FRANKLIN — The 2019 calendar lines up such that Massachusetts high school football teams have an extra week to either rest up or schedule another game.
On Wednesday, the MIAA football committee voted to allow teams to add an exclusion or endowment game to their schedule.
Exclusions allow teams (usually from lower divisions) to play exclusion schools (usually from higher divisions) without the game counting toward their state tournament seeding or official record. The exclusion schools must count the game towards their record, but this practice allows some schools to fill their schedules with the mandatory six games.
For a $300 fee, teams can play MIAA endowment games that won’t count toward the official record for either program.
“The opportunity to fill these dates in any of those ways is beneficial,” said Milton coach Steve Dembowski, the coaches’ representative on the football committee.
“This is going to give a decent Division 3 team an opportunity to play a Division 1 team and not have it count for their record, and it works for those exclusion schools that need games.”
The football committee also recognized the difficulties in transitioning from modified NCAA rules to National Federation of State High School rules this season.
MIAA associate director Richard Pearson offered a plan to host four regional meetings for coaches and officials, separately, to go over the 238 rule alterations involved in the transition. The plan is for the first wave of meetings to be held at the end of March and early April, followed by a second round in June, and potentially a third round in August.
The committee also approved the format for predetermined sites in sectional finals and state semifinals. Instead of the previous rotation among designated regional sites (North, Central, etc.), a list of non-neutral, predetermined sites will be identified ahead of the season.
The venues for sectional finals and state semifinals will then be selected from that list in an effort to be as “geographically sensitive as possible” to the qualifying teams.
Discussions also began on the process of realignment when the next cycle begins in the 2020-21 season.
According to football committee chairman and St. John’s Prep athletic director Jim O’Leary, large-enrollment teams in the Central and West may be aligned more appropriately so that they can compete against Division 1 and 2 programs in the eastern half of the state.
Private schools may move up a division, and vocational schools may move down two divisions, with the opportunity for any school to go through an appeals process based on their circumstances.
In 2020, the committee also will begin using an algorithm created by MaxPreps to seed teams for the state tournament.
“The algorithm is a good indicator of the strength of a program,” said Wahconah athletic director Jared Shannon. “At the end of the day, seeds 1 through 10 are going to be the best programs in that region of the state.”
“We want the exciting point to be, everyone goes to their local newspaper on Saturday morning and checks their ratings,” said O’Leary. “We think that would be good for all sports.”
Nate Weitzer can be reached at email@example.com.