Call it.

Moments after walking through the handshake line following his team’s 35-0 win over Waterville, Winslow High School football coach Mike Siviski walked to the edge of Waterville’s Drummond Field and took part in what had to be one of the oddest rituals in his more than three decades of coaching high school football.

Siviski met with Old Town football coach Lance Cowan and Mike Burnham, an executive director of the Maine Principals’ Association, for a coin toss that would determine which team, Old Town or Winslow, would be the top seed in the Big Ten Conference playoffs.

Wait a minute? Coin toss?

You bet. Call it.

Here’s the situation. Both Winslow and Old Town finished the regular season with 8-0 records and tied in the Crabtree point standings, which are used to determine playoff seeding. So we begin to go down the checklist of tiebreakers.

• Head to head. Didn’t happen. In the Big Ten, each team plays eight of the other nine. Winslow and Old Town missed each other on the schedule, obviously, since both are undefeated. Next.

• Heal points. Winslow and Old Town played the exact same schedule. Heal points are equal. Next.

• Division record within the conference. Both teams are 8-0. Neither played any out of conference games. Next.

• Overall record. In the 10 seconds since we last checked, neither team’s record has changed. Both are still 8-0. Next.

• Coin toss. Sigh.

Call it.

Actually, there was two coin flips. First, Burnham flipped a quarter to determine who would call the flip for first place. Alphabetically, Old Town comes before Winslow, so the Coyotes were heads, which alphabetically comes before tails. It was heads, so Cowan earned the right to call the real toss.

Cowan called heads. Burnham flipped.

It was heads. The road through the Big Ten Conference now goes through Old Town.

After a two-month regular season, playoff seeding was decided in a matter of seconds. Cowan shrugged off his good fortune.

“I’ve never been involved with anything like that before,” Cowan said. “It’s one of those things, that’s just the way it works.”

Siviski was already not a fan of having a bye week in the playoffs. Even before his team lost the coin toss, Siviski suggested settling these ties by taking a page from the past.

“When something like this happens, obviously it’s a great advantage to play at home in a playoff game. Both teams have had great seasons. Play it on a neutral field like we used to back in the old PTC (Pine Tree Conference),” Siviski said. “There’s no guarantee that we’re going to advance to the finals, but we’ll see.”

This wasn’t the first time the MPA has had to have a coin toss to determine playoff seeding. Heck, it’s not even the only time it’s happened in the Big Ten Conference this season. Also, on Saturday, Foxcroft won a coin toss with Oceanside to determine the fifth and sixth seeds in the playoffs. By winning the toss, Foxcroft is the fifth seed and travels to Madison. Oceanside gets the sixth seed and will play at Mt. Desert Island.

In Class D South, Boothbay and Old Orchard Beach need a coin flip to determine sixth place. Nobody likes the coin toss as a tiebreaker, but really, what are the other options? You could make season point differential a tiebreaker, but that would undermine the work being done to try to cut back on blowouts. Even with the running time rule (when a team is ahead 35 points in the second half, the clock stops for only scores, timeouts, change of possession or injury), teams needing to boost their point differential would try to tack on a few more touchdowns.

The best way for this to get resolved is to cut the number of playoff teams in the conference from six to four, and play a nine game schedule. That way, every team plays every other team in the league. Tiebreaker is head-to-head result. Simple. Efficient.

In the meantime, we have this. Old Town is the top seed in the Big Ten Conference. Winslow is No. 2. With any luck, they’ll meet in the conference championship game and decide it on the field.

Call it.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

<URL destination=””>[email protected]

</URL>Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM


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