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    Elimination of North/South automatic qualifiers eyed

    FRANKLIN — In the name of establishing consistency within the state playoff system, the MIAA’s 19-member Football Committee voted unanimously on Tuesday morning to consider eliminating the automatic qualifiers for league/conference champions in the North and South sections.

    On the motion of St. John’s Prep athletic director Jim O’Leary, the official vote will be taken at the committee’s next meeting scheduled for May 15.

    The MIAA’s Tournament Management Committee (TMC) has charged all of the association’s sport committees to strive for statewide consistency. For tournament qualification, the West section utilizes the Walker System (for all sports, with more weight placed on strength of schedule/opponent), Central seeds based on Power Ratings, and the North/South sections — covering 20 leagues/conferences from the Atlantic Coast to the Tri-Valley — selects the field with automatic qualifiers and Power Ratings.


    But the inclusion of every league/conference champion in the North and South brackets have not necessarily resulted in the best eight teams in Divisions 1-8 earning tourney spots.

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    A vote was considered Tuesday, but in the interest of informing leagues/member schools and the state coaches association through representative Steve Dembowski (Milton), it was tabled until May.

    The Football Committee also tabled a vote till May on a proposal from Dennis Donovan, representing the state officials, to clarify the policy for overtime periods in non-playoff games, making it uniform statewide.

     The inaugural Friday/Saturday Super Bowl experience for Divisions 1-8 at Gillette Stadium on the first weekend in December resulted in attendance increase of 1,019 spectators (26,427 from 25,318) from 2016, when Gillette hosted six games. The D1 final was held in Lynn and D8 at Worcester State.

    “All eight games, any day we can do it at Gillette — we’re pleased that the Krafts came forward and opened their doors to us,” said MIAA associate director Richard Pearson.


    MIAA certainly would like to make it happen again in 2018. But the association is at the mercy of the NFL schedule. Can Gillette, as Pearson noted, handle a 2-6-1 scenario: 2 MIAA games on Friday, 6 on Saturday, and a Patriots’ home game on Sunday? By the May 15 committee meeting, the NFL schedule will be official, providing clarity.

     Nashoba Valley Tech (Westford), formerly a member of the Colonial Athletic League (Central), is moving to the Commonwealth Athletic Conference (North). In last year’s realignment, Nashoba was slotted in Division 7, but successfully appealed down to D8 and advanced to the state semifinals (losing to Hoosac Valley, 76-34). The Vikings also lost to Lynn Tech, 50-22, in the State Voke final. Committee member Don Heres, athletic director and football coach at Northeast Metro Tech, said Nashoba is a “Division 8 school.” But the committee voted, 12-6, with one abstaination, to place the program in Division 7, based on its reported roster size (76). The school can once again appeal.

    Craig Larson can be reached at craig.larson@globe.com