An unprecedented pandemic led to an unprecedented high school football season in the state of Ohio, and the state playoffs will reflect the dramatic change.

In a normal year, 224 schools across the Ohio High School Athletic Association’s seven divisions would qualify for a playoff spot. But because every team in the state was given the option of participating in the playoffs this season, that number swelled to 648, creating some awkward numbers in the organization’s 28 designated regions.

In an effort to complete the fall schedule before the cold and flu season takes hold, the postseason football tournament will begin this Friday with a huge slate of first round matchups, and will conclude by Nov. 22.

Last week, head coaches voted on the seeding for their respective regions. Last Thursday, the OHSAA placed teams in brackets according to their seeds. Most of the higher seeds in each region will have a first round bye this Friday, and will return to the field for the second round Oct. 16.

Divisions I, II, III and VII will play on Friday nights, while Divisions IV, V and VI will play on Saturdays. All games will begin at 7 p.m. In each of the first three rounds, the higher-seeded team will be given the option to host their game. The OHSAA will determine host sites for the regional finals, State semifinals and state championship games. Any team that is unable to play its scheduled playoff game will forfeit to its opponent.

Teams that either chose not to participate or get eliminated from the playoffs can continue to schedule regular season games until Nov. 14, with a maximum of 10 games allowed.

Locally, there will be a mix of first round contests and high-seeded teams that will have this Friday off.

This Friday’s area playoff games

Division I, Region 1

No. 16 Canton GlenOak at No. 1 St. Edward

Div. II, Region 6

No. 17 Midview at No. 16 North Olmsted

No. 20 Lakewood at No. 13 Barberton

No. 23 North Ridgeville at No. 10 Toledo St. Francis DeSales

No. 19 Westlake at No. 14 Wadsworth

Bye week: No. 1 Avon, No. 3 Avon Lake

Div. III, Region 10

No. 20 Lexington at No. 13 Rocky River

No. 19 Defiance at No. 14 Bay

This Saturday’s area playoff games

Div. IV, Region 14

No. 17 Lutheran West at No. 16 Galion

No. 22 Brookside at No. 11 Clyde

Div. V, Region 18

No. 19 Fairview at No. 14 Orrville

Contact this reporter at sports@westlifenews.com or 440-871-5797.

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