High school football schedules for the 2011 season in Classes B and C statewide may finally be nearing completion.
According to Maine Principals’ Association assistant executive director Mike Burnham, that organization’s football and classification committees recently recommended adjusting its small-school enrollment cutoff in the sport in an effort to provide an even number of teams for all six divisions of football in the state — Eastern A, B and C and Western A, B and C.
That move would increase the Class C cutoff from 499 or fewer students to 525 or fewer for the next two-year cycle, enabling Poland High School with its enrollment of 520 to drop from Western B to Western C. That would leave Western B with 12 schools — including the new Spruce Mountain High School athletic program set to begin this summer that consolidates former Western C rivals Jay and Livermore Falls.
The enrollment cutoff shift alone would leave Eastern and Western C with 13 schools each, but Burnham said the football and classifications committees also have recommended that Winslow High School, a longtime Eastern B school that is dropping to Class C by enrollment this fall, now compete in Western Maine. That would leave Eastern C with 12 schools and Western C with 14.
Both the Class C enrollment cutoff adjustment and the shift of Winslow from Eastern to Western Maine are subject to a vote of the full MPA membership during its annual spring conference April 28-29 at the Samoset Resort in Rockport.
Having an even number of schools in a division simplifies regular-season scheduling for the conferences involved, otherwise those conferences likely would face having multiple teams on byes during the same week and the additional possibility of not having all teams in a division playing the same number of games leading up to the playoffs.
The LTC, which represents Eastern Maine Class C, has contemplated multiple possible schedules this winter, initially based on general reclassification that resulted in Old Town and Rockland — through its consolidation with Georges Valley of Thomaston to form Oceanside High School next fall — moving up to Class B while Winslow dropped from Eastern B to Eastern C and varsity newcomer Hermon also joined the LTC ranks to leave that conference with 12 teams.
Washington Academy of East Machias subsequently opted for varsity status early this year to become the LTC’s 13th team, while Western B and Western C similarly had odd numbers of schools once Spruce Mountain became a reality in late March.
The recommended shifts of Poland and Winslow will leave the LTC with 12 teams, Western B with 12 teams and Western C with 14.
Eastern A (10 schools), Western A (14) and Eastern B (14) are unaffected by the latest proposals.
Mike Archer, secretary-treasurer of the LTC, said a new tentative schedule for that league has been drafted in light of the MPA committee recommendations. Under that schedule, an eight-week regular season with no byes would be followed by an eight-team playoff format, as has been the case in recent years.
Under the current plan, the following schools will compete in the LTC this fall: Bucksport, Calais-Woodland, Dexter, Foxcroft Academy, Hermon, John Bapst of Bangor, Mattanawcook Academy of Lincoln, Maine Central Institute of Pittsfield, Mount View of Thorndike, Orono, Stearns of Millinocket and Washington Academy.