One of the more anticipated games of the Eastern Maine high school football regular season has been rescheduled.
The Week 2 clash pitting two-time defending Eastern Maine Class A champion Bangor against rival Lawrence of Fairfield originally was scheduled for Friday, Sept. 9, but now will be played at 7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 10, at Cameron Stadium in Bangor.
The reason for the change stemmed from the unusually large number of games — 10 — originally scheduled to be played on Sept. 9 that required coverage from the Bangor chapter of the Maine Association of Football Officials.
That volume of games on the same night — on the weekend of Sept. 2-3, for example, the chapter will cover just three Friday games and three Saturday games — resulted from two factors.
One was that nearly all of the teams in the area that play their home games on Saturday afternoons were on the road at opponents that play their home games on Friday night. In addition, several teams whose home games are staffed by other regional officiating boards were scheduled for Sept. 9 road games at schools covered by the Bangor chapter.
“This is my 31st year on the board,” said Allan Snell, secretary-treasurer of the MAFO and treasurer of its Bangor chapter,” and this is the first time we’ve had 10 games on the same night. Everything had to be lined up just right for this to happen.”
The Bangor chapter has approximately 45 active officials to cover 17 high school football programs, with three or four officials routinely opting out on a given game night for various personal reasons, leaving a nucleus of about 40 available officials each weekend.
That means as many as 10 games could be covered if all the host schools requested the minimum four officials required for a game. But an increasing number of schools are requesting five officials for their home contests as high school football in the region evolves to include more diversified, pass-oriented offenses that make the challenge of officiating the games more physically demanding.
With the heaviest single-evening workload in memory awaiting local officials on Sept. 9, Bangor chapter secretary Alan Kochis sent out a letter to the home schools involved asking if any were willing to switch their games to the following day — when just one varsity game originally was scheduled to be covered by the chapter.
Bangor High School athletic administrator Steve Vanidestine conferred with football coach Mark Hackett as well as Lawrence officials, and subsequently was the only school that expressed a willingness to reschedule its game.
“We had certain things we needed to have covered,” said Vanidestine. “One was that we needed to have five quality officials, so we talked about it and felt this was the best way to go.”
Ironically, the Bangor-Lawrence game will be the second high school football contest played at Cameron Stadium on Sept. 10, as the lone other game to be covered that day by the Bangor officiating chapter — Mount View of Thorndike at John Bapst of Bangor — will be played at the same facility beginning at 1 p.m.
The Rams may derive an additional benefit from the shift of their home opener, a larger crowd. The Bangor-Lawrence contest is the only high school football game statewide now scheduled for that Saturday night, while the University of Maine football team is on the road that afternoon (at Pittsburgh) while Husson University of Bangor is idle.
“Anyone who loves football will be able to see some good football that night,” said Vanidestine.
Bangor opens its regular season this Friday night at Brunswick.