Football looking at four-class system

Posted Aug. 13, 2010, at 11:08 p.m.
Last modified Sept. 16, 2010, at 10:42 p.m.

    A proposal to expand the state’s high school football world from three to four classes gained momentum this week.

A subcommittee of the Maine Principals’ Association met Thursday to study the results of a recent survey of Maine’s football-playing high schools, according to MPA assistant executive director Mike Burnham.

Surveys were returned from 77 percent of the football-playing schools, and 72 percent of the returned surveys indicated support for a four-class format, Burnham said.

The subcommittee, consisting of members of the MPA football and classification committees as well as representatives of the state’s football coaches’ association, then went through each survey and discussed the various comments, both positive and negative, they received.

“There were some minor adjustments based on the information we received from the surveys,” Burnham said.

Those comments addressed two possible formats — one a three-class proposal and the other a four-class scenario that were sent to each of the 78 football-playing schools in Maine along with the survey in June.

Both proposals used the state Department of Education’s April 1, 2010, enrollment figures for the purpose of classifying each school.

Under the four-class plan, Class AA, for the largest schools in the state, would have three six-team divisions, North, Central and South. Each team would play the other teams in its division and two crossover games leading to the playoffs.

As part of this plan, Bangor High School would compete in the Class AA North along with Lewiston, Oxford Hills of South Paris, Edward Little of Auburn, Brunswick and Mount Ararat of Topsham.

Classes A, B and C would have the traditional East and West divisions, though the exact makeup of each class and division wouldn’t be determined until the classification committee completes its work during the upcoming school year.

Any shift to a four-class system would be subject to approval by the full MPA membership next spring, and would become effective with the start of the 2011 season.

Burnham said the updated information based on the survey results and Thursday’s meeting now will be sent back to the schools for additional review.

“What this does is get this back to the individual schools and their conferences for discussion,” Burnham said.

If there is a need for major changes, the issue would be referred back to the football committee, but otherwise it will be forwarded to the classification committee, which is scheduled to meet next in late September.

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