Massachusetts high schools adopt new playoff rules

The high school playoff system in Massachusetts will have an entirely new look beginning next fall.

Due to increased participation from schools sponsoring football, and providing more quality teams an opportunity to compete for a state title, the MIAA football committee voted  in favor of adopting new rules by a margin of 161-131 this past Friday.

The new rules will have schools in Eastern and Central Massachusetts playing a seven week regular season schedule, and Western Massachusetts schools will play an eight week regular season. Teams that fail to make the playoffs "will have their remaining three games determined by a scheduling committee before playing their traditional Thanksgiving game," the Boston Globe explains.

According to the Globe, one state champion will come from each of the six divisions, and all state title games will be played at Gillette Stadium. Central and Western Massachusetts schools will compete in Divisions 2, 4, 5, and 6. Those divisions will be based on enrollment and maintaining a competitive balance.

Another one of the major changes coaches and fans will notice is there will be only a fraction of the post Thanksgiving games that they've had in years past. Under the new rules, only 12 schools will play after turkey day, as opposed to the 74 teams who saw action after the holiday this past season. Also, playing semifinal games on a Tuesday and teams playing three games in a total of ten days will not take place under the new rules.

Under the current plan, only league champions get the opportunity to compete in the post season, meaning that you could go 9-1 or 10-1 and not make the post season. Citing the fact that those deserving teams should get the opportunity to compete for a state title and experience the playoff atmosphere, the new rules state that leagues with five or more schools can get two playoff teams (plus the possibility of more based on their power rankings).

Three coaches in particular, Swampscott's Steve Dembrowski, Fitchburg high school's Ray Cosenza and Xaverian's Charlie Stevenson put in numerous hours coming up with the new playoff plan, which included a few tweaks from a 2010 proposal that was voted against.

The new rules will be a two year run beginning in 2013, and will be revisited after that time period to tweak as needed.

We'll have to see how this all plays out over the next few seasons, but we're sure that there are plenty of coaches in Massachusetts that are resting easy knowing that they won't have to plan for three opponents in a span of ten days to win a state title next year.

The Boston Herald did a nice job of covering and summarizing all of the changes over the weekend, and the video below does a good job of explaining how coaches are reacting to the new rules.

The highlight video that Oregon watched before the Arizona State game

Here's the highlight video that Oregon watched before taking the field last weekend against Arizona State. The Ducks didn't need any second half points and rolled to a 43-21 victory.

If they put up 43 in a half after getting hyped up with this video before last weekend's game, we can only imagine what the highlight video for Saturday's match up with Colorado had in it (the Ducks were up 56-0 at the half and rolled to a 70-14 win).

Try to count how many times announcers use the word "speed", or any variation of it in the clip.

After losing all their scholarship quarterbacks, Maryland staff forced to get creative

Regardless of the circumstances, it's never a good thing to have to move a linebacker to quarterback.

Utah found themselves in a similar situation last season.

After losing their third straight scholarship quarterback to a season ending injury in a two week span, that is exactly what Maryland is doing. Last weekend, they lost their first and second string signal callers in the same game and yesterday, third string true freshman quarterback Caleb Rowe finished the game against Boston College with a torn ACL. He woke up on Sunday sore enough to have an MRI which revealed the true extent of the injury.

The injury occurred on the second to last play of the game. Maryland ended up losing 20-17 against the Eagles.

The linebacker who has turned quarterback, Shawn Petty, was an option quarterback in high school and got some practice time with the quarterbacks in last week when Randy Edsall and the staff got confirmation that their top two guys would not return this year. Backing him up will be a converted tight end, Brian McMahon, who also played quarterback in high school.

The new quarterbacks will have to cut their teeth against a Georgia Tech defense next weekend, followed by a trip to Clemson, and then a home game against Florida State. Bowl eligibility is still within reach for the Terps (4-4, 2-2), but that stretch against Clemson and Florida State isn't going to be easy.

Each of Maryland's four losses this year have been by less than 10 points, and they have lost their last two games (to North Carolina State and Boston College) by a combined five points.

With close losses and injuries, 2012 has turned out to be a season full of tough breaks for coach Edsall and his staff. How they regroup and finish may define their season.

Monday TV - San Francisco at Arizona

Jim Harbaugh and the Niners take on Ken Whisenhunt and the Cardinals tonight on ESPN. Enjoy it because there's no college games until Thursday this week.

Eastern time listed.


San Francisco at Arizona - 8:30 - ESPN


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Coaches of the Week - Week 9

Plenty mof great performances were turned in throughout the country yesterday, but these coaches' work stood above the rest to win our Coaches of the Week. 

