Tuesday, March 11, 2014
By Tom Chard firstname.lastname@example.org
Under a proposal by the classification committee of the Maine Principals' Association, Falmouth would move from Western Class B to Eastern Class A in soccer for postseason play, and Windham would move from Western A to Eastern A.
The Yachtsmen have won nine Class B boys' soccer titles since 2000 and the Falmouth girls have won the last three state championships. The Windham boys won Class A in 2011.
Every two years, the MPA sets enrollment figures for all sports. The classification committee lowered the minimum enrollment for Class A from 725 students to 705 for the next two-year cycle, through 2014-15, in soccer, basketball, baseball, softball and cheering.
This proposal doesn't include football, which is ironing out details to expand from three to four classes next fall.
As of last April, Falmouth had 727 students. Under the proposed figures, Falmouth would be Class A in every sport except lacrosse.
The Yachtsmen elect to play up in Class A for hockey.
"We knew we would be over 720," said Athletic Director Cooper Higgins. "We're appealing the committee's proposal to have us play in the Eastern Maine soccer tournament. We want to remain in Western Maine in all sports to be consistent and have a good-looking sports progam for our community.
"The thing is in two years we'll be under 700 in enrollment and we'll be back in Class B. I'm not worried about the competitive nature playing in Class A, but going to a different region to play the postseason screws up league affiliation.
"In the past we've gone from Class B to Class C and back to B, but it didn't affect league affiliation. The state is loaded with Class C and D schools. The Class B schools pretty match hold their own. The MPA can only drop classification numbers so much. It doesn't make sense to keep doing it."
The latest enrollment figure doesn't affect Windham because the school is well over the number for a Class A school.
Rich Drummond, Windham's AD, said the school hasn't decided whether it will appeal playing in the Eastern Class A soccer tournament.
"We're going to have a conversation first and based on that, we'll know how to proceed," said Drummond.
The problem the MPA classification committee faces are decreasing numbers and enrollments at Class A schools, and the increasing number of schools in Class D, particularly in Eastern Maine.
Drummond said changing enrollment figures for sports every two years doesn't solve the problem.
"It's only putting tape on on it," he said. "We need to get out ahead of this. My feeling is that we should already be looking at this for the 2015-16 and 2016-17 cycles. Some schools in the state have increasing enrollments but the majority are declining. That's a fact in Maine.
"There are a lot of talented people working on this. There's no reason they can't come up with something in the future that works."
Drummond believes some new things should be tried. He suggested going to sectional play and eliminate the East-West divisions.
"Everyone adapts in life. We have to start doing it here," he said.
Other enrollment cutoff numbers for soccer, basketball, cheering, baseball and softball under the classification committee's proposal: Class B, 425-704; Class C, 192-424 for baseball, softball and cheering, and 190-424 for basketball and soccer; and Class D, 0-191 for baseball, softball and cheering, and 0-189 for basketball and soccer.
Schools may appeal any placements, which Falmouth is doing.
The classification committee will convene again next Tuesday to consider any remaining issues.
The final proposal will then be sent to the MPA's general membership for approval in late March.
Staff Writer Tom Chard can be reached at 791-6419 or at: