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City schools bemoan passage of MIAA football playoff plan

Posted by Justin Rice  October 26, 2012 11:49 AM

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The MIAA’s state-wide football playoff system passed on Friday morning and most Boston City League coaches are not happy about it.

The plan, which passed 161-131 during a meeting of the MIAA’s 371 member schools at Assabet Regional Vocational School, will be put into place next year as a two-year trial.

City coaches argue that their teams have low participation rates and it’s currently hard for them to compete on at a statewide level.

"The more playoff games you have, with our low numbers of kids, it hurts us, kids quit, kids get hurt," O’Bryant coach Kevin Gadson said. "The longer we have to go and compete [it hurts us] and the way they have it now if we win our league we just go to a Super Bowl and that's kind of conducive to our numbers and our situation."

Currently, the team that wins the Boston City League South division automatically goes to the Division 5 Super Bowl and winner of the North division plays one round of playoffs before the Super Bowl.

The new plan changes the Super Bowls structure from the 19 Super Bowls that are currently in place and reduces that number to six championship games, which will all be played at Gillette Stadium.

Under the new plan, the winners of the North and South divisions will go into the playoff pool at large and have to win two games before qualifying for a Super Bowl.

Latin Academy coach Rocco Zizza, whose team lost to Nantucket in the Super Bowl last year, was one of the only city coaches for the proposal.

“It’s kind of exciting to be in a bigger format just like an NCAA basketball tournament format,” he said. “It’s kind of neat to be in a true state tournament. This is actually really good for football in the city because it really exposes us to a true playoff system.

“The way it is now the small divisions had no chance of playing at [Gillette Stadium] and now we have a chance.”

Last year, East Boston lost to Blue Hills in the first round of the playoffs.

“No comment, it is what it is,” said East Boston coach John Parziale, whose team lost to Whittier Tech in the Super Bowl in 2009.

In 2007, East Boston also beat Blue Hills in the first round of playoffs and then lost in the Super Bowl.

The 2007 season was also the last time a city school won a Super Bowl when Brighton completed a 12-0 season. Two years ago, Brighton went to the Super Bowl and lost to Northeast Regional. The year before that the Bengals lost to Northeast Regional in the Super Bowl as well.

In 2008 South Boston won the Boston North division and lost in the first round of the playoffs. O’Bryant also made the playoffs after winning the South that year.

Burke coach Byron Beaman said the proposal doesn't benefit city schools now but it could once they build up their football programs in the future.

"I can understand why they would want to do it because there are a lot of teams that end up with one loss or two losses but they are still a good team but get eliminated from postseason play as result of not winning their conference," Beaman said. "But it just doesn’t benefit us at this time.

"Looking at the proposal from a statewide perspective, I get it. Looking at it internally from a city perspective it doesn’t benefit us. Not right now."

City athletic director Ken Still had the final word, and he wasn't happy with the vote.

“It’s going to be what it is, we’ll accept whatever it is,” Still said. “There are pieces that are going to be tough for us as district, one is playing those games after you go to the playoffs; you could go to the playoffs and lose and still play [regular season] games.

“That hurts us because our teams have low numbers. We’re beat up. Most of our teams are beat up when it comes to Thanksgiving. Usually the season ends at Thanksgiving. [With this plan] it’s not going to end at Thanksgiving, some of those teams will still have to play [after Thanksgiving].”

“The other piece to it is the travel. They keep saying it is not going to be a big problem, the revenue is going to be a big piece to it. But revenue for us isn’t going to be that big because we don’t have that big of a fan base.”

Justin A. Rice covers Boston Public school athletics. He can be reached at jrice.globe@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeJustinRice or @BPSspts.

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Several reporters, editors and correspondents contribute updates, news and features to the BPS Sports Blog:
  • Justin A. Rice -- A metro Detroit native, Rice is a Michigan State University (Go Spartans!) and Northeastern University graduate. Rice lives in the South End with his dog and wife, who unfortunately attended the University of Michigan ... his wife, that is. He curates the BPS Sports Blog and is always looking to write about city athletes with great stories. Have an idea? He can be reached at jrice.globe@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeJustinRice or @BPSspts.
  • Ryan Butler -- A Rhode Island native and avid Boston sports fan, Butler played basketball, baseball and football throughout his time in Barrington Public Schools. Now currently in his middler year at Northeastern University, he joins Boston.com as a correspondent for the site's BPS coverage. Have a story idea? Contact him at butler.globe@gmail.com. Follow him on his Twitter @butler_globe.
Also expect updates from Boston.com High School sports editor Zuri Berry and the Globe staff.
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