Football battle lines redrawn
By John Burbridge
What’s the difference between a “district” and a “group”?
The former “groups” together Iowa’s 8-Player to Class 3A football teams which vie for district championships; the latter “groups” together the Class 4A teams with no district titles on the line, only at-large playoff berths.
Confused? Well, at least it’s not the Iowa Caucuses.
District and group football assignments were released after Wednesday’s special meeting of the Iowa High School Athletic Association Board of Control.
Notably, there are six new 8-Player teams including the addition of Clarksville, which co-oped with North Butler for the past two seasons but now is going it alone.
Clarksville has been placed in 8-Player-District 2 that includes 2018 state runner-up Rockford as well as AGWSR, Janesville, Northwood-Kensett, North Iowa, Riceville, Tripoli and Turkey Valley/Jackson Junction.
Eight-Player 2019 state champion Don Bosco is no longer in the same district as Rockford, which interrupted the Dons’ string of titles with an upset victory in the 2018 quarterfinals.
North Butler, which was a Class 1A team with Clarksville the last two seasons, has been moved down to Class A where it will be in District 3 with Lake Mills, Nashua-Plainfield, Newman Catholic, Saint Ansgar and West Fork.
Charles City remains in Class 3A. Much of the Comets’ District 3 opponents are the same from the last two or more seasons — Decorah, Waterloo East, Waverly Shell-Rock and West Delaware. The aforementioned teams’ former district opponent, Independence — which went undefeated during the regular season — has been moved down to Class 2A.
Western Dubuque Epworth is the other Class 3A-District 3 team.
The Mustangs are not the only team to have had success last season before being moved down a class for 2020. Ida Grove OABCIG, last season’s Class 2A state champion, is now a Class 1A team.
The most dramatic changes have come in Class 4A, which is down to 40 teams after being cut to 42 from 48 in 2018 — Mason City is among the teams dropping from Class 4A to Class 3A.
A new “success model” schedule has been incorporated for Class 4A. The model is based on a program’s prowess over the last four seasons with Ratings Percentage Index and playoff success serving as indicators.
Teams will be “tiered” according to how they’re ranked within the model — Tier 1 (Ranked 1-7), Tier 2 (8-13), Tier 3 (14-20), Tier 4 (21-27), Tier 5 (28-34), Tier 6 (35-40).
The Class 4A “groups” do not consist of same-tier teams as every six-team group with the two 5-team groups being the exception has teams from each tier. And unlike district play, group play is not round robin.
Class 4A teams will play two “assigned games” against teams from similar tiers from other groups, and “group games” against teams within their groups.
As for these group games, Tier 1 plays Tiers 2, 3 and 4; Tier 2 plays Tiers 1, 3 and 5; Tier 3 plays Tiers 1, 2 and 6; Tier 4 plays Tiers 1, 5 and 6; Tier 5 plays Tiers 2, 4 and 6; and Tier 6 plays Tiers 3, 4 and 5.
(Probably should take back the quip about the Iowa Caucuses.)
For each class, there are 16 playoff qualifiers. As already mentioned, Class 4A will not have district or group champions as all 16 at-large qualifying spots will be determined by final RPI rankings.
Unlike previous two-year classification cycles, these classifications will be redrawn again in 2021.