On Aug. 13, three days before fall practices got under way for Maine high school sports, the Maine Principals Association moved forward with its plan to divide football teams in the state into four divisions.
The MPA, which oversees high school sports in the state, reviewed feedback from football playing schools, and according to assistant executive director Mike Burnham, 72 percent of the schools were in favor of reclassification.
Under the current plan, teams are divided into three classes. The new plan, which is expected to go into effect in 2011, would create four classes — AA, A, B and C. This would help eliminate some of the disparities in enrollment, particularly among Class A schools where the current threshold is 800 or more students.
Since the current three class program was instituted in 1987, schools that would qualify for the new AA class have won 21 of 23 state championships. There are currently 78 football playing schools within the state with two or three more expected to adopt the sport soon which would give each class approximately 20 schools under the new alignment.
The classification committee of the MPA is expected to meet late next month and if it approves the proposal it would go before the full MPA membership in the spring.
Reclassification next year will help renew some regular season rivalries, including the football matchup between Cony and Gardiner which began in 1892. The teams currently play an exhibition which will be held this Friday in Gardiner. This year the game has been selected as one of 30 Great American Rivalries, a series which features 30 must-see high school rivalries around the country and is sponsored by the U.S. Air Force,
Last year, Cony won, 32-14, and leads the series in victories 65-55-10.
LOBSTER BOWL COMES TO A SIMMER
Several recent graduates played their final football game last month in the 21st annual Maine Shrine Lobster Bowl in Biddeford. The East squad rallied in the fourth quarter for a 40-35 victory, the highest combined score in the game’s history. In rolling up 551 yards of total offense, the East won for the fourth time in five years but still trails the West in the overall series, 15-6.
AROUND THE STATE: A 2010 PRIMER
Windham won its first-ever football title last fall, defeating East champion Bangor 35-21 for the Class A championship. Leavitt won the Class B title, topping Cape Elizabeth 35-21 while Dirigo, which recently adopted the sport, downed Foxcroft 37-20 for the Class C title. All three defending champions sustained significant graduation losses and will be hard pressed to repeat.
In Class A, perennial power Bonny Eagle is among the favorites. The Scots, who have won four championships in the last six years, be will be pushed in the West by Portland and Cheverus. Portland is led by senior running back Imadhi Zagon who rushed for 1,375 yards and 17 touchdowns last season, while Cheverus is coached by John Wolfgram, the state’s winningest coach with more than 250 victories to his credit.
In Eastern Maine Class A, Bangor and Lawrence are among the favorites.
Mountain Valley will once again contend in Class B while Class C is wide open.
In boys' soccer, Scarborough won its second straight Class A title last season while Falmouth won its seventh Class B championship in the last 10 years. St. Dominic took the C title and Bangor Christian the D crown.
Girls' championships went to Brunswick, York, Georges Valley and Southern Aroostook.
In Class A field hockey, Skowhegan saw its eight-year title reign end with a loss to Scarborough while Gardiner captured the B championship and Dexter the Class C title. Thornton Academy is the defending Class a golf champ with York winning in Class B and Houlton in Class C.
Cheverus won both the boys' and girls' titles in Class A cross country. In Class B, it was the Greely boys and Cape Elizabeth girls while the Boothbay boys and Waynflete girls won Class C championships.
Gary Hawkins has covered sports for the Kennebec Journal in Augusta for over 30 years and has won awards for best New England features and column writing.Mou