Sports

Eleven South sectional schools appeal placement in new high school football format

NORWOOD — Eleven of the 100 schools considered South sectional teams appeared before an MIAA Football Subcommittee Tuesday to appeal their placement in the new football playoff format.

The appeals, held at Norwood High School, were the next step in a process that started when the playoff proposal passed in a statewide vote in October. The new format has six divisions as opposed to nine last fall. The MIAA slotted schools based on enrollment, and a variety of other factors. Sixteen North schools will appeal Wednesday in Burlington. The MIAA will announce decisions by Friday.

The South schools were appealing to move down a division and most cited declining enrollments for the appeal.

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Brookline was the first school to appeal before the subcommittee, made up of Franklin’s Brad Sidwell, Xaverian’s Charlie Stevenson, Bishop Feehan’s Paul O’Boy, Norwood’s George Usevich, and St. John’s Prep’s Jim O’Leary. But Brookline athletic director Peter Rittenburg’s appeal wasn’t too avoid a division, it was to avoid a school, Newton North.

Brookline plays fellow Bay State Conference school Newton North on Thanksgiving and with both schools in Division 1 South, Rittenburg said there were “various scenarios in which we’d play Newton North three games in a year.” Calling it the “cleanest way” to avoid that, Brookline appealed to move to Division 1 North. If that wasn’t acceptable, Brookline asked to be moved into Division 2.

For others, enrollment was the key issue.

Duxbury, the smallest school in Division 2 by more than 100 boys, asked to drop to Division 3. “We feel we are unfairly placed in Division 2 based on past success,” said athletic director Thom Holdgate, whose team went 11-1 in 2012.

Dighton-Rehoboth’s Dave Driscoll cited football roster numbers in the 30s and starting in December, students will have the option of attending Bristol-Plymouth, a vocational school in Taunton. “Participation in football has been down,” said Driscoll, whose school wants to drop from Division 3 Southeast to Division 4.

Dennis-Yarmouth principal Kenneth Jenks asked to drop to Division 4 and cited “cutthroat competion on the Cape” for students. He mentioned Sturgis (Hyannis) and Cape Cod Tech (Harwich) as schools that pull students from D-Y, the smallest school in Division 3 Southeast.

Wareham football coach Dan Nault spoke of a “drastic enrollment drop” in asking the committee to move his school from Division 4 to 5. Bishop Stang, Randolph, King Philip, and Mashpee also cited enrollment in asking to move down a division.

Oliver Ames’s athletic director Bill Matthews asked for his school to drop from Division 3 Southwest to Division 4 “based on competitiveness.” Diman also appealed to drop from Division 5 to Division 6 based on more equitable competition.

Plymouth South (Division 3 Southeast), Southeastern (Division 6), and Martha’s Vineyard (Division 5) all spoke in support of remaining in their respective divisions.

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