Prior to the expansion of the playoff system in the state of Massachusetts, the MIAA used to host multiple postseason tournaments with only four teams per bracket. This would largely result in an unbalanced postseason where some of the best teams never played each other while the number of state champions would be substantially larger.
The season would end on Thanksgiving, and the league champions would go to the playoffs, play a Tuesday game for the state semifinal before playing on the following Saturday in the "Super Bowl." Depending on which division the teams played in, the Super Bowls were split between Gillette Stadium, home of the New England Patriots, and NCAA Division II's Bentley University.
That all changed a few years back when the MIAA (the governing body of Massachusetts high school sports) changed its format to shorten the number of state champions while creating a more comprehensive playoff format. Like other sports, playoff brackets were divided by region and schools were divided up by size of enrollment as opposed to league affiliation (for example, the Catholic Conference now had St. John's Prep and Xaverian in Division I while Malden Catholic was in Division II).
They instituted a point system with a coefficient where teams earned points based on several mitigating factors, starting with wins in their own division. They also made it required that teams, depending on where they're from, would not be eligible for the postseason if they played less than six or more than seven regular season games. Based on the power points, they would then either make the playoffs based on finish in their league or how well they did (and how well their opponents did). Teams that didn't make the playoffs would be seeded against each other based off of these rankings as well to ensure all high school student-athletes play the same amount of games.
Five weeks into the high school season, we're now reaching the point where teams are running low on time to make the case for their postseason hopes. While some teams are all but locks to make the postseason, we're coming up on crunch time for others in the Massachusetts high school schedule.
-Despite its hope that it would crown true champions, Massachusetts will still struggle with that aspect this season. The state's #1-ranked team in ESPN Boston (Marshfield) is in a different division than its second and third ranked teams, who are in the same league and will play each other a couple of times this year (Xaverian and St. John's Prep). Xaverian will likely seed out in the Division I South playoff, while St. John's Prep will play in Division I North. They could potentially meet in the Super Bowl, while Marshfield will play in Division II South. That means the #1-ranked team can win its state title without ever having to beat anyone close to them.
-Speaking of those teams, there's some unrecruited athletes who are making waves on the high school gridiron, including two QBs. Jack Masterson threw for 248 yards and two TD's last week against Falmouth, accounting for a third TD with 49 yards rushing. He's on the Watch List for Mr. Football (ESPN Boston), but he is currently uncommitted to any college program.
-Likewise, both Coby Tippett and Oliver Eberth from Xaverian and SJP, respectively, remain uncommitted. Tippett is the 21st best recruit out of Massachusetts, and while that may mean he's not going to go to an FBS school, he remains a target for interested schools. At 5'8", he's a little undersized, but the son of NFL Hall of Fame linebacker Andre Tippett, he has definite pedigree. He's probably one of the fastest recruits coming out of Massachusetts. Xaverian takes on Malden Catholic this week, a match that looks on paper like a little bit of a disparity, but my Lancers have been a thorn in everyone's side, pushing the Prep to the limit last week.
-As for Eberth, he threw for 106 yards in a victory over Catholic Memorial last week and at 6'2" is a pro-style QB running a pro-style offense. When we spoke with Brian St. Pierre a couple of weeks ago, he talked about how the Prep runs a hybrid style offense. Eberth's been a revelation this season in calling the signals for the Eagles. They take on BC High this week.
-One of the names you should know is Peabody running back Doug Santos. Santos amassed 145 yards a 27-0 win over Lynn Classical. A name on most Massachusetts recruiting lists, Santos remains uncommitted despite this being his fifth straight 100-yard rushing game. He is higher on the ESPN recruiting lists than Tippett.
-The highest remaining uncommitted Massachusetts recruit is Malden safety/wide receiver DJ Exilhomme. Exilhomme received a bevy of FCS offers and a sprinkling of FBS offers, but he remains uncommitted.
-As for Malden, this could finally be the year when Everett's reign of terror comes to a close in the Greater Boston League. Everett's clinched 20 straight GBL titles, but after a couple of losses finds themselves more susceptible this season than ever before. The Golden Tornadoes will play Everett next week after a home game tonight with Catholic Memorial. But since the GBL lost another team this offseason and dropped to four teams, they're only assured of one playoff spot. Everett and Malden are currently 5-6 in the power ratings standings, meaning whoever loses that game could conceivably wind up out of the playoffs or wind up relying on help to get in - or get a road trip to St. John's Prep for the first round.
-Off the Division I path, there's a lot of solid football being played throughout the Commonwealth. Joe Grav's Revere Patriots are staring down the possibility of their first playoff berth since the dinosaurs roamed the planet. In Division 3 Northeast, they're one of six teams standing at 4-1, with their only loss coming to fellow one-loss Gloucester. A win this week will separate them from the seventh seed almost entirely, and it would bump Salem down a couple of notches from the #8 seed. That would all but wrap up Revere into a playoff berth. Imagine that - a world where Revere is a playoff team and Everett isn't?!
-In the world of Boston City League teams, Dorchester and Madison Park are rolling, both undefeated at 5-0. Kudos to them for pulling it off since Boston City teams historically are pretty bad. Dorchester is averaging less than a touchdown against its defense, similar stats to Madison Park. So many Boston high schools coop their football teams, so it's great to see the sport thriving in the inner city.
-One place that's definitely not the inner city is Dighton-Rehoboth. Two towns nestled in Massachusetts' south coast, in between Fall River and Providence, Rhode Island, they have a small high school in the backwoods of an area nobody ever really travels through unless they're going from Rhode Island to the Cape. But D-R, under the direction of 35-year head coach Dave Driscoll, are undefeated at 5-0. They picked up a win earlier this year over Lincoln-Sudbury, a team a full two divisions over them. They're currently the top power rated team in Division 3 Southeast, and it's not eve close. They're outscoring teams on average by a 29-7 margin.
-One last note goes to Northbridge High School in Central Massachusetts' SWCL. Northbridge is 5-0 this season, averaging 43.2 points per game. But the defense is averaging 0.0 points per game. That's right; they're approaching their sixth game of the year and haven't allowed a single point. I don't think this has happened since the 1970s, so it's something worth keeping an eye on as the season winds down.