New Hampshire Football Report

FOOTNOTES: An Open Division?


Here’s another option the NHIAA Football Committee could consider when it discussses what changes will be made when Division I expands from 20 to 21 teams next season: An Open Division.

The Open Division would feature 10 teams, with each team playing nine-regular-season games. Four teams would qualify for the playoffs.

Any team in the state could opt to play in the Open Division, but it would be designed primarily for the strongest Division I programs. The Open Division champion would be the true state champion, and there would still be champions in Division I, Division II, Division III and Division IV.

If the Open Division attracts fewer than 10 teams, schools with the largest enrollment could complete the 10-team field. This would give the smaller/less successful Division I schools (Alvirne, Keene, Windham, Memorial, etc.) more competitive games and a realistic chance to compete for a Division I championship.

Teams would have the opportunity to play in the Open Division every two years — there would be a two-year committment — so a program that graduates a particularly strong class could move back to Division I after competing in the Open Division for two seasons.

This season the Open Division could have included the following teams: Londonderry, Pinkerton Academy, Salem, Bishop Guertin, Exeter, Winnacunnet, Goffstown, Bedford, Nashua North and Nashua South.

That would leave left Keene, Merrimack, Alvirne, Windham, Concord, Central, Memorial, Portsmouth/Oyster River, Dover, Spaulding and Timberlane in Division I. Flip flop a couple teams if you prefer.

Timberlane, which competed in Division II in each of the past two seasons, is moving back to Division I, giving that division 21 teams. Thus the need for some sort of change.

The Open Division championship game and the Division I championship game could be played at the same location on the same day (if desired). There are drawbacks for sure, but this may be something worth considering.

The NHIAA Football Committee is scheduled to meet Thursday.


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