H.S. football landscape changed following reclassification vote

Class B West Fryeburg (4-4) Gorham (0-8) Mt. Ararat (0-9) Falmouth (1-7) Marshwood (7-1) Kennebunk (5-3) Greely (7-1) Westbrook (6-2) Oceanside (3-5) Morse (2-6) York (6-2)

Class B West
Fryeburg (4-4)
Gorham (0-8)
Mt. Ararat (0-9)
Falmouth (1-7)
Marshwood (7-1)
Kennebunk (5-3)
Greely (7-1)
Westbrook (6-2)
Oceanside (3-5)
Morse (2-6)
York (6-2)

By Wayne E. Rivet

Staff Writer

The high school football landscape has dramatically changed.

The Maine Principals’ Association recently approved a reclassification plan that created four classes based on school enrollments.

Previously, the enrollment levels were:

Class A: 775-up

Class B: 535-774

Class C: 0-534

Now, the new levels are:

Class A: 875-up

Class B: 600-874

Class C West Lake Region (1-7) Leavitt (7-1) Cape Elizabeth (3-5) Gray-NG (1-7) Spruce Mountain (3-5) Freeport (4-4) Poland (2-6) Yarmouth (2-6) Wells (6-2) Mountain Valley (3-5) • Last year’s record in paranthesis

Class C West
Lake Region (1-7)
Leavitt (7-1)
Cape Elizabeth (3-5)
Gray-NG (1-7)
Spruce Mountain (3-5)
Freeport (4-4)
Poland (2-6)
Yarmouth (2-6)
Wells (6-2)
Mountain Valley (3-5)
• Last year’s record in paranthesis

Class C: 45-599

Class D: 0-454

Fryeburg Academy remains in Class B West with an enrollment of 632, while Lake Region falls to Class C with an enrollment of 569.

Each team will see some new opponents this fall (see listing) with  “A” schools moving down to Class B, while some previous “C” schools move up into the revamped C ranks. Some smaller “C” schools dropped down into the newly-created “D” division.

Reclassification will result in Fryeburg and Lake Region not playing each other in the regular season. However, the two schools will continue their rivalry and Pleasant Mountain Bowl series by playing an exhibition game prior to the start of the regular season.

Both schools’ athletic directors feel the new football alignment puts their programs on a “level playing field” based on enrollments.

Lake Region’s Paul True immediately pointed out that the program’s move to the new “Class C” has nothing to do with the school’s consideration a year ago about dropping football down a level due to low participation numbers and a recent run of losing seasons.

The list of schools in Class C West includes many familiar foes — Cape Elizabeth, Gray-NG, Wells and Mountain Valley.

With an enrollment figure of 434, Wells petitioned the MPA to move up from Class D to Class C.

Three other schools in the East — Nokomis (704), Camden Hills (635) and Ellsworth/Sumner (770) — each applied to be placed in a lower class and thus gave up the right to compete for a playoff berth. Nokomis and Camden Hills are each Class C schools, while Ellsworth-Sumner is in Class D.

True said the Lakers (1-7 last fall) will play each team in Class C West other than Cape Elizabeth. Eight teams will make the playoffs, with the top two clubs earning a first-round bye.

True feels the Lakers will be in a more “competitive situation” with the new line-up, having dropped teams such as York, Westbrook, Greely and Marshwood while gaining some programs that also find themselves in somewhat of a rebuilding mode such as Freeport, Poland and Yarmouth.

LR varsity football coach Brian Jahna believes the four-class system will be good for high school football in Maine.

“There was a ton of effort and thought that went into the plan and I am proud that everyone involved put in the time to think about all of the specific nuances, consequences, both positive and negative, that could occur.  Coaches and athletic directors were heavily involved, which felt good.  I believe it will provide more parity within each class, especially Class A,” Coach Jahna said.

He added, “The core of our class does not change all that much.  We lose some of the heavy hitters like Marshwood and Greely, but we gain some very tough teams in Poland, Yarmouth and Freeport.  Looking at Poland’s film, they really have their offense clicking. Yarmouth is one year removed from two undefeated seasons and two state championships, and Freeport is steadily becoming stronger and more consistent.”

Ultimately, Coach Jahna believes that his football team is going to be ready to play and compete however things aligned.

“Our guys are walking around with great energy and excitement,” he said.  “We have a great group of character kids at Lake Region.”

FA Athletic Director Sue Thurston echoed True’s thoughts feeling the Raiders could be right back in the playoff mix.

In Class B West, there are 11 teams. To even the number for regular season scheduling purposes, athletic directors agreed to add a crossover game involving Class B East.

Thurston said ADS decided to develop a schedule, which would pit the Top 5 programs each other, as well as the middle three schools. The bottom three programs would be involved in the West-East crossover.

Eight of the 11 teams will qualify for the playoffs, with seedings being 1 vs. 8, 2 vs. 7, 3 vs. 6 and 4 vs. 5.

Fryeburg will play: Gorham, Mt. Ararat, Falmouth, Kennebunk, Greely, Oceanside, Morse and York.

Coming off a season, which the Raiders finished 4-4 and qualified for the playoffs, Thurston believes FA could again figure into the mix. Class A teams Gorham and Mt. Ararat struggled a year ago, as did two Class B East teams — Oceanside and Morse — which have been shifted to the West.

Newcomers from Class A include Kennebunk (the Rams were a “B” team in the 1980s), Gorham and Mt. Ararat.

“So, we have some teams which we lost to last year but have gained some teams, which we should be competitive with,” Thurston said. “I look at this new schedule with optimism, feeling we could be in the (playoff) hunt in the end.”

 

 

Please follow and like us: