Woodstock Academy to leave ECC in football

Woodstock — Woodstock Academy, looking for a new direction for its football program, applied to and was accepted Thursday by the Evergreen Football League, which is comprised of prep school programs. Woodstock was scheduled to play next fall in the newly aligned Division III of the Eastern Connecticut Conference.

Woodstock will drop its affiliation with the ECC and the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference in football only, what Woodstock athletic director Aaron Patterson called "a monumental move."

“As an institution, we strive to put our student-athletes in a position to be successful on and off the field. There are examples of this throughout the athletic program. Whether it’s a local student or a student from another country, we want to place them in the best possible position for success,” headmaster Chris Sandford said. “Football, like our girls' hockey program and the prep basketball teams, will play in a league that matches the talent and athletic ability of our student-athletes.”

Woodstock Academy has struggled to compete in the ECC in football. It became an independent program in the 2016 season, playing a limited number of games in the last two seasons versus ECC teams.

Since becoming a varsity program in 2006, the Centaurs are 22-100 and have never had a .500 season. This fall, Woodstock played four ECC teams, Montville, Griswold, Plainfield and Killingly, and lost by a combined 189-31. It last won a league game on Sept. 27, 2014, against the St. Bernard-Norwich Tech cooperative.

In the Evergreen Football League, which expanded to 18 teams Thursday, programs are allowed to dress up to three post-graduate players and also have fifth-year seniors. Instead of a 10-game schedule, Woodstock will now play an eight-game schedule.

Woodstock Academy will play in a division along with the other newly accepted schools: Berkshire School (Sheffield, Mass.); Wilbraham & Monson Academy (Wilbraham, Mass.); Albany Academy (Albany, N.Y.); Canterbury School (New Milford) and Kingswood-Oxford School (West Hartford). The Centaurs will also play three crossover games against teams from the other two divisions.

Woodstock Academy signed a four-year contract earlier this year to play Killingly on Thanksgiving Day. Patterson and coach Sean Saucier indicated they would be willing to honor that contract if Killingly so desires. The game, however, will not count toward CIAC playoff points for Killingly.

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