Westbrook High and Marshwood High of South Berwick will inform SMAA officials today they intend to play football where they have been classified by the Maine Principals’ Association — in Class B — and leave the Class A conference.

Todd Sampson, the athletic director at Westbrook, and Rich Buzzell, the athletic director at Marshwood, then will apply for admission to the Western Class B Campbell Conference when that league holds a meeting on March 10.

“I know I’m going to miss the SMAA, I’ll miss the coaches,” said Westbrook Coach Jeff Guerette. “It’s a great football conference.

“But for our football program, I’m very excited about the move. The Campbell Conference is a great conference and I think we’ll have a chance to be competitive there. I think it’s the right move.”

The MPA released its enrollment-based classification numbers earlier this winter, with Westbrook and Marshwood shifting to Class B in football only. The SMAA, a Class A league in most sports, previously had changed its constitution to allow a member school to play in the class it was assigned by the MPA.

Westbrook is a charter member of the SMAA but had been looking to move to Class B for a couple of years. Marshwood, which has won state titles in every MPA football classification, joined the SMAA in 1989.

Both schools are enduring declining enrollments and have had little success in football. They also held public forums to determine the mind-set of the community.

“I think any time you have a change, there is some concern,” said Sampson. “But I wouldn’t say there was opposition. We had nice turnouts at the forums, parents of players, parents of kids who played for us in the ’90s, some of our current athletes.

“I think what we got out of it was that the community told us we had done our research and determined what’s in the best interest of the kids. Now let’s move forward.”

Buzzell added that the community responded well to the Hawks’ move.

“I think people realize, especially after seeing us the last couple of years, that this was the direction we had to go,” he said. “I think we’ll be much better suited for Class B the next couple of years.”

The move reunites Marshwood with York and Wells, two of its rivals in the now-defunct Southern York League. And it brings another nearby opponent for schools like Cape Elizabeth, Greely, Gray-New Gloucester and Falmouth.

“I think this beefs us up a bit,” said Cape Elizabeth Coach Aaron Filieo. “It gives us a little more competition with programs that obviously have some tradition.

“The Campbell Conference is probably 50-50 in terms of programs that have been around for a while and fairly new programs. This adds two school systems that have deep roots in football.”

The addition of Marshwood and Westbrook will likely result in a change to the conference playoff system. Instead of four teams qualifying, the league will go to an eight-team playoff.

That’s something coaches voted for in their year-end meeting after last year’s coin-flip fiasco. Three teams were tied for third — Cape Elizabeth, Falmouth and Greely — and a coin toss was used to determine the playoff participants.

Everyone in the Campbell Conference said the additional four playoff teams will be a boon.

“I think it’s going to help all the new programs that never made the playoffs,” said York Coach Randy Small.

Staff Writer Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or at:

[email protected]