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Iowa High School Athletic Association unveils new football plan for Class 4A

Iowa High School Athletic Association unveils new football plan for Class 4A

Mitch Mohr


SIOUX CITY — North High School football coach Mitch Mohr received text messages on Thursday of optimism and excitement.

That’s because the Stars learned that the Iowa High School Athletic Association released its new Class 4A “success model” schedule, good for only the 2020 season.

The schedule is designed for all Class 4A teams to play in more competitive games on a more balanced playing field.

Mohr believed the state association did well in compiling the group model for programs like North that played in blowouts in 2019.

“I would say if their goals were to make things more competitive, they did accomplish their goal,” Mohr said. “I don’t want to say that it’s a quick fix, but for Year 1, they did a good job. Deep down inside, I didn’t think they were going to make a change.”

So, how was the success model formed?

According to the IHSAA, the model measures a program’s last four years of football in two degrees: A team’s Ratings Percentage Index and a team’s playoff success.

Football Sioux City East vs. Sioux City North

Sioux City North's Cole Pierson is tackled by Sioux City East's Taejon Jones during a high school football game on Oct. 3, 2019 at Elwood Olsen Stadium. 

Of the 39 teams that were ranked, North was 38th with an average RPI of 42.5 and was one of the 13 teams that haven’t made the playoffs in the last four seasons.

With that in mind, the IHSAA placed both North and West in Tier 6, the lowest possible tier.

Then, the state put all 40 teams — Iowa City Liberty moves up from Class 3A — in seven groups.

2010: West Lyon
2012: Marcus-Meriden-Cleghorn
2012: Spirit Lake
2013: West Lyon
2013: Bishop Heelan

The Stars are in Group No. 1 while West and East are both in Group 3.

Every group contains a team from within each tier. Group schedules are designed for teams to play similarly tiered teams. Unlike district play, group play is not round robin.

The other teams in Group 1 are Dowling, Urbandale, Fort Dodge, Des Moines Roosevelt, and Council Bluffs Lincoln.

Dowling won’t play North, but Mohr’s heart dropped to his stomach when he saw the Maroons paired with the Stars, but then realized Tier 6 teams can’t face Tier 1 squads.

Since the Stars are a tier 6 team, their group contest games are against the Dodgers, Roughriders and Lynx.

The state also assigned two games — against C.B. Jefferson and Des Moines North — for the Stars in a different group.

“At the end of the day, our schedule is much more competitive,” Mohr said. “This brings an extra level of excitement. We’re going to be much improved. We competed with TJ and AL already last season. It’s a good looking schedule.”

In the group format, there are no district champions or group champions. All 16 playoff qualifying spots will be considered at-large through RPI.

East coach Brian Webb also applauded the move, and credited the state association with making safety a priority.

“There are a number of schools starting freshmen ... because they have to,” Webb said. “Kids who are not prepared to play against high-level teams in the state will get hurt. Safety was the No. 1 priority and that’s where the whole discussion started.”

East’s group games are against Jefferson, West, and West Des Moines Valley while its assigned games are with Fort Dodge and Roosevelt.

Meanwhile, West’s two group games are against Indianola and Jefferson while the Wolverines’ two assigned games are Lincoln and Des Moines East.

Bishop Heelan and Sergeant Bluff-Luton, which play in Class 3A, will still play in a district-structured schedule. 

Siouxland teams get moved

There were a few area teams who will play in a new class in 2020.

OABCIG football

The Class 2A State Championship trophy is presented to eager OABCIG players after defeating Waukon 37-12.

Boyden-Hull/Rock Valley will play in Class 3A, as the Nighthawks played the last two years in 2A.

Class 2A welcomes three area teams, all coming up from Class 1A: Cherokee, West Lyon and Unity Christian.

Last year’s 2A champion, OABCIG, will move down to Class 1A. Hinton and Sioux Central bump up from Class A.


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