FRANKLIN — Having just won a vote to become chairman of the MIAA Football Committee, Grafton principal Jim Pignataro quickly turned his sights to a much bigger vote Oct. 26.
That day, at Assabet Regional in Marlboro, the 373 schools that make up the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association roster will vote on the new state-wide football playoff system. That vote was the main topic at Wednesday’s first meeting of the Football Committee in Franklin. Among the benefits the supporters of the proposal point to, one stood out to the former Shrewsbury High football player-turned-committee chair.
“I think the major thing is that it gets us to a statewide champion, across all divisions,’’ said Pignataro, 50, who was Grafton’s head football coach for nine years before stepping down after the 2000 season. “We’ve been talking about that for years.
“Is everybody going to agree with every part of this proposal? Probably not, but it gets us closer to that state champion, and that to me is the huge benefit.
“Are there significant changes? There’s no doubt there is, but I think it gets us to that ultimate goal. What other sports do not have a true statewide champion?’’
While the committee talked about strategy for the upcoming vote, one school it doesn’t have to worry about is Grafton.
“We’re going to vote for it,’’ said Pignataro.
“It’s a radical change,’’ said Bishop Feehan athletic director Paul O’Boy. “My feeling is, make it work.”
“Everything has problems, but this really benefits kids playing football,” said Xaverian athletic director and football coach Charlie Stevenson. “We need to focus on the benefits to student-athletes.”
If passed, the two-year pilot plan creates a playoff system similar to other sports, with a seven-game regular season in EMass followed by playoffs. In addition to league winners, second- and even third-place finishers also could qualify for the playoffs.
Thanksgiving would be unaffected. There would be six divisions, with all the state championships held at Gillette Stadium. There were 19 Super Bowls statewide last fall.
The MIAA will post two different potential divisional alignments for football, each of which would begin in the 2013-14 season and run four years. One alignment keeps the current league format, one is for the potential new system. Schools can appeal their placement.
After Pignataro was voted chairman, the committee voted St. John’s Prep athletic director Jim O’Leary as vice chairman and Stevenson remained secretary.