SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Sports

October 25, 2012

Football Focus: Playoff Proposal faces final vote

The waiting will soon come to an end.

By the time high school teams hit the gridiron tomorrow night, the future of Bay State schoolboy football will have already been decided.

School representatives from across the state will be meeting at Assabet Valley Regional Vocational School to vote on the playoff proposal presented by the Massachusetts High School Football Coaches Association (MHSFCA).

The proposal offers a comprehensive plan that will award one state champion in six divisions while keeping league and Thanksgiving Day games in tact. The plan also increases postseason opportunities for student/athletes and eliminates the current playoff system that calls for three games in 10 days, including the holiday game.

This idea of altering the current playoff format has not been met with complete support, however. Many athletic directors, football coaches and principals are expecting an extremely close vote.

“For me, it’s a no-brainer,” Masconomet coach and MHSFCA President Jim Pugh said. “It’s a great opportunity to increase enthusiasm on the North Shore. I’m not saying games 1-6 were not important this year for us, but we played Lowell, Catholic Memorial, Wilmington, Salem, Beverly and Gloucester. It’s nice to play North Shore teams and NEC teams, but the other three games had hardly any significance.”

Currently, schedules are back-loaded with league games, which carry all the weight for postseason qualification. Under the new plan, teams would have their first seven games carrying the most importance with playoff games beginning in week 8, before Thanksgiving. Therein lies the problem for many detractors.

The Thanksgiving tradition in Massachusetts is built on many old-time rivalries, and some fear that this format would spoil some of the history.

The proposal also leaves open the possibility that two teams could meet twice, once on Thanksgiving and once in the playoffs. There’s also the slight chance that teams could play three times if they played a regular season league game, then continued a rivalry on Thanksgiving in addition to a playoff encounter.

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