AUGUSTA — The Maine Principals’ Association football committee is once again trying to add a fourth class to high school football in the state.

On Tuesday, the committee met and began the process to set up a four division system, which would begin play in 2013. In the coming months, the committee hopes to devise a four-class structure that can be brought before the MPA membership for a vote next spring.

In 2010, a proposal to divide football into four classes was shelved. Some of the concerns raised about the plan included increased travel, losing long-standing rivalries and competitive balance.

“The A schools were concerned it was a bottom up approach and the C schools were concerned it was a top down approach,” MPA assistant director Mike Burnham said. “Nobody was happy.”

Since then, however, the stance of many who were against adding a fourth class appears to have softened.

John Morin, head coach at Massabesic High School in Waterboro, said a number of his coaching colleagues have had a change of heart.

“Some who were against four classes two years ago now may be OK with it,” Morin, who serves as the coaches liaison to the committee, said. “We’re not going to solve all the problems in the first round, but we need to make an attempt… We can’t wait another two years.”

To keep football consistent with other sports, the four classes would be A, B, C and D. The committee agreed that the four division structure should maintain the current East/West format, with a balance of teams in each conference. Preventing regular season byes and keeping a competitive balance are also factors.

The four classes would be determined solely by enrollment. While there was some discussion about schools switching regions, particularly in Class A, no formal work was done regarding what teams would play in what class or region.

“Guys are saying this will make for a little different alignment, but maybe that’s what we need,” said Mike Haley, a member of the coaches association, said.

The committee will meet again May 30, when it hopes to have up-to-date enrollment figures for each school. Then, it can begin classifying teams.

As of now, there are 75 high schools in the state sponsoring varsity football teams. With the recent decision by Calais-Woodland to suspend its program, there’s the possibility of an Ellsworth-Sumner team replacing the Silverados in the Little Ten Conference. The committee said it will consider approving Ellsworth-Sumner as a varsity program when it receives a formal request from RSU 24.

Morin said the coaches recently discussed the viability of an eight-man football league. While the coaches support an eight-man league, they feel it should be kept separate from the current discussion of a fourth class. Even schools struggling to keep football participation numbers up now would likely to keep their 11-man football identity, Morin said.

Beginning with the 2012 season, sportsmanship banners will be awarded in football, Burnham said. The banners will be presented at half-time of the state championship games. As in other sports, sportsmanship banners will be awarded to a team in each region of each class.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

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