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MIAA now has a roadmap to 12-minute quarters for football championships at Gillette Stadium

Scituate needed every second of the 12-minute quarters to rally past Patriot League rival Duxbury, 14-13, for the MIAA Division 4 championship at Gillette Stadium on Dec. 3, 2021.John Tlumacki/Globe Staff

The season-long success of the New England Revolution, and the potential of hosting a playoff game on the first Saturday in December, prompted the Kraft Sports Group and the MIAA to get creative in scheduling the 2021 high school football championships at Gillette Stadium.

Their audible resulted in eight Super Bowls, played over three consecutive days, Dec. 1-3, with 12-minute quarters, following the regular-season length of game script under national federation guidelines. That format, and its success — played in front of 21,600 total spectators (an increase of 2,000 from 2019) — could pave the way for tweaks to the two-day slate at Gillette going forward.


In a virtual meeting with the MIAA Football Committee Wednesday, associate executive director Richard Pearson said the goal will be to schedule three Super Bowls at Gillette, starting at 3:30 p.m. on the first Friday in December, followed by five Super Bowls that Saturday.

All games would be played with 12-minute quarters, rather than the 10-minute quarters employed in previous seasons to accommodate a six-game slate on Saturday.

Following the first statewide tournament, the committee also began to address concerns with the new power ratings system that determined seedings and qualifications for all eight divisions.

On behalf of the Massachusetts High School Football Coaches Association, Milton coach Steve Dembowski asked if the power ratings formula could be revised to adjust ahead of the next football season.

The formula, which combines margin of victory with strength of schedule, does not account for wins and losses. Teams that played in conferences with weaker overall records suffered in the seedings process despite posting excellent records, and a few teams with one or two losses missed out on the tournament entirely. In Division 7, West Bridgewater was 6-1 at seeding time, but was not in the top 16 in the power ratings. The Wildcats finished 8-2 (and 15th PR). Algonquin (D2: 6-2; 8-3 overall) and Worcester Tech (D5: 7-1; 8-3) were two other examples.


Dennis-Yarmouth principal Paul Funk, formerly the head coach at D-Y, echoed the sentiment that wins and losses need to become a bigger factor in the power ratings.

Dembowski also asked if the cutoff for margin of victory could be further analyzed.

Currently, the system credits teams with the same margin of victory for any win by 14 or more points, but the MHSFCA might prefer the cutoff is closer to 21 points, a margin that truly allows coaches to take their foot off the proverbial gas pedal.

Committee members also expressed a need to get the seedings and pairings out to teams quicker next season. Due to a rainstorm that caused several postponements on the final Friday of the regular season last November, the pairings for the state tournament were not released until Sunday night, leaving coaches with limited time to prepare for the week of practice.

According to Pearson, the MIAA’s tournament management committee (which meets Thursday) will need to analyze postseason results from all three athletic seasons over the past year before making changes to the power ratings or postseason format.

The football committee is scheduled to meet again on March 1, at MIAA headquarters in Franklin, unless health and safety protocols dictate that a virtual meeting is the best course of action. Further discussion of power ratings likely will be on the agenda.