Sunday, December 8, 2013
BY TRAVIS LAZARCZYK Staff Writer
AUGUSTA -- Fans of Class B football title contenders can plan on heading to Orono, rather than Portland, for the state championship game at the end of the upcoming season.
On Tuesday, the Maine Principals' Association football committee determined the Class B title game would be played Friday, Nov. 22 at the University of Maine. State championship games in Classes A, C and D will be played at Portland's Fitzpatrick Stadium, home of every football state championship game since 2002.
The Class B championship game will be the first high school football championship game played at the University of Maine since the 1999 Class A final between Oxford Hills and South Portland.
The move is the result of the MPA's decision to expand high school football from three classes to four. In the past, all three championship games could be played on the same day at the same site. Four games in one day proved to be problematic, scheduling-wise. The committee looked at a handful of options, including two games each at two sites, and all four games at Fitzpatrick Stadium, with one game on Friday night.
The University of Maine was eager to host, said Mike Burnham, assistant executive director of the MPA, but could not host a game on Saturday, Nov. 23 because of a home hockey game against Boston College.
"We discussed it with the University of Maine and Portland. Both sites are interested," Burnham said. "The best scenario is one (game) on Friday night in Orono, and three at Fitzpatrick on Saturday."
Added Todd Livingston, the committee char and athletic director at South Portland High School: "We'd like to develop some sort of rotation with the games in Orono."
The MPA will evaluate how things work at UMaine this year before committing to more games there in the future. If the Class B game goes well this November, UMaine will host the Class C title game in 2014, and Class D in 2015. Because the majority of Class A schools are located in southern Maine, the committee chose to remove Class A from the Orono rotation
There has been no discussion involving other potential championship game sites in eastern Maine, Burnham said.
"One thing we want to assure is, no matter where you're playing, you get the same championship experience," Burnham said.
Times for the Class A, C and D championship games in Portland will not be announced until teams are set in November.
Preseason practices for the upcoming season begin on Aug. 19. The season kicks off Friday, Sept. 6.
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The MPA classification committee met Tuesday to discuss ways to deal with the state's declining school enrollments and shift in population.
"(Tuesday) was day was just kind of a day to brainstorm a little bit. Throw everything on the table, as we look into the future to deal with classification in our state and some of the issues we're having with enrollments, declining enrollment, travel, scheduling," Gerry Durgin, MPA assistant executive director and liaison to the committee, said. "Is there a better way to do it? And if there is, let's put everything on the table and try to find out what it is."
Among the topics discussed were adding a fifth class, eliminating the East and West regionals in favor of four regions, or determining classification by means other than enrollment.
Nokomis assistant principal and committee member Phil St. Onge suggested dropping the Heal point rankings and letting each league generate teams for the tournaments, as is done in football.
Travis Lazarczyk -- 861-9242