AUGUSTA – Ten teams will compete for a state championship in the inaugural season of 8-man football.
The MPA football committee passed a motion to officially put 8-man football on the schedule featuring the following teams: Ellsworth, Mt. Ararat, Yarmouth, Gray New Gloucester, Maranacook, Boothbay, Old Orchard Beach, Sacopee Valley, Telstar and Traip Academy.
The class will be split into two divisions, those above and below 350 enrollment, and the winners of those divisions will play for a state championship.
Additionally, any team unable to complete a full 11-man season without game rules modifications will finish out their season when possible, then play at least the next season in 8-man.
Unfortunately for Ellsworth, the majority of the teams in the 8-man class are farther south, meaning they will have to travel more than last season.
“Transportation will be higher for sure but hosting a game whether it’s Traip Academy or Foxcroft Academy or Bucksport it’ll be the same enthusiasm by our community and we’re juts excited to still have football…,” said Ellsworth principal Dan Clifford.
With those ten teams moving to 8-man, this required the committee to submit a new class breakdown for the remaining 11-man football teams.
Options for three classes, and a Class A with no north or south divisions were considered, but the final proposal to be sent to the classification committee included four classes with a northern and southern division in each class.
Class A North would add Deering, Skowhegan, and Cheverus, Class B North would add Gardiner and Nokomis, Class C North would lose Oceanside to Class C South, and Class D North would Ellsworth to the 8-man class.
This proposal is contingent on approval from the classification committee, and subject to petitions from individual to move classes.
The final confirmed change to the upcoming season will be the playoff points system.
Heal points will no longer be used, replaced with Crab Tree points.
Crabtree points have been used previously by the MPA and are a system that values merely scheduling strong opponents, as opposed to Heal Points that only value winning against those strong opponents.
MPA assistant director Mike Burnham says he hopes that this new system will encourage teams to schedule opponents in larger classes than their own.
While the decisions on 8-man football and the return of Crab Tree points are final, the reclassification proposal is subject to approval.