The longstanding MIAA football playoff system will remain intact.
A measure calling for eliminating the current league system and allowing 50 percent of the teams into the playoffs was voted down 190-114 by principals/ADs around the state.
The proposal, which was developed over the past 18 months, called for eliminating leagues for football and placing schools in 16-team divisions based on geography and male enrollment.
The proposal also included statewide Super Bowls at Gillette Stadium for all six divisions with teams from North, South, Central and West for the first time.
"I'm glad — I didn't want to see leagues dissolved for one thing," Central Catholic coach Chuck Adamopoulos said.
He said that the final three weeks would lose much of its intensity for non-playoff teams if a scheduling committee was pairing teams together that have no history of playing one another.
Playoff games would have been in weeks 8-10 and concluded the Saturday after Thanksgiving. The Thanksgiving rivalries would have remained in place.
The proposed system would have had 50 percent of the teams statewide make the playoffs. Last year in Eastern Mass. it was 16.1 percent (31 of 192).
But Adamopoulos said more teams making the playoffs would take away the prestige.
"I think it's a joke how many teams make the playoffs (in other sports)," he said. "They have 2-18 teams make it in basketball."
Some coaches wanted a new system, though.
"I'm disappointed, but it is what it is," said St. John's Prep AD and football coach Jim O'Leary, who is a member of the football subcommittee that came up with the proposal almost three years ago. "Frankly, I thought the vote was going to be a lot closer. This is a very passionate issue. ... It is frustrating people didn't see the broader picture."
Instead of the league schedules, a committee would have set up schedules for the first eight weeks, and teams eliminated in the first round of playoffs would have gone back in the pool to be assigned additional games.
O'Leary said: "I think the biggest opposition came because some people are not ready to break up the leagues. Another issue was not being able to control your own schedule. Teams in our league run into scheduling problems all the time."
Generations old rivalries would have been in jeopardy. The Cape Ann League will be celebrating its 50th anniversary of football this fall. The Merrimack Valley Conference was founded in the mid '60s.
O'Leary said: "This is a dead issue now, but I think if we had the vote a year ago it probably would have passed. The opposition mounted a good campaign against it since then. Right now it's a mess, and changes will have to be made because there is too much disparity now in divisions. They may have to get in line with every other sport and set up playoff pairings by enrollment."
The current Super Bowl format was adopted in 1972. Then there were two Eastern Mass. games and two Western/Central games. The number of postseason teams have swelled with 31 qualifying in EMass. last fall. In 2001, the system was changed to have a semifinal game and the winners playing in the Super Bowl.