- Stephen Freker, Medford Daily Mercury
The much debated Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) football playoff overhaul plan passed Friday by a 161-131 vote of principals and athletic directors throughout the state.
It will be in effect for two years beginning in the 2013 fall season. Locally, the Greater Boston League teams, including Malden High, Medford High and Everett High, all opposed the plan and voted against it, Malden Catholic Acting Athletic Director Patrick Driscoll, on the other hand, said the Lancers athletic department strongly endorsed the change. Driscoll confirmed he cast a “yes” vote in favor of the plan on behalf of Malden Catholic principal Bro. Thomas Puccio CFX, Ed.D in Franklin Friday.
Highlights of the MIAA football committee plan included:
—There will be six true state champions as opposed to the 19 Super Bowl champions in recent years (9 Eastern Mass., 6 Central Mass., 4 Western Mass.). All the title games will be played on a Saturday at Gillette
—Thanksgiving rivalries will remain unchanged, meaning the second-oldest in the nation, Malden vs. Medford, will continue, though potentially, the two teams could meet in a playoff game, too.
—The top eight teams in each division will qualify for the playoffs. In the past, it was just the league champions.
—Under the old system, some teams could play three games in 10 days (Thanksgiving, playoff game, Super Bowl). In this new system, playoffs begin in Week 8 of the season and run weekly until the new state champion Super Bowl games. The exception being Thanksgiving week where teams will play their traditional rivals.
—Divisions will be based on enrollment and competitiveness more than the traditional geographic proximity.
The local Greater Boston League teams all voted in opposition to the measure, all citing projected scheduling problems.
In addition, both Malden High principal Dana Brown, who is active in the MIAA as a member of several committees in the past few years and cast a “no” vote for his school and Bob Maloney, Medford High athletic director, said they were anxious that the revered Malden-Medford Thanksgiving Day Game would be affected by this new system.
As it stands, the system requests that all league games be played within in the first seven weeks of the regular season.
Hypothetically, Malden and Medford, which are meeting for the sequiscentennial 125th time this Thanksgiving, could meet twice in the same season, once in the first seven weeks and again on Thanksgiving.
Medford’s Maloney said Friday night that he and Malden AD Dan Keefe had already talked and agreed the two teams would play just once, on Thanksgiving Day as was tradition and that this would be approved by the
MIAA since it was a Thanksgiving game.
“We have other rivals we would to keep playing, for instance we open with Revere, a former GBL team we played for 40 years, but now that may be impossible for 2013,” Maloney said. “This plan is not good for the GBL.”
Everett High AD John DiBiaso and Malden’s Brown also opposed the plan, citing scheduling difficulties.
Brown especially defended the traditional spirit of the Malden-Medford game in a recent boston.com story.
Brown stressed the importance of the game to the school and that he would be opposed to any change that could possibly diminish that traditional game.
Not all local schools’ officials were opposed to the new plan.
Like all the other schools in the Catholic Conference, Malden Catholic was a solid backer of the plan, Lancer Acting AD Patrick Driscoll said last night.
“The Malden Catholic Athletic Department is excited about the passing of the football playoff proposal,” Driscoll told the Malden Evening News and Medford Daily Mercury. “The proposal gives our school community and student-athletes a better opportunity to participate in a playoff atmosphere similar to other high school sports. The playoff plan brings excitement to our program and fans.”
While the GBL officials see the plan as a hindrance to scheduling, Driscoll said the passed proposal is a boon to his school.
“The new plan will help Malden Catholic with scheduling. Being in a five-team conference, it becomes difficult scheduling seven non-league games,” Driscoll said. “With the new proposal, MC will only need to find 3 non-league games.”
The rest of the games will be set by participating within the play-off system or the scheduling committee will set the games for weeks 8-10. The seeding of games for weeks 8-10 allows for competitive and local match-ups that have the strong possibility of excitement among local school communities.
One big change for the Lancers will be that its school enrollment, hovering the 600 students mark (Malden Catholic is an all-boys school), places it in Division 2. This would be the first time Malden Catholic would not be in Division 1 in football, ever, it is believed.
Malden, Medford and Everett would be in the Division 1 North. Malden Catholic would be aligned in Division 2 North.