Over the last decade, whenever the Maine Principals’ Association discussed football classification, a recurring goal always emerged: Reduce the number of blowouts in Maine high school football.

Last offseason, the cry was so loud we saw the most significant changes to the Maine high school football landscape in a generation. An 8-man division was added, and Class A — the division for the largest schools — shrunk to a membership of eight.

Sure there were other factors (think participation numbers) that also contributed to the big changes, but blowouts has always been a widely discussed topic.

With two weeks left in the season, how’d it work out? Are we seeing fewer blowouts?

Actually, there’s been a slight increase.

Through two rounds of playoffs, 34 of the 42 games were decided by 18 or more points. Eighteen points is three touchdowns, minus any extra point kicks or 2-point conversions made. A three-touchdown win is lopsided enough for this exercise. The Class A quarterfinals this past weekend were a showcase of shellackings. All four games were decided by at least 42 points. The combined score of the four games was 201-3, the three a Bangor field goal in a 48-3 loss at Scarborough.

That’s 81 percent of playoff games so far decided by three or more touchdowns. Granted, some games are close for a quarter or two before the stronger team pulls away. For example, Lawrence held a slim five-point lead late over Mt. Blue in a Pine Tree Conference Class B semifinal Friday, before pulling away for a 43-22 victory. Winslow and Hermon were tied midway through the second quarter of a Big 11 Conference semifinal, then the Black Raiders scored three touchdowns in just over two minutes, and the game was essentially over.

No class is immune from the blowouts. All four Class C semifinal games last weekend were lopsided. The new 8-man division, while arguably the most competitive division throughout the regular season, suffered from an abundance of routs. Three of the four semifinals and both the large school and small school finals were decided by at least three touchdowns.

The number of blowouts is up slightly from 2018. Last season, through three rounds of regional playoffs and the four state championship games, 33 of 41 games — 80.5 percent — were routs.

Let’s dispense with the overwrought hand-wringing that’s sure to come in the offseason now. Spending more than a minute or two contemplating blowouts is a waste of time. Blowouts happen in every sport. In football, with games played once a week, they are more pronounced.

In 2013, Maine high school football expanded from three classes to four, and the blowouts continued. A developmental league was instituted a few years ago, and the blowouts continued. This season, an 8-man division was added and a group of teams fled Class A like it was on fire, and the blowouts continued.

Part of the problem, at least in the playoffs, is too many teams make the tournament. Teams with one, two, or even zero wins made the playoffs for the sake of filling out the bracket.

There is no quick fix. The MPA football committee will meet in the offseason, and more ideas will be tossed around in regards to classification. Some programs will get players and coaches who want to work in the offseason and improve so they become the team on the sunny side of these scores. Some will do lip service to improving and look for help when they lose by 30 points week after week next fall. Improvement at the local level, particularly in youth leagues, takes time, but if there’s a commitment, high school programs will see the fruits of the effort.

 

AROUND THE STATE: Each of the six regional championships in Classes B, C, and D is a rematch of a regular season game. Unfortunately, none of them is a rematch of a close game. The average margin of victory in the first regular season games was just over 30 points.

That doesn’t necessarily mean we’re in for six lopsided games this weekend. There is precedent for the team that lost a blowout in the regular season to come back and win the rematch. Last season, Winthrop/Monmouth/Hall-Dale lost to Spruce Mountain in the regular season, 38-6. In the playoff rematch, the Ramblers took a 38-0 win. In Class B North last season, Brunswick took a 55-28 win over Lawrence in the regular season, then eked out a 14-10 win over the Bulldogs in the conference championship game.

Two regional championship games are a rematch of last season’s contest. Lawrence and Brunswick meet again in Class B North, while in Class B South, it’s Kennebunk vs. Marshwood again.

Class C North and Class D South are the only regions in which at least one of last season’s championship game are back. In Class C North, Maine Central Institute and Winslow will face off after Nokomis and Hermon met for the title last season. In Class D South, it’s Winthrop/Monmouth/Hall-Dale taking on Lisbon. A rematch of last season’s D South final was never a possibility, with defending state champion Wells, which beat Oak Hill for the regional title last season, moving up to Class C.

 

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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