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November 29, 2012

Playoff overhaul the right move for Mass. football

The new MIAA playoff system, taking shape in 2013, has been a hot debate topic over the weeks, and with the MIAA Super Bowls kicking off on Saturday it’s time to debate whether or not this is the right move for Massachusetts high school football.

Based on the system that’s in place now, this is absolutely the right direction for the state to move in.

Here’s how it breaks down. Teams are split up into sections based on enrollment (Gloucester in Division 3 Northeast, Manchester Essex in Division 5 Northeast) with eight teams in each section qualifying for the playoffs, which will start after week seven. Those eight teams will battle throughout the playoffs and the winners of each section (four in each division) will move on to the state semis followed by the Super Bowl. There will be six state champions statewide compared to 19 in the current format.

The new system may take a little getting used to but one thing is for sure, the system in place at the moment is broken and a change was needed. The fact that 19 teams can call themselves state champions is borderline laughable.

The current system being broken is due to one thing; virtually every conference needing to split into two for an extra playoff berth. In 2001, when the playoff format took shape, no conferences were split into large and small and every regular season game had meaning. Fast forward to 2012 and the splitting of conferences has rendered the first 5-6 weeks of the regular season meaningless.

With this new format every game will have significance as teams are ranked on a point based system. Beat a team in your division, you get 10 points; beat a team up a division, get 12 points; and beat a team down a division to get eight points. Every win counts as does every loss, which should make for some exciting football in weeks five, six and seven next fall.

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