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.”


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