By Ernie Clark, Bangor Daily News staff When the conversation turned to football, Steve Vanidestine couldn’t help but smile about the sport’s expected return this fall. This week’s release of statewide high school football schedules marked another step towards normalcy for supporters of a sport that was canceled amid the coronavirus pandemic to be too high risk. .
By Ernie Clark, Bangor Daily News Staff
When the conversation turned to football, Steve Vanidestine couldn’t help but smile about the sport’s expected return this fall.
This week’s release of statewide high school football schedules marked another step towards normalcy for supporters of a sport that was canceled amid the coronavirus pandemic to be too high risk. .
“Doesn’t it feel like that?” Said Vanidestine, former player and coach at Bangor High School and now longtime sports administrator for his alma mater. ” That’s what I feel. Crossed fingers.”
Much of the work on the 2021 calendars, which was done prior to the 2020 season, has been put on hold due to football’s risk categorization according to the state’s community sports guidelines that the Maine Principals’ Association has followed.
But with these risk guidelines withdrawn by the state last month, schools are allowed to resume traditional football competitions as long as there is no resurgence of the pandemic that could cause a course reversal.
“You’re excited for the kids, you’re excited for the coaches,” said Fred Lower, sports administrator at Hampden Academy and chair of the MPA football committee. “You feel bad for the seniors from last year who didn’t have the same opportunity. Last fall we came up with a proposal and thought it was safe to do it, but it didn’t, so it’s okay now that we’re back.
Bangor High School will open its Class A season on September 3-4 at neighboring Brewer. He’s one of the Rams’ two Class B opponents with Deering of Portland, in addition to seven games against Class A enemies.
“I couldn’t be happier that the schedule has come out,” Vanidestine said. “We’re at Brewer to open the season and we’re happy to be ready to go. I just hope football is normal and we can go out and do it right.
For the first time this fall, teams can downgrade from their designated enrollment class to a lower class and remain eligible for the playoffs.
Hampden Academy is one of the schools that hope to take advantage of this opportunity when moving from class B to class C.
“C North is where we are in the sport of football,” said Lower. “If you look at Hampden football over the last 15 or 20 years when they’ve been successful in competition is when they were playing against these teams that are in Class C North. … Hopefully this will help us increase the numbers and be more competitive in the games.
Hampden will be joined in C North by Belfast, Hampden, Hermon, the Maine Central Institute of Pittsfield, Medomak Valley of Waldoboro, Nokomis of Newport, Oceanside of Rockland, Old Town and Winslow.
Three schools left this division: John Bapst of Bangor at class D, and Waterville and Mount Desert Island at the ranks of eight players.
Class D will include a statewide division comprising Bucksport, Foxcroft Academy of Dover-Foxcroft, Freeport, John Bapst, Lisbon-St. Dominic, Madison-Carrabec, Oak Hill of Wales, Poland and Winthrop-Monmouth. Each team will play eight games over nine weeks, with one game off.
The most significant change from 2019 is the expansion of eight-player football from 10 schools to 26, with 12 in the large schools division and 14 in the small schools ranks.
Schools that are new to eight-player football are the great schools Camden Hills of Rockport, Cheverus of Portland, Lake Region of Naples, MDI, Morse of Bath, Spruce Mountain of Jay, Washington Academy of East Machias and Waterville. New candidates for small schools are Dexter, Dirigo de Dixfield, Houlton, Mattanawcook Academy of Lincoln, Mt. View of Thorndike, Mountain Valley from Rumford, Orono and Stearns-Schenck.
Another priority for 2021 is to offer full eight-game college calendars to help programs grow. This effort includes replacing longer trips on university schedules with more localized JV competition.
Brewer, for example, faces long university trips to Brunswick, Windham, Mt. Farmington Blue and Falmouth-Greely. These opponents are being substituted for junior varsity matches against nearby Bucksport, Hampden, Foxcroft Academy and Bangor.
“The JV calendar is as important as the college calendar because a lot of the rosters don’t know what they’re going to have as numbers because they didn’t have a season last year,” said Dave Utterback, sports administrator for the Brewer School department. and chairman of the AMP classification committee. “Some of these [varsity] matches were created because you’re more in a statewide model with a lot of that, and there were a few JV matches that we needed to tweak to keep football’s interest in local communities and communities. regions.
“I don’t expect Windham to send their JV team to Doyle Field on a Monday [in Brewer]. It is simply unreasonable.
Lower expects football schedules to be revised each year as teams continue to change rankings.
“We understand that football is a different sport and that movement is allowed in eight or back eights at class D which teams are going to change from year to year.”