Oceanside appeals placement in Eastern Class BIf not moved to Western B, Mariners plan to petition down to Class C
Rockland — While the new Maine Principals' Association four-class proposal for the 2013 high school football season is a positive development for many, representatives from Oceanside High School do not consider themselves part of that company.
The Mariners were slated to compete in Western Class B in the fall based on a proposal sent to schools in August, but last-minute shuffling by the MPA football committee moved the Mariners to Eastern Class B, which arguably has become the toughest and most competitive division in Maine high school football.
Oceanside athletic director Jim Leonard and Mariner varsity coach Woody Moore were not notified of the last-minute change from Western Class B to Eastern Class B.
"The information I had to make an informed decision on was changed after the fact without my knowledge," said Leonard.
The MPA's classification committee will meet Thursday, Jan. 3 before the proposal is sent to the interscholastic management committee before final approval is given at the association's spring conference in March.
Leonard plans to attend the classification committee meeting in January to state his case.
Leonard said if his appeal to be placed in Western Class B is not granted, he will then petition to play in Class C, meaning the Mariners would forgo the opportunity to participate in the playoffs for two seasons.
Based on numbers from April 1, Oceanside's enrollment sits at 679 students, making it the second smallest school in Eastern Class B. However, that number does put the Mariners in Class B. The MPA does not allow schools that petition down in class to participate in the playoffs.
The committee likely made the decision based on the fact the Oceanside, which participates in the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class B division in most sports, has more ties to Eastern Class B schools.
"I can understand how they arrived at that decision, but it would have been nice for them to call me during that meeting since I represented the affected school," said Leonard. "If they had, I would have told them I'd like to petition down [to Class C]."
As it is currently configured for next year, Eastern Class B would include Skowhegan, Messalonskee of Oakland, Cony of Augusta, Lawrence of Fairfield, Hampden Academy, Mount Blue of Farmington, Brewer, Gardiner and Oceanside.
Skowhegan, Cony, Messalonskee and Lawrence would all drop from Class A to Class B, while Hampden Academy, Mount Blue, Brewer and Gardiner all were playoff teams last year in Class B's Pine Tree Conference.
Lawrence participated in the Class A state finals last fall, losing to Thornton Academy of Saco, while Mount Blue won the state Class B championship over Marshwood of Eliot.
The Mariners did not face Hampden Academy or Brewer last season, but were outscored by Gardiner and Mount Blue a combined 83-6 in two regular-season contests.
"I'm not saying it would have 100 percent changed my mind with what we would have done, but it certainly would have been something I would have spent a little more time considering," coach Moore said last month in reference to the change. "[Class] B East is like the SEC (college football's powerhouse Division I Southeastern Conference) and [Class] B West is like [college football's Division] I-AA."
Under the proposed configuration, Class B West includes Mount Ararat of Topsham, Falmouth, Marshwood, Kennebunk, Greely of Cumberland, Westbrook, Fryeburg Academy, Morse of Bath and York.
Currently in Maine high school football, there are three classes and six regions: Eastern and Western Class A, Eastern and Western Class B and Eastern and Western Class C. Under the four-class system, there will be eight regions and four classes, adding Eastern and Western Class D.
Courier Publications Associate Sports Director Mark Haskell can be reached at 207-594-4401 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.