Cheverus, a former Class A football powerhouse that dropped down to Class B for the 2019 season, has informed the Maine Principals’ Association that it intends to move to eight-man football for the 2020 season, the school announced Wednesday night.

“We are excited about the move,” Amy Ashley, the school’s athletic director, said in a press release. “This decision was made after a great deal of thought and discussion with the coaches about what kind of program Cheverus wants to have in the coming years.

“We have a rich tradition of football at Cheverus and our program will be deeper, stronger, and safer. The move to eight-man football is the right step.”

Cheverus won back-to-back Class A state championships in 2010 and 2011 and set a Class A record with a 34-game winning streak. The Stags also reached the Class A state final in 2013, and went 7-3 in 2018 in its final Class A season.

Last season, Cheverus was 5-5 in Class B and reached the South semifinals.

“We have been talking about this for a while,” said Cheverus Coach Mike Vance. “This season, with just a varsity team, we hit a tipping point. We are graduating 12 seniors this year. Now we can be far more intentional about our player development. Next season we will be able to have a JV schedule, giving our younger players the chance to play at the right level.


“These kids love football. Moving to eight-man allows us to support the game we all love.”

Eight-man football, which debuted in Maine last fall with 10 teams, could expand to as many as two dozen teams in 2020. As of mid-January, 11 schools indicated to the MPA they are seriously considering making the switch from the 11-man version of the sport, with three other schools viewed as potential candidates.

If 24 teams play eight-man football, that would represent nearly one-third of Maine’s high school football programs.

The overriding factor for schools switching to the eight-man game is that they can’t attract enough players to play the 11-man version safely and competitively. The growth of eight-man football has been so rapid that the MPA’s Football Committee voted unanimously last month to recommend making it a two-class sport, with separate championships for large-school and small-school teams.

The committee set a Feb. 28 deadline for schools to declare their intentions on playing eight- or 11-man football. That will allow time to prepare a reclassification plan for review at the March 9 meeting of the MPA’s Classification Committee.

Vance likes the fact that eight-man teams still have the opportunity to compete for state championships, as well as honors such as the Fitzpatrick Trophy and Gaziano Award.

“Eight-man football is the trend of today,” Vance said. “Our goal is to become an elite eight-man football program.”

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.