SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Sports

July 15, 2013

Phil Stacey column: Making sense of the North Shore football schedule

Five weeks from today high school football teams from across the Bay State will officially begin the 2013 season. Three days after that practices with pads start, and just 15 days later the games begin for real.

And we’re betting you might have some questions.

The state’s new two-year trial playoff system has folks wondering where their teams are being placed, if leagues and conferences have been changed or realigned, and most importantly who their favorite clubs will be playing before the three-week state playoffs begin in November.

To clear things up, The Salem News-area teams will now be slotted in five different playoff brackets. The two biggest schools, St. John’s Prep and Peabody, will try and qualify for the playoffs in Division 1 North; Beverly, Salem, Danvers Marblehead, Masconomet and Gloucester are six of the 11 teams battling for postseason berths in Division 3 Northeast; Hamilton-Wenham, Ipswich and Swampscott will do likewise in Division 4; Bishop Fenwick and Manchester-Essex will now be playing out of Division 5 North; and the North Shore Tech/Essex Aggie team is one of 20 squads fighting it out for a spot in the Division 6 North playoffs.

The Northeastern Conference’s North (i.e., “upper”) division will consist of Beverly, Marblehead, Swampscott, Gloucester and Lynn English; the NEC South is made up of Salem, Danvers, Peabody, Revere, Lynn Classical and Winthrop. Similarly, Masconomet will play in the Cape Ann League’s Division 1 along with Triton, Pentucket, Newburyport, North Reading and (moving over from the NEC) Saugus; in CAL Division 2, Ipswich and Hamilton-Wenham will butt heads with Lynnfield, Amesbury, Manchester-Essex and Georgetown.

As for the games themselves — each team has eight regularly scheduled contests (plus Thanksgiving), with three holes for playoff or non-playoff matchups, based on seeding, in November — here’s a look at each of the 13 teams covered by The Salem News:

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