IHSAA announces 8-game schedule, expanded playoffs for 2021 season

The Bears will play an eight-game regular season schedule in 2021.

By Matt Chinander  |   January 21, 2021, 9:50 p.m.

The Iowa High School Athletic Association today announced several changes set to take effect for the upcoming 2021 Iowa high school football season.

Most notably, the IHSAA has added a new classification, Class 5A. The state says this is to "reduce the disparity in enrollment in the IHSAA’s largest class of football, and to increase the number of participating teams and student-athletes in the postseason."

As a result of this adding of a classification, the number of teams in all other classes has been adjusted. Class 1A and 2A teams counts have dropped from 54 in 2020 to 48 for the 2021 season.

The state also announced a few other changes. As it pertains to West Branch, Class A, 1A, and 2A teams, one of which West Branch will be in for the 2021 season, will now have an eight-game regular season schedule, down from the traditional nine games. In a related move, the state has expanded the playoff field to 32 qualifying teams, up from 16 teams. The remaining 16 teams that do not qualify for the playoffs will be allowed to schedule a ninth regular season game.

Classes 5A, 4A, and 3A will continue to have nine-game regular season schedules and 16 playoff qualifiers.

The IHSAA has yet to announce classification and district assignments for the 2021 season but say they will be "released at a later date."

The full announcement from the IHSAA, which is part of a Board Briefs update, can be read on the IHSAA website.