OTTUMWA — Seems like old times.
The Ottumwa football team and new head coach Zach Pfantz got to take a look the Bulldogs’ 2012 and 2013 schedules on Tuesday, and there are some old familiar names on it for Ottumwa Bulldog fans.
Old-school Ottumwa rivals Mount Pleasant and Keokuk are back in the Ottumwa football rotation. The Bulldogs will travel down to Keokuk on Aug. 24 and Ottumwa will host Mount Pleasant the following Friday, Aug. 31.
Other non-divisional foes on the Bulldog football slate include an early-bird battle with West Des Moines Valley (Aug. 17), a “new-school” rivalry game with Des Moines East (Sept. 7) and a trip to Indianola (Sept. 14).
The Iowa High School Athletic Association released football schedules for the 2012 and 2013 seasons on Tuesday, with the divisional format replacing the CIML leagues.
Teams received five games against divisional opponents, one bye week, and four other non-divisional games for which they sent their preferences in to the Iowa High School Athletic Association (IHSAA). Ottumwa’s bye week is Oct. 12 in 2012.
Last month, the IHSAA made changes to its playoff qualification format in Class 4A. It preserved conference play for the 24 teams participating in 4A football on the eastern side of the state and split the 23 teams in the west into four divisions.
Ottumwa, who finished 3-7 last season and was knocked out of the playoffs by West Des Moines Valley, is among the teams in the west.
This means the old CIML Metro division, which included Ottumwa and five Des Moines schools — Lincoln, East, Roosevelt, North and Hoover — is now history. A new era of Class 4A football is just beginning.
Ottumwa was placed in Division 3 of Class 4A, along with Mason City, Marshalltown, Dowling Catholic and old CIML Metro foe Des Moines Hoover. Also in the division will be new school Ankeny Centenial, which won’t begin varsity play until 2013.
With the new system, the point system used in the past to determine playoff qualifiers no longer exists in western Iowa. Instead, the top four teams in each division will qualify for the playoffs — the way it is done in the other classes.
This explains why Ottumwa can now renew old rivalries with schools like Mount Pleasant and Keokuk. Those schools are in Class 3A, so Ottumwa stopped scheduling games with them, because playing a school in a smaller class hampered the numbers in the old point system. Now, with the point system no longer a factor in determining playoff slots, the Bulldogs can play a Class 3A team without penalty.
Ottumwa played Keokuk and Mount Pleasant regularly for many years. The teams were a part of the old “Southeast 7” conference. The conference originally known as the Little Six changed in 1969 when Burlington, Bettendorf, Muscatine, and Davenport Assumption left the league.
Ottumwa High School and Keokuk High School, as the only remaining members, formed the Southeast 7, made up of Keokuk, Fort Madison, Mount Pleasant, Fairfield, Oskaloosa, Washington and Ottumwa.
Oskaloosa left the conference in 1984 to join the Little Hawkeye Conference. After Ottumwa left in 1998 to join the CIML Metro, the conference changed its official name to the Southeast Conference, made up of Keokuk, Fort Madison, Mount Pleasant, Fairfield and Washington.
Since 1907, Ottumwa has played Keokuk 64 times and has a 45-16-3 record against the Chiefs. The Bulldogs have played Mount Pleasant 57 times, and hold a 36-17-4 won-loss-tie advantage.
Other old Southeast 7 rivals not currently on Ottumwa’s football schedule could be added in years to come. Ottumwa has played Oskaloosa 94 times in the last 105 years, Fairfield 84 times and Burlington 76 times.
In 2013, Ottumwa drops West Des Moines Valley off its schedule and adds divisional foe Ankeny Centennial, which will not yet have varsity football in 2012.
Ottumwa 2012 Varsity Football Schedule
Aug. 17 — West Des Moines Valley
Aug. 24 — At Keokuk
Aug. 31 — Mount Pleasant
Sept. 7 — Des Moines East
Sept. 14 — At Indianola
Sept. 21 — At Marshalltown*
Sept 28 — Mason City*
Oct. 5 — At Dowling Catholic*
Oct. 12 — Off
Oct 18 — Des Moines Hoover*
* Denotes Divisional Game