More is better as far as the new Pine Tree Conference football schedule goes.

A new format for Eastern A football was approved this week. It includes the addition of an extra round of playoffs and doubles the number of playoff teams.

“Now we’ve got eight teams in the playoffs,” said Mt. Blue coach Gary Parlin. “We had 11 teams, and only four made it. This way any number of teams can be playoff teams. In every other sport, its like 66 percent make it. This is more equitable and fair.”

The PTC had tried a number of ways to rid itself of the bye week with an odd number of teams, but no proposals seemed feasible. With Brewer’s jump to Eastern A, it brings the total to 12 teams.

Each year seems to feature a club or two that narrowly miss the playoffs.

Parlin’s club would have made it last year under the new format. Teams like Bangor and Lewiston were near misses in other years.

“Now we have another week of playoffs by adding the quarterfinal round,” said Jason Fuller, the Lewiston athletic director, who created the schedule. “That’s a big positive and it makes us equal with the West.”

Western Maine teams have had a quarterfinal round while Eastern A teams did not.

“I think that was a big thing,” said Fuller.

“We wanted to get rid of the bye week. There were some positives and negatives about the bye week, but we got rid of the bye week and made another week of playoffs.

The new schedule also has the 12 Eastern A teams broken up into two divisions. Mt. Blue, Skowhegan, Messalonskee, Lawrence, Brewer and Bangor are in the North while Lewiston, Edward Little, Brunswick, Mt. Ararat, Oxford Hills and Cony are in the South. It makes the schedules more travel-friendly and maintains local rivalries.

Parlin spoke out against the structure of the two divisions and says creating a schedule from the 12 teams is more fair. The travel issues aren’t as significant in football, he says, and rivalries would still be maintained.

“I just hope a team doesn’t get bumped from the playoffs because some division has an easy schedule or a harder schedule,” he said.

Fuller says the only reason for the divisions is to have some sort of process in the scheduling. Rather than doing the equivalent of picking teams out of a hat, separating the teams by divisions allows for a base set of games that works geographically and still enables for three crossover games.

“I didn’t want to haphazardly assign teams,” said Fuller. “We wanted to have some kind of system. There’s something about the randomness of picking games from the 12 teams. We wanted to avoid that.”

Teams will play the five clubs within their section and then play three games against teams from the other division. Fuller tried to pair teams geographically within divisions. That allows for crossover games to include one of those teams one year and the other team on the next schedule. For example, on one two-year schedule, a team in the South might get Bangor. Then two years later, they’d get Brewer.

“In your crossover games, you had one team in that geographical group,” said Fuller. “It almost creates a four-year rotation for us.”

Crossover games that featured teams that hadn’t played each other regularly was also a determining factor.

“I know we haven’t played Cony, Messalsonkee or Brewer in the regular season, said Fuller. “So we got Messalonskee and lost Lawrence because of that. Anybody you hadn’t played, we made that a priority.”


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