Head Coach of the Week - Mark Richt, Georgia: Considering the way his team entered Saturday's game, and the way Georgia's 17-9 win over Florida was played (nine turnovers, 24 penalties), Mark Richt must feel like Andy Dufresne after he crawled through Shawshank's sewer system and came out clean on the other side. Georgia entered Saturday on a three-game stretch in which, sandwiched around a 28-point loss to South Carolina, the Bulldogs had beaten Tennessee and Kentucky (combined SEC wins: zero) by a total of 12 points. None of that mattered, however, as Richt's team managed to win a game in which it threw three first half interceptions, committed 14 penalties, missed a field goal and nullified a successful onside kick with an offsides flag. The Bulldogs won by forcing six turnovers of their own, erasing Florida's power running game (two yards per carry on 41 attempts) and bookending the scoring with opportunitstic touchdown drives.

Georgia now stands in a position where wins over Ole Miss and Auburn (combined SEC wins: two) will send the Bulldogs to Atlanta in early December for the second year in a row. 

Offensive Staff of the Week - Kent State: The Golden Flashes not only got their first win over an AP Top 25 opponent in school history on Saturday, they did it going away by smashing Rutgers, 35-23. Rutgers came into Saturday surrendering just 11.3 points per game, a mark which Darrell Hazell's team bested by the 13:21 mark of the second quarter. Offensive coordinator Brian Rock and offensive line coach Chris Bache's game plan was simple - just do what you do. For the fourth time this season the Golden Flashes topped 200 rushing yards, carrying 50 times for 224 yards and achieving 14 first downs by rush. Mixed with seven turnovers forced by the Kent State defense, Hazell's team was able to occupy the ball for more than 37 minutes on Saturday. 

"We came on the road against a very tough opponent," Hazell said. "We knew they were going to be tough, and they did a great job prior to playing us. I thought our kids prepared like crazy this week." The win gives Kent State its first six-game winning streak in 72 years and moves Hazell's squad one step closer to its first bowl appearance since 1972. 

Defensive Staff of the Week - Notre Dame: This isn't the first time Bob Diaco and co. have won the Defensive Staff of the Week in FootballScoop's short history of weekly coaching awards, and if the Fighting Irish continue to play like they did Saturday night it certainly won't be the last. Once again Notre Dame forced an opponent into its worst offensive outing of the season by way of sure tackling, stifling red zone defense and timely turnovers. All three ingredients were prevalent in Notre Dame's 30-13 win over Oklahoma. The Irish secondary surrendered the short stuff to the Oklahoma passing game but never let anything get behind them and limited yards after the catch. "We were going to give up yards to keep the points down," Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said. "We could not let the points get out of reach for us. This was the first time we showed we could … put some points on the board. But we could not have won this football game if the points got up in the numbers that were probably out of reach for our offense."

As a result, Oklahoma threw for 356 yards but needed 51 attempts to get there. Notre Dame shut down the OU running game, holding the Sooners to 15 yards on 24 carries, in limiting them to season lows in points, rushing yards and total yards. Notre Dame forced field goals in two of Oklahoma's three red zone trips and, protecting a 20-13 lead late in the fourth quarter, produced a timely interception when linebacker Manti Te'o snagged a deflected ball at the Oklahoma 45-yard line. Six plays later Notre Dame put the game out of reach with a 46-yard field goal. 

Special Teams Staff of the Week - North Carolina: It's unclear why N.C. State punted to Giovani Bernard, the nation's leading punt returner, with the game tied 35-35 in the waning seconds before overtime. What is clear is that overtime never happened because Bernard took the punt 74 yards for a score to give North Carolina a 43-35 win. The return was much more than just Bernard - watch below how good his blocking is as he runs behind a wall down the right sideline. But before Bernard ever had a chance to win the game, Tar Heels kicker Casey Barth had to hit a 34-yard field goal with 1:24 left to play to knot the score at 35-35 in the first place. North Carolina punter Thomas Hibbard also had an excellent day with nine punts for a net average of 41.1 yards with a long of 60 and three kicks pinned inside the 20-yard line. 


Call of the Week - Mack Brown and Bryan Harsin, Texas: Texas was a quarter away from being the first Big 12 team to lose to Kansas since 2010, and the first current Big 12 team to fall to the Jayhawks since Iowa State in 2009, when Brown inserted backup quarterback Case McCoy to spark the Longhorns to a 21-17 win. McCoy didn't do much in his first drive as Texas ran all nine plays of its 84-yard drive to tie the game at 14-14 with 9:41 to go. After Kansas used a seven-minute drive to reclaim the lead at 17-14, McCoy came alive. He hit five passes in a row, including an 18-yard gain on fourth-and-six and a 39-yard connection to get Texas to the KU three-yard line, before Harsin dialed up a play-action lob where McCoy found tight end D.J. Grant alone in the corner of the end zone on third-and-goal with 12 seconds to play to seal the win. 

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