Just one day removed from the Maine Principals’ Association giving final approval to a four-class system for high school football in Maine, thoughts have turned to creating regular-season and postseason schedules for the new format.
In several cases, it appears six-team playoff formats will determine regional champions.
Eastern Maine Classes A, B, C and D and Western Maine Classes A and C all are at various stages of considering or approving six-team playoff formats much like what is now used in the NFL.
Under such a format, the top two teams in each division would receive a first-round bye while No. 3 would host No. 6 and No. 4 would host No. 5 in first-round matchups. The 3-6 winner would visit the No. 2 seed and the 4-5 winner would play at the top-seeded team’s field in the semifinals, with the semifinal winners squaring off at the higher-seeded team’s home venue for the regional championship and a berth in the state finals.
Those playoffs would come after an eight-game regular season in those divisions.
The eight-team Class A divisions would have each team play all other teams in its division as well as one crossover game.
In the nine-team Eastern Maine Class B, teams would play seven of the eight teams in their division and one crossover game against an opponent from the 11-team Western B ranks.
In the 10-team Eastern and Western Maine Class C divisions, teams would play eight regular-season games against rivals within their division, with the other league opponent scheduled as a preseason opponent.
Eastern and Western Maine Class D, also with 10 teams each, would have eight-game regular-season structures, again with a ninth league opponent likely scheduled as a preseason foe.
Western D is expected to have an eight-team playoff format, while Eastern D would opt for its top six teams advancing to postseason play.
Another issue to be addressed is how to schedule four state championship games beginning next November rather than the three games that have made up “Super Saturday” at Fitzpatrick Stadium in Portland for the last 11 years.
Several options have been floated, including:
— All four state finals could be held at Fitzpatrick Stadium on the same Saturday, an idea that is considered doubtful.
— Fitzpatrick Stadium could host a single state final on Friday night and three games on Saturday.
— Two sites, Fitzpatrick Stadium and a more northern location such as Alfond Stadium at the University of Maine in Orono, could host two games each on Saturday, which likely would mean some games would be played at the same time at the different locales.
— One site, perhaps UMaine, could host a single game Friday night followed by three games on Saturday at Fitzpatrick Stadium, which would mean no two games would be played at the same time and might help ensure that all the state finals would continue to be televised.
A two-site resolution likely would result in some rotation of the state finals from year to year, though it’s unlikely Class A would be involved because Bangor is now the state’s lone Class A football school north of the Lewiston-Auburn area so that game might be played in Portland each November.
MPA Football Committee chairman Todd Livingston, athletic administrator of South Portland High School, said Friday that conversations about how to stage the state finals will continue throughout the spring, but that a decision may not be made until the committee holds its next meeting in August.