Ex-New London coach Larson happy to bring CREC into ECC fold

The Capital Region Education Council cooperative football program is happy to finally have a league it can call home.

The CREC Colts, a co-op Civic Leadership (Enfield), Aerospace (Windsor) and Metro Learning (Bloomfield), has led a nomadic experience its first four seasons as an independent team. The Enfield-based team hit the road to play games in Farmington, Montville, and Springfield, Mass. this past season.

The Colts will join the Eastern Connecticut Conference next season as the league expanded to 15 football programs. Woodstock Academy, which didn’t play football in the ECC last season, will return.

“We went to them (the ECC),” said Jeff Larson, the principal at Civic Leadership. “We were looking for a league.”

Larson knows the ECC well. He coached the New London football team from 2009-11, which made the playoffs every season under his guidance, including playing for the 2010 CIAC Class M title.

Larson is in his fifth season as Civic Leadership’s principal.

“The ECC has such a history of great teams and great programs,” Larson said. “It’s just a good athletic conference. So to have the opportunity to go in and play against that kind of competition is good for us. I’m just happy that our team gets to go down and experience those opportunities.”

CREC will move into the ECC’s Division III with Griswold, Montville, Plainfield and Windham.

East Lyme, Fitch, Killingly, New London and NFA will be in Division I next season, while Bacon Academy, Ledyard, Stonington, Waterford and Woodstock make up Division II.

Ledyard athletic director Jim Buonocore, the ECC football chair, told The Day on Wednesday that teams in Division I and III will be guaranteed five games, and the Division II teams will be guaranteed six. All 15 schools also have the opportunity to participate in the state scheduling alliance with the Central Connecticut Conference, Fairfield Country Interscholastic Athletic Conference, Southern Connecticut Conference, and South-West Conference.

CREC played against all of its future Division III foes last season. It plays its games at Civic Leadership, a magnet school that draws students from 35 towns, and it had 51 players listed on its 2018 roster at the CIAC’s website.

“The ability to go and compete with the small schools that are in the ECC, the hope is to see the standards and rise to those standards,” Larson said.

The Colts are 10-30 over four seasons. They finished 1-9 this season in the second-year under former UConn standout Maurice Lloyd, a former New London assistant and behavior specialist at CREC.

“We’re developing, and it takes time to put a system in place and get it up and running,” Larson said. “(Lloyd) has a great mentality in developing good young men. … He’d been coaching at Bloomfield as a defensive coordinator. I’ve known Mo for a long time (they were UConn teammates).

“When he’s No. 11 (at UConn) and I’m No. 13 sitting two lockers down from him, I know who he is and how he can help your kids.”

n.griffen@theday.com

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