When it comes to the MIAA’s new high school football format starting this fall, there may not be a team in the state with a more interesting road to the postseason than Manchester Essex.
The Hornets, who are looking to improve upon a 3-8 record in 2012, play in the Cape Ann League Small, an extremely difficult task for a school their size as Georgetown is the only team in the league that plays in the same division. But with the new point-based system in place, there are perks to playing games up a division as wins are worth an extra two points towards divisional standings.
Manchester Essex will be playing four games against higher division teams this fall meaning they have more points up for grabs than other teams in their division, but their regular season schedule, and path to the postseason, is also significantly more difficult.
Here’s a look at who Manchester Essex is competing with this season and which games you should circle on the calendar.
The new playoff format, which was outlined in Monday’s Gloucester Daily Times, has Manchester Essex playing out of the Cape Ann League Small, and Division 5 North. There are two ways for the Hornets to qualify for the postseason: Finishing first or second in the CAL Small, or finishing in the top eight out of 14 teams in Division 5 North.
In the CAL Small, Manchester Essex will be opposing Thanksgiving rival Georgetown, Amesbury, Lynnfield, Hamilton-Wenham and Ipswich. Division 5 North features Manchester Essex, Austin Prep, Bishop Fenwick, Brighton, East Boston, Georgetown, Greater Lawrence, Greater Lowell, Lowell Catholic, Madison Park, Northeast Regional, St. Mary’s, Shawsheen and Whittier Tech.
Manchester Essex plays just three regular season games against Division 5 North teams as they open the season with Northeast, Greater Lawrence and Georgetown respectively before finishing off the regular season with four straight games against higher division teams.