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MIAA to Debut New Football Playoff
The MIAA approved a new plan that will dramatically reinvent the football postseason beginning next year. In a meeting held last Friday at Assabet High School, members at the MIAA's special meeting voted 161-131 in favor of the plan, which will eliminate the current "Super Bowl" system and instead crown six state champions.
The proposal calls for several major changes to the high school football season. Teams in Eastern Massachusetts, like Milford, and Central Massachusetts, such as Nipmuc and Blackstone Valley Tech, will play a seven-week regular season before moving onto the postseason tournament. The state will be realigned later this fall into six divisions with Central and Eastern Mass competing in divisions 2, 4, 5, and 6. Teams will play most, if not all, of their league games early in the season and teams that do not make the playoffs will have their remaining three games determined by a scheduling committee before playing the traditional Thanksgiving day rivalries.
Milford High School Athletic Director Rich Piergustavo seemed encouraged by the change. "I think the playoff system deserves an opportunity," he said. "It creates more opportunities for kids to play in the post-season and eventually crown six true state champions instead of 19 Super Bowl champions."
While more teams will play in the play-offs, including multiple teams from leagues with more than five teams, fewer teams will play into late November and early December. Last season, 74 teams played after Thanksgiving. Under the new system, that number will be reduced to 12. Some coaches are concerned about the new system taking away from the Thanksgiving Day rivalries.
"I like the idea of a state playoff the way the other sports do it, but I don't like that if we win the Division 6 districts, we have to play our Thanksgiving Day game and then play another playoff game," said Valley Tech head coach Jim Archibald. "To me, winning a state title is more important than winning on Thanksgiving, so if we have a chance at a title I am going to be very careful with who I play in that Thanksgiving game, which takes away from the rivalry."
BVT has a relatively new Thanksgiving Day rivalry against Nipmuc, while Milford has been playing Shrewsbury on Turkey Day since the mid 1970s. Some of the high school rivalries, such as Fitchburg vs. Leominster or Needham vs. Wellesley, are over a century old and coaches have expressed similar concerns about those traditional games losing their significance with the new playoff system.
"Thanksgiving football is so special, I actually liked the old format when I was playing," said Archibald. "We had one winner from each division and we played a Western Mass team, winner of Central-West plays Eastern Mass and you keep 11 games and traditional rivals. The problem is finding a system to figure out who plays in the post-season."






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