Iowa High School Football Rule Changes for 2020 Announced

On Friday, the Iowa High School Athletic Association (IHSAA) announced their plan for football in 2020.

 Football is different from other sports the IHSAA and Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union (IGHSAU) offer to high school students. Only a select amount of teams qualify for the postseason – which is set by regular season results – and if schools have to pause their football season due to COVID-19, that could affect them making the postseason.

“To better prepare for the 2020 varsity football season, the IHSAA developed a revised schedule plan which allows for member school adjustments due to COVID-19,” an IHSAA spokesperson said. They continued by saying, “football remains the only Iowa high school sport with regular-season schedules and postseason qualifying managed by the IHSAA.” 

The revised plan considers flexibility for school return concerns, geography, postseason qualifying, transportation, and possible COVID-19 cases. The first practice (August 10) and first competition (August 27) dates are currently unchanged in this revision, as are the weeks for state semifinals (November 13-15) and finals (November 20-21).

Schools were also notified that they wouldn’t be penalized for missing games. The IHSAA said, “the revised plan does not penalize teams with a loss or forfeit due to state, county, or local health department COVID-19 determinations. They continued, “a missed game due to COVID-19 will be considered a “no contest” and will not be made up. 

So what’s new?

Regular season: The regular season will be adjusted to a seven-week regular season. Teams will have the option of scheduling five, six, or seven games within those seven weeks.

Postseason: Instead of using the RPI to determine what teams make the postseason, all teams in all classes will qualify. Brackets will consist of six rounds for each class. The IHSAA will determine postseason pairings with geography, quality, and team availability as primary considerations. This is intended to be a one-time measure for postseason formatting.

Eight-player: The IHSAA announced that other than the playoff change, not a lot will change with eight-player. Teams will play Week 3 through Week 9 of their previously announced schedules in what is now Week 1 through Week 7. Due to the number of teams in the classification, Eight-Player has opponents scheduled on the optional dates of Week 1 and Week 2. Teams in eight-player may opt-out of those contests, but may not change opponents or locations unless an agreement is reached with all participating teams and the IHSAA.

As we saw with Belmond-Klemme and Eagle Grove this summer, schools will again be able to decide not to play football this season. The IHSAA has set a deadline of August 17th for schools to opt-out of the 2020 football season. 

Notable rescheduled games:

Aug. 28th – West Hancock vs Garner-Hayfield-Ventura

Aug. 28th – Forest City vs Lake Mills

Sept. 4th – Forest City vs West Hancock

This revised plan was approved by the IHSAA Board of Control on Friday. The IHSAA announced they will release further fall season and sport-specific guidance next week. 

Revised Schedules

Forest City

8/28 @Lake Mills – 17th meeting

9/4 Vs West Hancock – 13th meeting

9/25 Roland-Story – 1st meeting

10/2 Clear Lake – 91st meeting

10/9 @ West Marshall, State Center – 1st meeting

10/16 Iowa Falls-Alden – 9th meeting of schools in the district

10/23 @Hampton-Dumont-CAL – 24th meeting of schools in the district


Friday, Aug. 28              @ West Fork                            7:00 pm

Friday, Sept. 4               Lake Mills @ BK                       7:00 pm

Friday, Sept. 11             @ Southeast Valley                  7:00 pm

Friday, Sept. 18            @ Clarion Goldfield Dows         7:00 pm

Friday, Sept. 25              Eagle Grove @ BK                  7:00 pm

Friday, Oct. 2                 Pocahontas Area @ BK           7:00 pm

Friday, Oct. 9                 @ South Central Calhoun        7:00 pm

West Hancock

Aug. 28 — vs. Garner-Hayfield-Ventura

Sept. 4 — at Forest City

Sept. 11 — vs. Bishop Garrigan, Algona

Sept. 18 — vs. St. Edmond, Fort Dodge

Sept. 25 — at Alta/Aurelia

Oct. 2 — vs. North Union

Oct. 9 — at Manson Northwest Webster

Lake Mills

Aug. 28 — vs. Forest City

Sept. 4 — at Belmond-Klemme

Sept. 11 — vs. North Butler

Sept. 18 — vs. Nashua-Plainfield

Sept. 25– at Newman Catholic, Mason City

Oct. 2 — vs. West Fork, Sheffield

Oct. 9 — at Saint Ansgar

North Iowa

Aug. 28 — at Northwood-Kensett

Sept. 4 — at Riceville

Sept. 11 — vs. Janesville

Sept. 18 — at AGWSR, Ackley

Sept. 25 — vs. Kee, Lansing

Oct. 2 — vs. Clarksville

Oct. 9 — at Turkey Valley, Jackson Junction

Mason City High 

Aug. 28 — at Marshalltown 

Sept. 4 — vs Fort Dodge 

Sept. 11 — vs Gilbert  

Sept. 18 — vs Boone

Sept. 25 — @ Webster City 

Oct. 2 — vs Humboldt 

Oct. 9 — @ Ballard



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