class 2A. And barring a drastic change from last year, they should remain in 2A no matter what.

There will be 48 2A schools and they will play an eight-game regular season schedule with 32 teams making the postseason.

“I just don’t know what they accomplished,” PCM football coach and activities director Greg Bonnett said. “They told us adding a class was a way to get more teams into the playoffs. That may be true. But you still only have 16 in the top three classes so I’m not sure that it really does.”

The new 5A class will feature the largest 36 schools in the state. The lower end of that list, based on this year’s numbers, includes Ottumwa and Urbandale.

Class 4A will have the next biggest 36 schools. The two smallest schools based on this year’s numbers are Keokuk and North Polk with Indianola and Fort Dodge being a few of the largest 4A programs.

Class 3A is the next 36 largest schools after that. Some of the bigger programs in 3A could be Winterset, Harlan, Gilbert and Grinnell. Some 2020 2A programs expected to bump up to 3A include Saydel, Solon, Atlantic, Clear Lake and Mount Vernon. Clarke is on the border of 3A and 2A and could be the smallest 3A or one of the largest 2As.

Class 2A could now include two-time defending champion OABCIG as well as Panorama.

PCM’s most recent football districts could almost be unchanged as schools like Albia, Davis County, Centerville, Chariton, Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont and Des Moines Christian are all still 2A based on this year’s numbers.

Saydel, who was in PCM’s district recently, will move up but could be replaced by DMC, EBF or Davis County.

In 5A, 4A and 3A, the programs will play nine games and the playoffs will include 16 teams in each class. Class 2A, 1A, A and 8-man all will have eight-game schedules and 32 playoff qualifiers.

While Bonnett is not sure what the new format accomplishes, he does have another thought on why the IHSAA went in the direction it did.

“One thing it for sure does is gets the state association more money,” Bonnett said. “With all the transfer stuff this past year, they have a ton of attorney fees. I think they are concerned about that. I think they took the opportunity to make some money off it.

“If they wanted to get rid of the disparity between programs, I don’t think this did that.”

Another announcement made by the IHSAA last week involved the state wrestling tournaments happening in February.

The IHSAA announced it was going to allow fans into the event at Wells Fargo Arena, but the number would be capped at 4,000 fans per session. Ticket prices also are going up to $15 per session leading up to the finals, which will be $20.

Also, they are not allowing cheerleaders into the event as participants.

“I am glad they are letting some fans in. I think it will be all right. At least they are wrestling,” Bonnett said. “Our cheerleaders have expected this I think. They haven’t been able to go to tournaments very much all year. It’s been an awful year for them. It’s become the norm and it stinks.”