SIDNEY — Since the Ohio High School Athletic Association began football playoffs in 1972, suffering a postseason loss has meant the end of the year for area teams.
Not this year.
The resumption of regular-season play for teams after losing playoff games is yet another oddity that can be added to the list already in progress for COVID-19-effected 2020.
The pandemic resulted in the Ohio High School Athletic Association restructuring the season in early August. Citing concerns from state government officials of an early winter coronavirus surge, the association shortened the season from 15 weeks to 13.
But the cash-strapped association — which gets 80 percent of its revenue from tournament ticket sales — decided for the first time to make all teams eligible for the playoffs. With seven weeks needed to conduct the playoffs, regular-season play was limited to six weeks.
While an expanded postseason could help the OHSAA make a dent in its budget shortfall, it wouldn’t give much help to schools, which aren’t getting any playoff ticket revenue this year and were already limited in revenue opportunities due to the regular season shortening and limits on spectator capacity.
So the OHSAA came up with an idea to help — at least schools that lose in the playoffs.
Teams can play additional regular-season contests after losing in the playoffs. The OHSAA is permitting teams to play up to a total of 10 regular-season games through Nov. 14.
Sidney and Anna will play regular-season games on Friday following one-point playoff losses last weekend. Lehman Catholic will travel to Waynesfield-Goshen for its second regular-season contest since losing by two points to Southeastern in a playoff game on Oct. 9.
Sidney coach Adam Doenges said he’s happy his squad has a chance to play 10 games this season.
“We made a commitment to our kids way back in the summer that we were going to do whatever we could do to get them to play 10 plus games,” Doenges said. “The goal now is to get Week 9 and Week 10 in safely and get our 10 games in.
“… It’s kind of frightening right now. Every time you open up social media or check the news, you see another football team that’s season has got shut down or another volleyball game or soccer game that has been canceled. You’ve always got to be thankful when you get to play another week.”
All other area teams will continue postseason play this weekend. Fort Loramie, New Bremen and Riverside all will play in Division VII, Region 28 quarterfinals on Friday. Versailles will play in a Div. V, Region 20 quarterfinal on Saturday and Minster will play in a D-VI, Region 24 quarterfinal on Saturday.
The Yellow Jackets (4-4) are hosting Vandalia-Butler (2-6) on Friday. It’ll be the first time the teams have played since joining the Miami Valley League.
The squads last played in 2018 as members of the Greater Western Ohio Conference; Butler won that Week 9 matchup 27-9. The teams didn’t play in the first year of the MVL due to being in opposite divisions and each having nonconference contracts to finish.
They were originally scheduled to face off in Week 3 this season before the OHSAA’s restricted calendar forced the MVL to redo its schedule. Each MVL squad was limited to two games against opponents from the other division, and Sidney kept rivals Piqua and Greenville as its crossover opponents.
Butler had a rough start to the season with lopsided losses to Tippecanoe, Piqua and Troy but has played better recently, especially the last two weeks.
The Aviators lost 14-6 to Franklin (4-4) in a Division III playoff game on Oct. 9 and followed with a 32-22 win over West Carrollton on Friday.
“Butler is playing its best football at the end of the year, which is want you always want as a coach,” Doenges said. “They’ve got a young team again with very few seniors playing; they’re in the single digits in that respect.
“They’ve got a lot of young kids on the field, and at this time of the year, those kids have gotten experience. You can’t really look at them being freshmen or sophomores; they’ve gotten eight games under their belt and they’re playing with confidence.”
Junior quarterback Cody Joynes has settled in as Butler’s starting quarterback. He’s thrown for 584 yards and three touchdowns with 11 interceptions and completed 10-of-16 passes for 90 yards with two TDs against the Pirates.
Joynes split time at QB earlier this season with junior Luke Mitchell, who has since become the team’s leading receiver. Mitchell has caught 27 passes for 288 yards with one touchdown.
Joynes and Mitchell combined have over 1,000 yards passing; the squad has amassed less than 500 rushing yards this year.
“They definitely throw the ball first,” Doenges said. “I’d guess both of us are probably the top two throwing teams in the league as far as attempts. They’re going to put the ball in the air, put it in their kids’ hands and let them make plays. The play with some tempo offensively.”
The Aviators struggled defensively early in the season but gave up less than 280 yards to both Franklin and West Carrollton.
“Defensively, they throw a lot of stuff at you,” Doenges said. “They do a lot of really good stuff on both sides of the ball and do a lot of stuff that can confuse you offensively and defensively. We’re going to have to be ready to go.
West Carrollton managed 276 yards of offense against Butler one week after having gained 319 in a 31-12 loss to Sidney.
“Them being able to hold a pretty potent and powerful West Carrollton offense like that shows their improvement,” Doenges said. “They can make you look really, really silly because they can blitz from different spots. But when you do that defensively, you can give up some big plays. We’re going to have to try to take advantage if they give us a hole or an opening.”
The Yellow Jackets will look to keep moving on offense after having amassed nearly 400 yards of offense against Stebbins.
Senior quarterback Cedric Johnson leads the 10-team MVL with 1,320 passing yards and receivers Jacob Wheeler, Avante Martin, Izayah Clarke and Sam Reynolds all have at least 270 receiving yards to their credit. Junior running back E.J. Davis has gained 541 rushing yards and scored eight TDs while Johnson has gained 475 rushing yards and scored seven TDs.
The Yellow Jackets are scheduled to host Troy next week to close the season. Doenges said it’s exciting the team will get to close with two home games.
“Playing any game is good, but playing home games are that much more fun,” Doenges said. “It’s great for the school, too. Even if attendance is limited, it helps get a little more money rolling in with tickets or concessions or that kind of stuff. Any little bit helps at this point.”
Reach Bryant Billing at 937-538-4818, or follow @SidneyOHSports on Twitter and @BryantBillingSDN on Facebook.