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High School Football

MIAA football committee ready to present plan for new playoffs format to Tournament Management Committee

Swampscott won the Division 5 Super Bowl at Gillette Stadium in 2021.Barry Chin/Globe Staff

FRANKLIN — With less than two months to go before a new playoff proposal goes before the Tournament Management Committee, the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association football committee discussed any further steps to be taken at its meeting Monday morning.

The playoff proposal, developed by Milton coach Steve Dembowski and modeled after a similar format utilized in Connecticut that would extend the regular season through Thanksgiving, cut the number of teams qualifying for the postseason in half, and eliminate non-playoff games, will be presented to the TMC on Nov. 13.

Dembowski has championed the format as a way to make the regular season more important.


He said no other sport offered by the MIAA has consolation games built into the schedule like football. After an eight-week regular season, teams that don’t qualify for the football postseason are assigned two non-playoff games prior to Thanksgiving while the remainder of the state participates in the playoffs. Teams eliminated after the first round of the playoffs get an additional non-playoff game on their schedule.

“We’re hurting the smaller schools,” Dembowski said, adding that a majority of first-round postseason games between the upper and lower seeds haven’t been competitive.

The new format would still include state championship games at Gillette Stadium MIAA football liaison Richard Pearson confirmed that all eight 2023 Super Bowls will be played in Foxborough, but will “likely” be played on Wednesday, Nov. 29 through Friday, Dec. 1, with two games on the first day and three on the final two because Gillette Stadium could be hosting Major League Soccer playoff games on the weekend.

In other news from the meeting:

▪ Excel High School in South Boston cancelled its football season in early September, leaving three of its opponents scrambling to fill schedules to meet the minimum of seven regular season games required to qualify for the postseason. Two opponents – Brighton and English – were able to add games to their slate, but Tech Boston has remained stuck on six.


Billy Sittig, assistant athletic director at Boston Public Schools, cited a precedent set within the city two seasons ago allowing teams to remain postseason-eligible with six games, when English and Tech Boston were left with only six games when Charlestown bowed out.

“Just kind of the nature of football with where we’re at right now, especially in Boston,” Sittig said. “Numbers are low.”

A motion to allow Tech Boston, aligned in Division 8, to remain postseason eligible passed unanimously.

▪ Bishop Fenwick, which remains ineligible for the postseason in football along with all other sports for the 2023-24 school year, will not be included in the MIAA’s power ratings upon their release. In terms of how this will affect the Crusaders’ opponents, Fenwick will be treated like an out-of-state team in the power rankings.

▪ Shrewsbury athletic director Jay Costa was reelected as chair of the football committee and Don Heres, athletic director at Northeast Metro, was reelected as vice chair. Dave Pignone, athletic director at Stoneham, was selected as secretary.

▪ The MIAA football committee is next scheduled to meet on Jan. 9, 2024.