With the first official football practice less than a week away, the Maine Principals Association’s football committee met on Monday to lock up the dates and sites for its six state championship games.
It will be the first time there has been six state title games as the rapidly growing list of eight-man football teams has expanded to the point there will be two state championship games — one for large schools and another for small schools.
Five of the six state title games will be at Fitzpatrick Stadium in Portland.
The first eight-man state championship game was held in 2019 with Mt. Ararat High School from Topsham beating Old Orchard Beach 58-25.
There was no season last fall due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
There are now 26 eight-man football teams. There will be five in the large school northern division and six in the south. There will be seven small school teams from the north and eight from the south.
The two eight-man state games will be held on Saturday, Nov. 13, at Fitzpatrick Stadium.
The Class D state game will be played on Friday, Nov. 19, at the University of Maine’s Morse Field in Alfond Stadium in Orono. Morse Field had a new artificial turf-surface installed this summer.
The Class A, B and C state games will be played the next day, Nov. 20, at Fitzpatrick Stadium.
There is just one state-wide league in Classes A and D with eight teams in A and nine in D. There are 18 schools in Class B, nine each in the North and South, and 16 in Class C, nine in the North and seven in the South.
MPA football committee chairman Fred Lower, the athletic administrator at Hampden Academy, said the committee did discuss moving the eight-man state games to a smaller venue but the 2019 state game at Fitzpatrick was very successful so they decided to keep the games there.
“We didn’t want a big stadium to dwarf the crowd but there was a big crowd for that game two years ago so we decided to have those games there,” Lower said.
There wasn’t any discussion about dividing up the 11-man title games because the tripleheader at Fitzpatrick has proven to be a popular showcase event, Lower said.
However, he did say with several new artificial turf fields cropping up like the one at Bangor’s Cameron Stadium, which has held state championship games before on its grass surface, they will reevaluate the state game scenarios after the season.
Danny O’Connell, the John Bapst High School athletic director and a liaison to the football committee, said the “playoff qualification numbers will be up this year” and the theme of the meeting was a positive one.
“We’re excited to move forward with the season,” O’Connell said.
Regular season games will begin on Sept. 3 and will finish up on Oct. 23 in all classes except A, which will go until Oct. 30.
The 2019 state champs were Bonny Eagle of Buxton in Class A; Marshwood of Eliot in Class B; Leavitt of Turner in Class C and Lisbon/St. Dom’s of Auburn in Class D.