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December 7, 2012

NEC football may forgo state's new playoff system; Saugus leaving conference as well

Two monumental moves have happened within the Northeastern Conference within the last few days.

Unsatisfied with the state’s new football playoff plan, the NEC athletic directors took a straw poll yesterday to determine whether or not the conference should try to enter into a postseason football partnership with the Merrimack Valley Conference, which is also reportedly upset with the new postseason playoff system.

Taking a straw poll went 10-2 in favor of potential opportunity with the MVC (with Swampscott and Saugus as the no votes).

Beverly High athletic director James Coffey, who was at yesterday’s meeting, confirmed that this is one of several possible scenarios that have been bandied about by the conference’s athletic directors and principals.

Under this proposed plan, the NEC would continue as scheduled as a two-tiered league next fall: NEC Large and NEC Small, with six teams in each. The Merrimack Valley League, apparently upset that many of their long-time rivalries won’t continue under the state’s new playoff setup, also has Large and Small school divisions.

If this idea were to come to fruition — and it’s likely to be met with opposition from the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) — the NEC and MVC schools would play their ‘normal’ 10 or 11-game footballs schedules (as opposed to the new 7-game regular season and ensuing playoffs under the new MIAA plan). The winner of the NEC Large would then play the MVC Large champion in a postseason ‘bowl’ game; the NEC Small and MVC Small titlists would do likewise.

The MIAA’s board of directors would likely need to approve any non-playoff, post-Thanksgiving game such as the NEC/MVC ‘bowl’ games.

“I don’t see the benefit of something like this to our student-athletes,” said Swampscott head coach Steve Dembowski, “Especially when I think the odds of it getting through the board are 1-out-of-100.”

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