The Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association voted to amend the rules for football last Friday, and the changes will invert the current season schedule.
The change, which takes the current playoff system from 19 regional Super Bowl games down to only six, will go into effect at the beginning of the 2013 season and will be on a two-year trial basis. This shift in the postseason schedule is large enough, but it will be in the regular-season that it has the potential to be seismic.
“It will be what it is.” says Pentucket coach Steve Hayden. “They’ll make it the best, and maybe they can iron it out and make it better. Or maybe it won’t work. But we’re going to give it a whirl.”
Starting next year, a three-week playoff bracket will be instigated that will place teams statewide into six divisions of similar school sizes based on enrollment numbers. Following Week 7, teams will be power-seeded into sectional playoff brackets, divided into four regions (North, South, Central and West). After that, teams falling below the playoff cutoff will be seeded into another sectional pool with other non-playoff opponents. From there, the last three weeks become the road to the six Super Bowls, before playing the traditional Thanksgiving games against the usual foes.
Gone will be the two post-Thanksgiving playoff games in a week. Instead of 74 teams playing after Thanksgiving Day, now there will be 12.
“There were a lot of complaints when they tried to implement what we have now,” says Newburyport coach Ed Gaudiano, “with playing on Thanksgiving, playing on the Tuesday after and playing on Saturday. That was never a good solution. So it places a great emphasis on winning the league now.”
Triton coach Pat Sheehan represented his school at the MIAA special meeting on Friday, and voted for the proposal.