Oct. 27—As the manhunt for Robert Card continued into Friday afternoon, the Maine Principals' Association released an updated schedule for the fall sports playoffs, with the recommendation that no games are played until Monday.
MPA Executive Director Mike Burnham said the MPA decided it was important for schools to connect with their students and check on them mentally and socially before resuming playoffs.
"We've never been through this," Burnham said. "We've not had one school say to us we should be playing this weekend."
Among the schedule changes:
— Field hockey regional championships were pushed back one day to Thursday, Nov. 2, with state finals still scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 4. Regional semifinals will be played Monday through Wednesday.
— Regional and state soccer championships are now scheduled for a week later than originally planned. The Class A, Class D, and eight-person regional finals are now Tuesday, Nov. 7, and the regional finals in Class B and Class C were moved to Nov. 8. State finals will be played Saturday, Nov. 11.
— Football games scheduled for this weekend will be played either Monday or Tuesday, with the next round of playoffs beginning Saturday, Nov. 4.
State championships for volleyball and cross country were rescheduled on Thursday. The Class C volleyball final between Calais and Narraguagus is set for Monday at Ellsworth High School. On Tuesday, the Class A volleyball final between Scarborough and Gorham will be at the University of Southern Maine, while the Class B final between Yarmouth and Washington Academy will be at Cony High in Augusta. The cross country state championships will be Nov. 4 at Troy Howard Middle School in Belfast.
Regional semifinals in soccer and field hockey originally scheduled for this weekend will be played next week, and a Class A North boys' quarterfinal between Mt. Ararat and Edward Little still needs to be completed. That game was halted Wednesday before the start of overtime as news of the deadly attacks in Lewiston broke.
Burnham said the MPA normally does not get involved in playoff scheduling until the regional finals and state championships, leaving early round scheduling to the schools involved.
"With what we're dealing with in our state, we felt it was important to take the lead," Burnham said.
Coaches agreed that holding off on tournament play until next week is the right decision.
"We haven't seen the kids (since Wednesday) and don't know where they are emotionally," said Andy Higgins, whose Yarmouth girls' soccer team is the top seed in Class B South and the defending state champion. "We'll be here for them, whatever they need. That's what's important."
Marcia Wood, Freeport's field hockey coach, said she's communicated with her team via group text messages. She has players who live close to Lisbon, where much of the manhunt has been focused, and they're nervous. The Falcons are set to resume the playoffs with a regional semifinal Tuesday against Lake Region. First, they'll get together Monday for a practice and to talk, Wood said.
"I don't think any of us were ready to play this weekend," Wood said.
Athletic directors in the Southwestern Maine Activities Association, a conference of 17 schools in Cumberland and York counties that compete in Class A and B, met Friday via Zoom. The league agreed to postpone all events until Tuesday. Eric Curtis, the athletic director at Bonny Eagle and SMAA president, said athletic directors around the conference who sit on various MPA fall sports committees let the other members know a decision was coming from the MPA sometime Friday.
That information came from the MPA about three-quarters of the way through the SMAA meeting, said Thornton Academy Athletic Director Gary Stevens.
"To try to put anything athletic on while people are struggling, grieving and locked down wasn't the right thing to do," Stevens said.
SMAA schools in the Class B football playoffs now expect to play regional quarterfinals on Tuesday, and Class A football teams plan to conclude their regular seasons on the same day. SMAA athletic directors agreed to push back the next round of playoff games until Monday, Nov. 6, to give teams ample time to rest and prepare. Regional championships would be played Saturday, Nov. 11. Stevens said the league planned to reach out to Oxford Hills and Bangor, members of the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference who hold playoff positions in Class A North.
Late Friday afternoon, Oxford Hills Coach Mark Soehren said this was the first he'd heard of the plan. Soehren said the Vikings' regular-season finale against Bangor was rescheduled to Monday before the MPA's recommendation was released. While Oxford Hills would likely have agreed to the plan, Soehren said it would have been better to be included in the discussion.
"It seems we don't have much of a choice if that's what the southern teams decided without our input," Soehren said in a text message.
Noble football coach Keenon Blindow said he planned to have a meeting via Zoom with his team either Friday night or Saturday. As of late Friday afternoon, Blindow did not have confirmation his team's regular-season finale against Sanford had been rescheduled for Tuesday, but he said his team will be eager to play whenever it's allowed.
"As long as we get to play, we're happy," Blindow said.
Richmond boys' soccer coach Peter Gardner expressed concern that the hunt for Card could drag on into next week, leaving tournament plans in limbo.
"I just hope we can finish the playoffs. We've pushed everything into next week, but what happens if they don't find this guy? Will (the MPA) keep pushing it back?" Gardner said. "The other thing is, nobody has practiced, at least not around here. I think the big thing is, what are the kids doing and what are they losing in the layoff? You hope they are doing something. You want to say to them, 'maybe you should go out for a run,' but you want them to be safe, so can you even do that?"
Central Maine Newspapers sports editor Bill Stewart contributed to this report.