DIAA Football Championship Expands from Two to Three Divisions

Football Championship Format Changes for First Time in 46 Years 

(Dover, DE) September 2, 2021- The Delaware Interscholastic Athletic Association (DIAA) Football State Championship will change for the first time in 46 years, expanding from a two-division format to a three-tier classification.  The reclassification’s main goals are safety, level competition, and better overall play.  Since 1975, the DIAA Football State Championship has crowned champions in Division 1 and Division 2.  From 1971-1974, the DIAA Football State Championship was only one division.  In 2021, the DIAA Football State Championship will crown three classified state champions; 1A, 2A, and 3A. 

“This is an exciting time for interscholastic football in Delaware.  Since the championship was last expanded in 1975, the realignment concept has come to fruition and is long awaited with games kicking off tonight for the first time in the new format.  I would like to acknowledge those preceding my leadership for their work and concepts that laid the foundation to see this day come.  This is a testament to their hard work and for helping to elevate football in Delaware,” said Donna Polk, DIAA executive director.  

The 3A teams that submitted a waiver to the DIAA Board of Directors were able to start their preseason practice on August 6.  The 1A and 2A schools with an approved waiver started their preseason on August 9.  

DIAA Board of Directors Chairman Bradley Layfield said, “Athletic directors, coaches, and several others in the Delaware football community have worked for many years to bring more parity and better competition to our members schools’ football programs.  I am excited to see the fruits of their labor pay off for the betterment of Delaware high school football, and I look forward to an exciting season!” 

Throughout the past school year, with weighted feedback from superintendents, charter leaders, private heads of school, members of the Delaware Interscholastic Football Coaches Association (DIFCA) and members of the Delaware Association of Athletic Directors (DAAD) Football Reclassification Sub-Committee, a football reclassification model was developed and approved by the Board of Directors in February 2021.  The DIAA Football Committee met twice this summer to further discuss and solidify the seeding criteria points system with a structure in place to reward teams for regular season winning percentages and their strength of schedule.  The football reclassification allows for more uniformity among schools, provides relief with in-state scheduling, addresses safety concerns, and will hopefully increase student athlete participation and interest in football to provide more teams the opportunity to compete competitively.  Member schools were placed in three classifications consisting of districts competing for three state championships.  Districts were determined by geographic location.  The 3A Classification has 11 teams in two districts; the 2A classification consists of 21 teams in three districts; and 1A classification has 14 teams in two districts.  

In Class 1A tournament field will be comprised of eight teams.  The top 4 District 1 teams and the top 4 District 2 teams will make up the eight-team tournament field.  The schools realigned to Class 1A are:

1A – District 1 1A – District 2
Christiana Early College
Dickinson First State Military Academy
Glasgow Indian River
St. Andrew’s Laurel
St. Elizabeth Odessa
Tatnall Polytech
Wilmington Charter Seaford

The Class 2A championship will be a 12 team tournament field.  Each district will be represented by the four teams with the best in-district records.  The schools realigned to Class 2A are:

2A – District 1 2A – District 2 2A – District 3
Concord A.I. duPont Caravel
Conrad Archmere Delmar
Delcastle Brandywine Lake Forest
Delaware Military Academy Wilmington Friends Milford
McKean Howard Red Lion
Newark Mt. Pleasant Sussex Tech
Saint  Mark’s Tower Hill Woodbridge

The 11 schools that make up Class 3A will have an open tournament for the 2021 season.  

3A – District 1 3A – District 2
Appoquinimink Caesar Rodney
Hodgson Cape Henlopen
Middletown Dover
Salesianum Smyrna
St. Georges Sussex Central 
William Penn

Qualifying for a playoff berth in Class 1A and 2A will be determined by in-district play only.  The in-district records will be used to determine the top four teams from each district.  Seeding for the tournament will be used by the index system.  If there is a district tie for a playoff berth, the following tie-breaking criteria will be used.  Ties for final standings in all districts will be settled using the following procedure.  Note: When breaking a 3-way or multiple tie, follow the procedure until one tie is broken and return to top and begin the procedure again with the remaining teams.

  1. Head-to-head record
  2. Fewest points per game allowed in district games (Points allowed divided by number of games played)
  3. Opponents highest win percentage (Includes cross-district and cross-class opponents.  Ties count as one-half of a win.)
  4. Highest Tournament Seeding Index
  5. Coin Toss

A school’s point index is determined by adding together the total number of points accumulated and then dividing by the number of games played. Points are awarded for wins, ties and losses as follows:

  1. Win vs. an opponent in any class or out of state – 4 points
  2. Tie – 2 points
  3. Loss vs. an opponent in any class or out of state – 0 points

Teams that compete in at least seven games can also receive strength of schedule bonus points for indexes.  One (1) Strength of Schedule Bonus Point will be awarded for playing a team whose final record is .500 – .699.  Two (2) Strength of Schedule Bonus Points will be awarded for playing a team whose Final Record is .700 – .899. Three (3) Strength of Schedule Bonus Points will be awarded for playing a team whose Final Record .900 – 1.000.  For teams that play up a class against in-state teams only, they will receive 2 points regardless if they win or lose.  Because out of state competition is classified differently, no out of state games will generate any type of automatic points for playing a class higher.  Out of state opponents win/loss records will be used for calculation of the strength of schedule bonus points based on the aforementioned criterion. 

“Good luck to all of our teams, coaches, fans, and officials as we start the 2021 football season using our new classifications.  With any new system, we expect challenges, but with valuable work by the DIAA board, athletic directors, and football coaches, the football realignment will support competitive, safe, and exciting games for our student athletes,” said DIAA Football Committee Chair Jim Comegys.  The 2021 DIAA Football State Championship will no doubt be an experience that won’t be soon forgotten.  DIAA Football Championship information will be released in the near future.

For media inquiries, contact Alison May at Alison.may@doe.k12.de.us.

Follow DIAA on Twitter (@DIAA_Delaware), Instagram (diaa_de) or our Facebook Page (@DelawareInterscholasticAthleticAssociation).

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