The state’s Class B high school football ranks will have a different look this fall — and it also will have a different locale for its state championship game.
The football committee of the Maine Principals’ Association formalized a plan recently that will involve the playing of state championship football games for Classes A, C and D at Fitzpatrick Stadium in Portland on Saturday, Nov. 23, after the Class B final on Friday evening, Nov. 22, at Alfond Stadium on the campus of the University of Maine in Orono.
This year’s Class B matchup will be the first state championship football game played at the University of Maine since South Portland defeated Oxford Hills of South Paris 24-10 in the 1999 Class A final.
The plan was necessitated this spring when the Maine Principals’ Association’s general membership approved the expansion of high school football in the state from three to four classes for the first time since the 1986 season.
Fitzpatrick Stadium has hosted three state championship games on the same day for more than a decade, but the addition of a fourth state final prompted discussion of several options, including the approach that first became public in June and was given committee approval during the panel’s pre-season meeting.
“Both facilities were interested and we talked about having two and two or all four [at one place],” said Todd Livingston, Maine Principals’ Association football committee chairman and athletic administrator at South Portland High School. “At least for this year, the one and three works, and just determining that rotation is the next step provided everything goes as it should.”
The Class A state final likely will remain in Portland every year given the geographic status of the teams in that division. Bangor is the only school north of Lewiston-Auburn in the reconfigured Class A, with nearly all of the other 15 schools in the division located within an hour or less of Fitzpatrick Stadium.
The state finals for Classes B, C and D are then expected to be put on a three-year rotation, with one of those games held in Orono each year provided there are no conflicts with University of Maine sports.
The expansion from three to four classes has resulted in significant changes in all classes for next season, including Class B.
Eastern Maine Class B teams this fall are Brunswick, Skowhegan, Messalonskee of Oakland, Cony of Augusta, Hampden Academy, Mt. Blue of Farmington, Lawrence of Fairfield, Brewer and Gardiner.
Western B teams hoping to earn the trip north this year are Gorham, Mount Ararat of Topsham, Falmouth, Marshwood of South Berwick, Kennebunk, Greely of Cumberland Center, Westbrook, Oceanside of Rockland-Thomaston, Fryeburg Academy, Morse of Bath and York.
Preseason football practices around the state began Monday, with season openers in all classes set to begin Friday, Sept. 6.
Falmouth and Greely’s football teams have their sights set on playing in the Class B state title this fall, a game which will be contested in Orono.