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McCann Tech will likely have an opportunity to compete to be in a 16-team vocational school tournament next fall.

If the members of the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association's Football Committee has their way, a team will need a minimum number of wins to play in next fall's new statewide tournament.

The committee voted 7-6-2 to approve a proposal that would require teams win a minimum of three games in order to qualify for the tournament.

"I think there should be a discussion about having a minimum number of wins to qualify for the tournament," said Steve Dembowski, committee member and Milton High School football coach.

Dembowski said that adapting the 2019 results and seeds into the 2021 proposal would have seen several teams with no or one win campaigns qualifying for the tourney.

"There were several teams that would have made the top 16 in multiple divisions with zero or one or two wins, while other teams wouldn't have," Dembowski said. "Looking at it objectively, we put 50 percent of the weighting into the strength of schedule. I think we ought to have some kind of a minimum number of wins to qualify. I don't think any of us want an 0-7 team or a 1-6 team in a tournament."

Looking at all of the teams that qualified in 2019, two of the bottom three seeds in the Division III South Tournament had won two games. Whitman-Hanson, the No. 6 seed, went 2-5 while eighth-seeded Bishop Feehan also was 2-5. Bellingham, the eight seed in Division VII South was also 2-5. In Division V North, both Amesbury and Somerville finished 2-5. Amesbury did, however, upset second-seeded Bedford and third-seeded Lynnfield en route to the championship game.

An overwhelming number of sports require teams to win 50 percent of their games in order to qualify for postseason play. There was also the Sullivan Rule, which allowed teams that won 50 percent of their games against opponents from their division to qualify if the majority of the schedule were against teams in higher divisions. With the coming of the new state tournament format, the Sullivan Rule is no longer applicable. In football, it never was.

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"In football, because we don't have that 50-percent rule for qualifying, it gets exasperating," said committee member Jim O'Leary of St. John's Prep. "I think that would be a viable adjustment to the power rating system for the sport of football."

The Tournament Management Committee will have their say on this proposal at a future meeting.

The TMC will also get to weigh in on a proposal that expands the Massachusetts Vocational Tournament from eight teams to 16 teams. The proposal comes from the Massachusetts Vocational Athletic Directors Association, and was brought up at the MIAA meeting by Don Heres, the football coach and athletic director at Northeast Metro Tech in Wakefield. The proposal would permit vocational schools to opt out of week 10 of the season to expand the vocational tournament. No vocational team still involved in MIAA playoffs would be permitted to do that. There would be eight large division schools and eight small division schools. McCann Tech is part of the small school division.

"In week 10, we would have our own tournament," said Heres. 

The plan for week 10 is to play the first round, with semifinals played on either Nov. 17 or 18, with the championship games before the Super Bowls in December.

"As vocational schools, we're extremely worried about a massive decline of opportunities for our students," said Ryan Methia, athletic director at Greater New Bedford Regional Vocational and president of the MVADA. "That's the sole reason behind the expansion of our tournament, to give our students a tournament opportunity."

The plan was approved 14-0-1.

Howard Herman can be reached at  hherman@berkshireeagle.com or 413-496-6253. On Twitter: @howardherman


Howard Herman is a sports columnist at The Berkshire Eagle. The dean of full-time sportswriters in Western Mass., he has been with the Eagle since 1988, and is a member of the New England Baseball and Basketball Hall of Fame.