MIAA Tournament Management Committee tweaks hockey, football divisional structures

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There will be a new state playoff format in Massachusetts for the 2021-22 school year. In light of that, the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association's Tournament Management Committee approved new divisional structures for its football and hockey playoffs.

The TMC, however, did not approve new alignments for football and boys ice hockey. Instead, the TMC voted overwhelmingly, on both fronts, to form joint TMC/sport committees to determine exactly how the various divisions will be made up.

"Would it be in our best interest to put together a sub-committee, from combined TMC members and football committee members?" TMC chairman Jim O'Leary of St. John's Prep asked during the meeting.

It was, as the TMC voted 17-0 to form such a committee. There was a later vote, also of 17-0, to approve a similar TMC/boys hockey sub-committee to discuss the alignment of teams for the coming cycle.

"We don't want to dismiss the work that's being done in the trenches, so to speak, but we have to keep coming back to our mission," said Sandwich schools superintendent Pamela Gould, "which is to try to create a consistency and quality across the board. That's hard.

"We're trying to do what's right for all kids across the state, and that's where we've driven this from the very beginning."

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Girls hockey will have a two-division structure, which was approved. The alignment of teams was also approved.

The vote to approve eight divisions in football and four divisions in hockey passed easily. Both sports will continue to have the same number of divisions. The hockey Division III-A, which is where Berkshire County's three teams — Drury, Wahconah and Mount Everett — play, will be called Division IV when the new playoff structure begins in 2021-22.

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Under the proposed realignment, there would be an eight-week season leading into a 16-team playoff.

According to the proposed realignment, Pittsfield would be a Division V school, Taconic would be in Division VI, while Wahconah and Monument Mountain would be in Division VII. The remaining Berkshire County football playing schools, Drury, Lee, Hoosac Valley and McCann Tech would all be in Division VIII. As would Mount Greylock, which formed a co-op team with Drury last season.

"If we're getting 16 teams to qualify, what is the best percentage that gets us closest to what I think all of the other sports are getting" regarding tournament participation, Stoneham athletic director David Pignone said, "and that was the 50-percent mark. We're not quite at that 50-percent mark."

Actually, five of the eight divisions were slightly under 50 percent in playoff participation, one division was at 50 percent and two were above that mark.

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The vote was five in favor, 11 opposed and one abstention.

A similar situation occurred in boys hockey, with the TMC approving four divisions, but not approving the alignments.

"Originally, the sub-committee was leaning toward three divisions," Hockey Committee chairman and Arlington Catholic athletic director Dan Shine said, "[Oakmont High School principal] Dave Uminski and [Ludlow athletic director] Tim Brillo brought to our attention some of the issues with that level of play. That convinced the sub-committee to go to four. If this is approved, then in Division IV, which was III-A in Central and West, the entire state would be eligible to play in that tournament."

That vote failed six in favor, nine opposed and one abstention.

Howard Herman can be reached at hherman@berkshireeagle.com, at @howardherman on Twitter and 413-496-6253.


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