Although Friday nights will look the same to most Viking football fans when the 2018 season starts in the fall, big changes are coming to many Iowa high schools, including Vinton-Shellsburg and its neighbor/rival to the south, Benton Community.
Both the Vikings and Bobcats have moved from Class 3A to Class 2A, where most of their schedule will include schools that are smaller than the opponents they have played in the past.
Head Coach Jim Womochil told the 8th graders who attended the Letter of Intent signing event about the reason for the change.
The Iowa High School Athletic Association reduced the number of Class 4A teams to 42. That meant that former Class 4A teams became 3A teams, forcing 3A teams down to 2A. Vinton and Benton are among those teams.
Both the Vikings and Bobcats will play in Class 2A, District 7. That district includes one very familiar rival, La Porte City Union, and several schools that Viking athletes have never played, and towns many from Vinton have never seen.
Along with the Vikings, Bobcats and Knights, the district includes Nevada, West Marshall (located in State Center) and Roland-Story (located in Story City). Having only five games against district opponents means that teams will play four non-district games.
For Vinton-Shellsburg, those non-district opponents for the next two seasons will include Alburnett, Tipton, Oelwein and Waterloo Columbus.
Letter of Intent
Womochil’s description of the changes took place as he spoke to 10 8th graders who plan to play high school football in the fall. The signing ceremony helps future Vikings and their parents to understand the demands of the program.
Along with introducing the assistant coaches, Womochil also introduced a former VS player, Drew Wiley, who just finished his freshman year at Kansas State, where he received a scholarship to play defensive end for the Wildcats. Wiley told the youngsters that participation in football is a great way to gain new experiences, make new friends and develop the character traits of respect and commitment that will help them become successful throughout life.
Womochil encouraged the athletes to become involved in many activities at high school, telling them that research has shown that those who get involved are happier students who perform better in the classroom.
Repeating something he told his very first Vinton-Shellsburg audience six years ago, Womochil said, “The best students and the best people make the best players.”
Success, he said includes doing well in the classroom and the community.
After each of the players signed his Letter of Intent, Womochil shook his hand and introduced him to the coaches.
2018 V-S football schedule (with opponents’ 2017 record in parentheses):
08/30 @Alburnett (7-2)
09/06 Tipton (4-5)
09/13 @Oelwein (0-9)
09/20 @Columbus Catholic, Waterloo (1-8)
09/27 Nevada (5-4)
10/04 West Marshall, State Center (6-3)
10/11 @Union, La Porte City (8-4)
10/18 @Roland-Story, Story City (4-5)
10/25 Benton Community (6-3)
Along with the class re-alignments and the new districts, high school football teams will have a new system for choosing playoff qualifiers this season. While district champions will earn automatic play-off berths as before, a new system will determine the at-large qualifiers. The Iowa High School Athletic Association will and the 17-point tie-breaker system and begin using the RPI (Ratings Percentage Index) system.
Similar to that used by NCAA to determine its playoff teams, the RPI uses a formula designed to evaluate a team’s victories and the strength of its opponents. And in another change from previous seasons, the results of all games, including non-district contests, will figure into playoff qualifying calculations.
The association chose to keep the current system of 16 teams in each class, with the last two rounds in each class taking place in the UNI-Dome.
See photos of the 8th grade Letter of Intent Ceremony HERE.
See the Iowa High School Athletic Associations description of the playoff system HERE.