Changes coming to Iowa High School foootball
“Some disappointment,” was how Lake Mills Football Head Coach Bill Byrnes initially reacted to the sweeping changes for high school football in 2018.
In addition to the every other year district realignment, next year will also usher in changes to the post-season.
“Basically none of the recommendations from the Iowa Football Coaches Association and the Football Advisory Council were heard,” he added. “We were hoping for 24 team or 32 team play-off.” Instead, what they got was the institution of an RPI system, in which strength of schedule and quality of wins and losses will play a determining role in the playoff qualifiers. Byrnes said, “I guess I don’t mind that all games count towards the playoff, however you are not totally in control of who you play in non-district games, as the state matches you up with teams you would like to play; but there are no guarantees.” He added, “My concern is with only the champion of the district getting the automatic spot, there will be some 8-1 teams potentially being left out for teams with lesser records, but a better RPI due to their schedule, which once again is not totally under your control.”
As for the specific district in which Lake Mills landed, there are also several issues that will make it a challenge to succeed.
“We will be the smallest 1A team in the state with an enrollment of 166; the cut off for Class A was 165,” Byrnes noted. He added, “There are just not any 1A schools in our area, several schools dropped to Class A due to enrollment declines.” That, of course, once again means a fair amount of travel in the new district, which besides Lake Mills covers the following schools: Osage; Aplington-Parkersburg; Sumner-Fredricksburg; Denver; and, North Butler.
Commenting on the teams specifically, Byrnes provided a few snippets. “We have not played Osage in varsity football since we ended conference football in the early 1990’s, we have played them at lower levels,” he observed. “The rest of the district, we have been with Aplington-Parkersburg before and they are coming down from Class 2A, Denver has been in our District the last two years, North Butler-Clarskville we have been with before, but not for many years, and also Sumner-Fredricksburg has been in our district the past two years.”
Time will tell how the new system and classifications work for Lake Mills and many other teams. Byrnes concluded, “We will see how this works out, as with anything there are many, many factors that go into these decisions and these are hard decisions, I just the wish the voice of the people that actually coach the game would have been heard.”