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Committee backs football plan

By Michael Grossi
Globe Correspondent / June 29, 2010

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FRANKLIN — The MIAA tournament management committee yesterday voted to endorse an Eastern Massachusetts football realignment proposal for 2011 and 2012.

The proposal, which passed, 7-3, still has to be approved by the MIAA’s board of directors.

The new proposal takes into account the split of three leagues: the Middlesex, Tri-Valley, and Hockomock. Each will get a second playoff berth, increasing the number of teams participating in the playoffs from 31 to 34.

Because of the splits, another division will be added. There will be eight four-league divisions that will play their semifinals on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving and the Super Bowl on the following Saturday. The new division will mean the champion of the Boston City South and the Mayflower Small leagues will advance straight to the Saturday Super Bowl.

“In our opinion, this is not a drastic change from the current alignment,’’ said football subcommittee chair and Pembroke athletic director Bill Fallon.

“More than anything else, this [proposal] is about equity,’’ said St. John’s Prep athletic director Jim O’Leary. “It gives small schools relief and a shot at making the playoffs they may have never have had if the leagues didn’t split.’’

The placement of leagues in a division is based on the average male enrollment. There also will be an appeals process for the leagues. If a majority of the schools in a league don’t like the division they are in, they can appeal to the MIAA to move up or down.

The appeals process is where some dissent occurred. Hingham AD Margaret Conaty voted against the proposal.

“I think that it needs a well-defined appeals process, one that considers tradition and strength of a league in football,’’ said Conaty.

Despite the addition of three teams, participation in the football playoffs still lags behind other high school sports, such as soccer, lacrosse, and basketball. Only 18 percent of Eastern Mass. football teams have an opportunity to play in the postseason.

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