Union to Renew Rivalries with North Fayette, Waukon and Columbus
The road to the Iowa state playoffs promises to be considerably more difficult for high school football teams in 2016. With the Iowa High School Athletic Association’s (IHSAA) Board of Control adopting a nine game regular season schedule and 16‐team qualifier field for all football classes, the number of schools qualifying for the postseason has been cut in half, which will eliminate teams that place below second in district play.
The IHSAA made the change to the playoff structure following a review of the system that has been in place since 2008. Under the old system, the top four teams in each district advanced to the state playoffs. In an effort to improve player safety and risk‐minimization, the IHSAA had been looking at several different options. Cutting the playoff field in half will allow for one week between postseason games, instead of four or five days.
“The driving force behind this decision is player safety and keeping the best interest of our students at the forefront,” said Alan Beste, IHSAA Executive Director.
Football is the largest high school participation sport in Iowa among males with 20,630 participants, according to the 2013‐2014 IHSAA annual participation survey. Along with a reduced number of playoff qualifiers, the state’s biannual process of realigning districts will pit Union against some stronger competition next season. Two years ago when the Knights moved to District 6 in Class 2A, the records of the teams from the previous season was a combined 17-46. In 2016, the combined record of the teams in District 4, Union’s new assignment, is 35-37.
As the Knights, (4-5 in 2015) move to a new district, they will find some familiar foes to compete against. In addition to North Fayette Valley (7-2), the Class 2A state champion in 2014 and state semi-finalist last year, District 4 will also include Waukon, the 8-1 team that defeated Union in the first round of the state playoffs last season, along with perennial playoff contender Dyersville Beckman (6-3) and another 2015 state qualifier, Cascade (4-5). The remainder of the district includes three teams that did not participate in 2015 postseason play, Monticello (4-5), and a pair of 1-8 teams, Oelwein and Waterloo Columbus.