When the high school football season kicks off in the fall, teams across Iowa will be competing for a state championship in seven classes.

The Iowa High School Athletic Association's Board of Control Thursday approved a new classification for teams from the largest 36 schools in the state. Class 5A will feature 36 squads playing a nine-game regular season with 16 playoff qualifiers -- the same for Classes 4A and 3A.

Classes 2A and 1A will have 48 teams and the remaining 11-player programs will be placed in Class A. All of them will play eight regular season games, with 32 making the playoffs in each class.

All eight-player teams will play a regular season consisting of eight games, with 32 qualifying for the playoffs.

According to IHSAA officials, Class 5A was added to reduce the disparity in enrollment in the state's largest class. As a result, more teams and student-athletes will be participating in the postseason.

IHSAA officials also announced one other notable change the Board of Control approved ahead of the 2021 football season. All teams across -- except those in the largest three classes (5A, 4A and 3A) -- will be permitted to play a ninth regular season game if they fail to qualify for the playoffs.

The IHSAA plans to release additional information regarding playoff qualification and district assignments at a later date.

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