, Newburyport, MA


November 1, 2013

First signs of needed improvement in playoff system

The new high school football playoff system has been viewed favorably by coaches and players across the state in the test season.

We won’t know until the end of the season if it is, in fact, better than the one used in previous seasons, but we are starting to see possible areas for improvement as we move into November.

The Amesbury football team has to travel to Weston tonight — likely well over an hour commute on a Friday night — to play a team with which it has no established history. It seems like an emotional letdown for the Indians, who were playing for their playoff lives last Friday right up until the final play against Manchester Essex.

Some will say the Indians made their own luck. If they pulled out a win over Manchester Essex, they would be preparing for a playoff matchup against a familiar Cape Ann League foe in Pentucket on Saturday afternoon. While that would have been better for the Indians in terms of familiarity and geographical proximity, it wouldn’t offer much optimism for the Indians. Pentucket beat Amesbury 45-7 on Sept. 20.

So, with the new playoff format, the Indians’ two options on the first weekend in November were to either play an unfamiliar foe on the road 45 miles from home, or play a team to which it lost handily just over a month ago.

Not great options.

Pentucket and Triton coaches and players may also be scratching their heads as they scan the Division 4 North playoff bracket. If the Sachems and Vikings both win this weekend — they are both the higher seeds in their respective matchups — they will meet for the second time this season next weekend in the Division 4 North semifinals. Then, the two teams will meet again on Thanksgiving.

Sure, familiarity makes rivalries, but should Pentucket and Triton really play each other three times in a 10- or 11-game season?

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