The early returns are favorable when it comes to the new playoff system in high school football.
While it seemed a little early last weekend for a game between Triton and Pentucket — typically Thanksgiving Day rivals — the outcome and aftermath supports the notion that this playoff system is better than the old one.
Pentucket came out on top with a 19-13 victory, giving the Sachems the early edge in the battle for a Cape Ann League Large title. In past years, Triton’s late September loss would have all but eliminated the Vikings (2-1) from postseason consideration, since they would have needed to win the league to advance into the playoffs.
This season, Triton still has every opportunity to earn a postseason berth on the heels of what looks like a promising season. Sure, a game between Pentucket and Masconomet next Friday will likely determine the CAL Large champion, but teams no longer have to win their league to earn postseason berths.
In fact, eight of 16 teams in Division 4 North will advance to the postseason, so the Vikings can likely assure themselves of a postseason berth by finishing 4-3 in their September and October games before the playoff seeds are determined.
At the end of the day, the new playoff system gives hope to a team like Triton that encountered an early-season setback, but believes it can play better late in the season. On the heels of a 1-10 season, the Vikings deserve to play more big games down the stretch.
On to the picks.
Pentucket at Newburyport, 7
Newburyport has won the last three meetings between the teams, although that shouldn’t factor in tonight’s game since none of the players taking the field tonight saw action in the 2010 game. History means very little in high school football. However, we can go back to last week in hopes of getting a feel for how these teams will play tonight. Newburyport played about as well as it could play in a 35-7 victory over North Reading. Nobody really saw that coming, considering the Hornets were 10-2 in their last 12 games.