The football committee of the Maine Principals’ Association has recommended that high school football stay with three classes and not expand to four classes next fall.

The football committee made its recommendation to the classification committee in a meeting Thursday at the MPA offices in Augusta.

The classification committee sets enrollment figures for all sports every two years, and the next enrollment cycle will take effect for the 2011-12 school year.

“We recommended to remain with three classes and to explore four classes over the next few years,” said Todd Livingston, the athletic director at Falmouth High and a member of the football committee. “We felt sticking with three classes was in the best interest of football.

“If we decided to move forward with four classes, it would have been a lot of work between now and April. This will give us two more years to look at it.”

Late last spring, the MPA football/classification subcommittee met to continue studying the four classes proposal and sent surveys to schools seeking feedback. Initially, the proposal got generally favorable reaction, but once schools had time to study it, there were questions and growing opposition.

“No one felt comfortable going forward with four classes because of the opposition it faced,” said committee member John Morin, assistant principal and football coach at Massabesic.

Mike Burnham, an MPA assistant executive director, said the recommendation will allow the committee to look further at the proposal.

“There were a number of concerns expressed,” said Burnham. “We didn’t want to rush anything through.”

The MPA classification committee currently is determining enrollment figures for the next two years. The committee is expected to release the cutoff numbers before Christmas. Westbrook is one school interested in learning the football cutoff number for Class A.

“Our enrollment is around 740,” said Westbrook AD Todd Sampson. “My understanding is that would put us in Class B for football. Westbrook loves being a member of the SMAA, but if the MPA puts us in Class B football, we’ll do what’s best for our football program.”

The SMAA has a bylaw that member schools must be Class A in sports that use Heal points or Crabtree points. The exception is that if the MPA places a member school in another class, that school is allowed to participate in that class.

Hockey uses a tier schedule based on a program’s strength, not enrollment.

“We play a Western Maine Class B schedule in hockey and it works out very well,” said Sampson.

After the classification committee releases enrollment figures, schools have a period to decide whether to stay in their classification or apply up.

Because its enrollment falls below the Class A cutoff, Cheverus applies up in every sport. Class B Cape Elizabeth and Greely apply to play Class A soccer.

Staff Writer Tom Chard can be reached at 791-6419 or at:

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