Even during the offseason, life rarely slows down for Pickerington High School Central football coach Jay Sharrett.

Even during the offseason, life rarely slows down for Pickerington High School Central football coach Jay Sharrett.

In addition to his duties as an assistant boys track and field coach with the Tigers and a family birthday celebration April 12, Sharrett noticed after a late-evening glance that his phone had numerous missed calls and messages.

It seemed everyone wanted to talk about the OHSAA's announcement earlier that day regarding the expansion of its playoff system.

After having six divisions in football since 1994, there will be seven beginning in 2013, including a smaller Division I that reduces the enrollment disparity between its largest and smallest schools.

"I'm all for any school being able to experience the playoffs," said Sharrett, whose team was the Division II state runner-up in 2006 and the Division I state runner-up last fall. "If that means more schools getting into the playoffs, I'm all for it. It's neat for schools and communities to experience. At least the OHSAA is addressing the disparity among the schools in Division I."

According to the new plan, the top 10 percent of schools based on enrollment will remain in Division I, with the remaining schools divided evenly among the next six divisions.

This will create a Division I comprised of 72 teams, with the other divisions averaging about 108 schools.

Each of the seven divisions then would qualify 32 teams to the playoffs.

Based on current enrollment, there would be breakdowns of 600 boys and above in Division I, 410-599 in Division II, 288-409 in Division III, 216-287 in Division IV, 159-215 in Division V, 114-158 in Division VI and 30-111 in Division VII.

Under the format that remains in place for 2012, schools with an enrollment of 494 to 1,164 boys will compete in Division I.

Enrollment figures will be recalculated before the format takes effect, and the OHSAA also has a competitive balance proposal that will be voted on by its member schools from May 1-15. The competitive balance proposal, if approved, would alter the new format further.

Last season, Central beat Cincinnati St. Xavier 14-7 in a Division I state semifinal and lost to Cleveland St. Ignatius 34-13 in the state final.

St. Xavier has the state's largest enrollment of boys with 1,164 and St. Ignatius has the third most with 1,121, while Central has 653.

Among the 29 teams that compete in Division I, Region 3, 16 have a boys enrollment of fewer than 600.

Included in that group is Olentangy Orange, which earned the eighth and final playoff berth despite having 499 boys.

"There's been a lot of talk the past few years that something had to be done to address the Division I discrepancy," Orange coach Brian Cross said. "Last year it was 494 boys and up, and they're going against some schools that have over 1,000. In my opinion, and I can only speak for myself, that being a small Division I school this year, it was tough."

A committee will be formed to finalize the details of the new plan, including adjustments to the Harbin Computer Ratings and regional breakdowns.

In addition to Orange, central Ohio schools at the lower end in enrollment and currently in Division I include Dublin Jerome (495), Olentangy (495), Dublin Scioto (498) and St. Charles (501).

The enrollment changes also will affect central Ohio teams currently in Divisions II and III.

Marion-Franklin, which has made the Division II, Region 7 playoffs each of the past eight seasons, has a boys enrollment of 350. That figure placed the Red Devils toward the lower end in Division II and would move them into Division III under the new format.

Big Walnut, Beechcroft and Brookhaven are other Division II playoff qualifiers last season that could move to Division III.

"If I was a coach at Olentangy like coach (Ed) Terwilliger, that would probably help a lot to move out of Division I," Red Devils coach Brian Haffele said. "Division II is definitely going to get an influx in teams, which is going to put more of a burden on City (League) schools if they stay in Division II. We'll just kind of play with what cards we're dealt with and go play."

DeSales and Watterson would remain in Division III based strictly on their respective boys enrollment figures of 289 and 294, although both could be among the schools whose enrollment would be adjusted if the competitive balance proposal passes next month.

"I'm one of the people who thinks why fix something that isn't broken, and I think we have a really good system in Ohio," said DeSales coach Ryan Wiggins, whose team has advanced to the playoffs a state-best 18 consecutive seasons. "Division II and III are kind of funny because in some years we've been in Division II when it was very strong and other years when Division III was as strong as any division."