PORTLAND, Maine — Cheverus High School is moving from an 11-man to eight-man football team next season.
"This decision was made after a great deal of thought and discussion with the coaches about what kind of program Cheverus wants to have in the coming years. We have a rich tradition of football at Cheverus and our program will be deeper, stronger, and safer," Athletic Director Amy Ashley said.
In 2018-2019, the National Federation of State High School Associations reported a drop in high school sports participation for the first time in 30 years.
The same year, participation in 11-player football fell to its lowest level since 1999-2000. At the same time, participation in eight-player football is increasing. The 2019 season was the first eight-man season for the Maine Principals’ Association, and 10 teams participated.
This year, while the deadline is not until the end of February, the MPA projects 24 teams will play eight-man football this fall, or over one-third of the state’s football programs.
According to Coach Vance, “We have been talking about this for a while. This season, with just a varsity team, we hit a tipping point. We are graduating 12 seniors this year. Now we can be far more intentional about our player development. Next season we will be able to have a JV schedule, giving our younger players the chance to play at the right level. These kids love football. Moving to eight-man allows us to support the game we all love.”
"We are nimble and responsive to the changing face of football in Maine," Dan Costigan, Dean of Students, former Cheverus High School and University of Maine football player said. "This move makes the play safer and it also creates opportunities for our players to develop their game, compete at the highest level, and have fun.”