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Award Winning Ideas to Save High School Football in Maine

It was a weekend of celebration for high school football players, coaches and fans. The Gaziano Awards named its newest winners for offensive and defensive lineman of the year.

The Fitzpatrick trophy was given out to the states top ‘skill’ player.

Among all the celebrating was continued conversation about the state of high school football in our state, specifically class A.

In a word, it is broken, and most people agree on that. But how to fix it is debatable. I won’t pretend that any of the ideas I share are exclusively mine as I have spoken with a lot of coaches recently. So this is a combination of my own personal opinion, and that of some coaches and players.

As it stands right now, and it has been this way for more than a few years, there is a huge gap between the haves and the have not’s. Thornton Academy, Bonny Eagle and Scarborough have dominated Class A, and the other teams are left fighting for fourth place.

This past year it was decided that the class would only contain eight teams. Therefore the ‘David’ teams would have to play all three of the ‘Goliaths’. What you may have expected to happen, materialized exactly as you thought it would. The top three feasted on the bottom five and when the “playoffs” started, it was more sacrificial lamb than competitive football.

Here’s what I would do: mandate two, three or four crossover games with lower classes. If Leavitt wants to play Bonny Eagle, let them. If Biddeford wants TA back on the schedule, perfect.

This will serve two purposes.

1- More teams to play against will mean less chance that the bottom teams will have to pay all three of the top teams.

2- This will in theory make the games more competitive, and maybe even keep the interest of players in the schools don’t really enjoy getting pounded on a regular basis.

Somethings have to happen for this to be a reality.

1- Do away with the heal point system and use Crabtree standings. I won’t bore you with the details of how the systems work, but with Crabtree, you’re not penalized as badly for a loss. In fact you get credit for playing the tougher teams because you get points every time your opponents win games. So there would be incentive for the lower class teams to play the class A teams, especially the good ones.

2- Athletic directors and coaches need to get creative and think outside the box. What we have now is not working. You’re risking everybody going to eight man football in the interest of safety and competitiveness.

Things cannot be “the way they have always been” anymore. Times have changed, the culture has changed, and if they affect the actors and coaches truly cared about the future of the sport of football and not just their own programs, these are easy decisions to make.

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