CIAC splits up football playoffs

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Woodland's Joe Poeta makes the catch as Ansonia's Tyler Bailey gives chase during the Class S championship game Dec. 13 at Central Connecticut State University in New Britain. The CIAC football committee has approved a new playoff format for the 2014 season.–RA ARCHIVE
Woodland’s Joe Poeta makes the catch as Ansonia’s Tyler Bailey gives chase during the Class S championship game Dec. 13 at Central Connecticut State University in New Britain. The CIAC football committee has approved a new playoff format for the 2014 season.–RA ARCHIVE

CHESHIRE — The CIAC football committee announced Tuesday the rest of its 2014 playoff restructuring format: There will be four divisions broken into eight tournaments resulting in eight state champions.

Last month, the committee announced a reduction in playoff rounds from three to two while maintaining 32 playoff qualifiers. It also announced that the regular season and Thanksgiving would not be affected by the changes, leaving questions as to how exactly the new system would be broken up.

In 2014, the four classes — LL, L, M and S — will each still have eight qualifiers determined by the existing point system. Once the eight teams in each division are determined, they will be broken into two groups of four by enrollment. Each subgroup will then be reseeded based on the point system and play two rounds of playoffs.

The semifinals will be Dec. 6 and the finals will be Dec. 13. The quarterfinal round played the last four years on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving will be eliminated.

“All these decisions that have been made have a lot to do with the health and safety of our young people,” CIAC football committee Chairman Leroy Williams said. “We feel very comfortable that we’re coming in line with the medical community. We recognized that playing that (quarterfinal) the Tuesday after Thanksgiving was too much.”

Having eight champions is a contentious issue among the Connecticut high school football community. Some think the state is too small to warrant eight champs and would sacrifice the tradition of Thanksgiving football to have fewer champions, while others are OK with the new format because Thanksgiving will be unchanged.

“We do not feel as though it’s watered down at this point in time,” Williams said. “We didn’t want to eliminate quality teams. Teams that have one or two losses should be in the state playoffs.”

Williams said the committee considered playing a quarterfinal before Thanksgiving, stopping the playoffs to have the Thanksgiving games, and resuming the playoffs after Thanksgiving. It also considered changing the current point system, but decided against both changes.

“I don’t think eight (champions) is too much,” Williams said. “We had some games that were mismatched in the quarterfinals, but I think we can handle eight champions. We have more schools picking it up and youth football is bigger than ever. The state of football in the state of Connecticut is very good. The quality of the game is going to continue to grow.”