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Sports

How does new school football playoff work?

Abington captain Matthew Whalen and head coach Jim Kelliher discuss the new playoff system.

Debee Tlumacki for the Boston Globe

Abington captain Matthew Whalen and head coach Jim Kelliher discuss the new playoff system.

For the 291 football-playing MIAA schools, this is definitely a new year. An October 2012 vote created a state-wide playoff system, and after months of fine-tuning, it’s ready to roll.

The format will increase the number of playoff participants and reduce the number of Super Bowls. It may also increase anxiety and confusion among fans.

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We may not have all the answers, but what follows should help you understand the new football landscape. A calculator wouldn’t hurt, either.

How it works

Instead of 19 regional Super Bowls spread across EMass, CMass, and WMass, there will be six this season. Instead of just 32 EMass teams playing in the postseason, 112 will compete this fall. Each of the six Super Bowl games will be played at Gillette Stadium on Saturday, Dec. 7. Here’s a look at the new alignments:

Division 1: Only the 24 EMass schools will compete for the state title. Fourteen of the 24 were in Division 1 last fall, five in Division 1A, and five in Division 2. Brockton is the largest school (2,265 boys), Catholic Memorial the smallest (567). CM would also be the smallest school in Division 2. Catholic Conference schools have won four of the last five Division 1 titles.

Division 2: With Durfee the largest school (1,124 boys) and East Longmeadow the smallest (451), this state-wide division features EMass schools that were in four different divisions last fall, including seven league champions. It also includes Nashoba, owners of the state’s longest active win streak (26), Division 1 CMass champion Leominster, and Division 1 WMass winner Springfield Central.

Division 3: The other division limited to just EMass schoools, these 46 schools will be divided into Northeast, Southeast, Northwest, and Southwest sectionals. Schools were spread across Divisions 1A, 2, 2A, 3, and 3A last fall. Revere (766 boys) is the largest school, Wayland (436) the smallest.

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Division 4: The 32 EMass schools (split between North and South) join with 13 CMass schools and 8 from WMass. Of last year’s three Division 4 champions, only Grafton returns to the same division. And the EMass sectionals are wide open. Only three of the 32 teams, Amesbury, Lynnfield, and Westwood, made the playoffs last fall.

Division 5: Call this the diverse division, with Boston schools, vocational schools, large schools (Greater Lowell at 1,104) and small schools (Springfield Cathedral at 191). Thirty are from EMass, 14 from CMass, 12 from WMass. Neither of last year’s Division 5 winners (Upper Cape and West Boylston) are in this division this fall.

Division 6: This division existed only in CMass last fall and Blackstone Valley is back to defend its title, this time with competition from 69 other schools. The largest Division 6 school, Diman with 768 boys, is bigger than two Division 1 schools (CM and Central Catholic). The smallest football school in the state plays here, St. Joseph Central of Pittsfield with just 72 boys.

Crunch time on Oct. 27

Oct. 27 will be a very busy day in Franklin. The state’s 291 schools will be split into two groups, playoff teams, and non-qualifiers. MIAA tournament directors will seed the playoff teams and release the pairings on the website. And separate MIAA Scheduling Committees will take the non-qualifiers, seed them, and create a schedule for week 8. Here’s a timeline for the last Sunday in October.

Noon -- Each league is required to forward their league’s automatic qualifiers and final league power ratings to the MIAA by noon.

2 p.m.* -- The tentative time for the seeding meeting. Tentative, because if there are weather postponements it would have to take place after 4 p.m.

4 p.m. -- If games are postponed due to weather on Oct. 26, the game must be played on the 27th and the results must be submitted to the MIAA by 4 p.m.

6 p.m. -- If a school decides to appeal the scheduling committee’s Week 8-10 non-playoff opponent, the appeal must be submitted to the Scheduling Committee chair by 6 p.m.

The formula

How will your school’s power rating be determined? You’ll need a calculator, for starters. There are two numbers involved, your value and your opponent’s value.

Own value

12 points for a win over a team in a higher division.

10 points for a win over a team in the same division.

8 points for a win over a team in a lower division.

Opponent’s value

3 points for every win by an opponent that you have beaten.

1 point for every win by an opponent that you have lost to.

Ties are half the value (1.5 points or .5 points).

Final rating

(Own value + opponents value) /number of games played.

Who’s caught short?

The one thing you don’t want to be this fall is a very good second-place team in the Old Colony League or the Big Three. That’s because the new system favors leagues with five or more teams.

For example, say Brockton and Barnstable each go 7-0 to win the Big Three and OCL titles. According to the format, each qualifies for the postseason. But what if New Bedford and Bridgewater-Raynham go 6-1 and finish second? Despite the impressive record — and probable high power rating — the odds would be against each making the postseason.

That’s because the second-place finisher in three-team leagues like the OCL and Big Three would have to qualify for the divisional bracket as a wild card. In order to get the eight teams in a divisional bracket, the first-place finishers will be placed first followed by the second-place finishers. If the total number of first and second-place finishers is less than eight teams, the remaining spots will be filled by the highest power rated wild-card teams (in our example, B-R and New Bedford).

Once these eight teams have been established in each division, they will then be seeded by the power rating system. The good news? If a wild-card team does make the cut, it could be seeded higher than an automatic qualifying team.

On the hot seat

Not in the postseason? Following are the individuals and committees that will decide the schedules for schools that do not qualify for the postseason, as well as for teams eliminated from the playoffs in November.

NORTH COMMITTEE

Sean Gallagher

Beverly Principal

Gary Molea

Lynn English Athletic Director

Daniel Keefe

Malden Athletic Director

Edward Gillis

Burlington Athletic Director

Two District H representatives

SOUTH COMMITTEE

George Usevich

Norwood Principal

Paul O’Boy

Bishop Feehan Athletic Director

Peter Shaughnessy

Bishop Stang Principal

District C representative

Two District H representatives

CENTRAL COMMITTEE

James Pignataro

Grafton Principal

Tom Lauder

Leicester Principal

Jay Costa

Shrewsbury Athletic Director

Ray Cosenza

Fitchburg Athletic Director

Four league representatives

WEST COMMITTEE

Brian Beck

Athol Principal

David King

Athol Athletic Director

William Bryce

Drury Assistant Principal

Jake Schulz

Hoosac Valley Athletic Director

Five league representatives

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