March 29, 2013

Extra football division approved

The Maine Principals' Association hopes four classes based on school enrollment will mean fairer competition.

By Tom Chard tchard@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

ROCKPORT — High school football going to four classes from three received its final approval Thursday at the Maine Principals' Association's annual spring conference here at the Samoset Resort.

With principals and athletic directors serving as proxies, the vote, with a show of hands, sailed through as expected.

It's been a four-year process to reshape and level the playing field in football by better aligning schools in classes more appropriate to their enrollments.

The ease in which it was approved was the result of schools, principals and coaches being well-informed, said football committee chairman Todd Livingston, the athletic director at South Portland High.

"We didn't rush through the process," said Livingston.

"The football committee did their due diligence. I think that showed today," he said.

Starting this fall, there will be four football classes. The enrollment figures: Class A, 875 and up; Class B, 600-874; Class C, 450-599; and Class D, up to 449.

The various leagues in the state are putting together their schedules. The only question remaining is what form state championship Saturday will take. Some or all of the games will be at Fitzpatrick Stadium. But will there be three games and a Friday night game at Fitzy or will it be two games at Fitzy and two games at the University of Maine in Orono?

"All of those scenarios are on the table," said Livingston.

Livingston said the football committee is not scheduled to meet again until August, but that the state title game logistics must be decided before then.

In other issues, the MPA approved the new two-year cycle for reclassification enrollment cut-off numbers for all sports and activities.

It passed a transgender participation policy for sports. The MPA approved a New England wrestling qualifying tournament, tweaked the two-thirds percentage for tournament qualification and approved a new format for the state ski championships.

In addition, committee reports were given for 17 sports along with drama and the national honor society.

Falmouth High was affected most by the sports classification enrollment numbers. Kennebunk was next.

The Yachtsmen will move to Class A from Class B in basketball, baseball, cross-country, field hockey, soccer, softball, track and tennis. Falmouth was already Class A in ice hockey, golf, skiing and volleyball. The Yachtsmen will remain Class B in football, lacrosse and swimming.

The cutoff numbers for the four classes are the same in some sports within a class, different in others.

For instance, the enrollment numbers in Class A for baseball and basketball are now 705 and up. Previously they were 725 and up. For Class A football, the enrollment is 875 and up. It had been 775 and up for the previous two-year cycle.

Falmouth is listed as having an enrollment of 727 students for the two-year school cycle.

Falmouth Athletic Director Cooper Higgins said his school will still compete in the Western Maine Conference, a predominately Class B and C conference.

"At the moment, it doesn't make sense for us to jump leagues because in the next two-year reclassification cycle we will drop below our current enrollment and we will likely be back in Class B unless the MPA keeps dropping the numbers," said Higgins.

Higgins said he wasn't expecting the school's enrollment to jump as much as it did.

"It made us Class A in more sports than I thought we would be," he said.

Asked how he felt the school will do in Class A, Higgins said: "We've had success in the sports we're already Class A in."

(Continued on page 2)

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