The Lonesome Polecat: ECC & Alliance things
How art thou?
Hope you’re enjoying this little slice of the Ice Age we’re experiencing this weekend.
This is an eastern Connecticut-centric post so if you don’t care about what’s going on outside your conference or county, then feel free to tune out now. See if you can find that killer Kenny Omega-Will Ospreay match from New Japan’s Wrestle Kingdom 17 last month.
This here blog is a companion piece to a story written elsewhere on the site about the Eastern Connecticut Conference’s NEW two-division format and scheduling as well as its involvement in the 2023 Connecticut High School Football Alliance schedule.
In case you missed it, the ECC’s two divisions in 2023 are as follows:
DIVISION I: East Lyme, Fitch, Killingly, New London, Norwich Free Academy and Woodstock Academy.
DIVISION II: Bacon Academy, Griswold/Wheeler, Ledyard, Montville, Stonington, Waterford, Weaver and Windham.
Space limitations prevented TEAMDAY~! from publishing next season’s ECC schedule so, as a public service, we’re providing it here for YOU (division games noted with an asterisk):
Bethel at Bacon Academy
East Catholic at Griswold/Wheeler
Fitch at Thames River (for those of you unfamiliar with the region, Fitch won’t need a bus for this game because it’ll be played next door at Grasso Tech, home of the Crusaders.)
Lewis Mills at Montville
Masuk at Killingly (a rematch of last December’s madcap Class MM semifinal. Sweet.)
New Fairfield at Windham
New London at Stratford (a rematch of the 1989 CIAC Class SS final, which has no bearing on this game given that the current players weren’t born until around 17 years later.)
NFA at Stamford
Northwest United at East Lyme
Quinebaug Valley at Woodstock Academy
Sheehan at Ledyard
Stonington at Northwest Catholic
Waterford at Notre Dame-Fairfield
Weaver at Weston
*Bacon at Stonington
*Fitch at New London
Killingly at Notre Dame-West Haven in a swank matchup between the 2022 Class MM runner-up (Killingly) and Class M champion (ND).
Hamden at NFA
*Ledyard at Weaver
*Montville at Waterford
*Windham at Griswold/Wheeler
*Woodstock at East Lyme
Avon at East Lyme
*Bacon at Weaver
E.O. Smith at New London
Killingly at Windham
*Ledyard at Montville
New Britain at NFA
North Haven at Fitch. The defending Class MM champs bring GOD’S FATHER’S OFFENSE (single wing) to Groton.
*Stonington at Waterford
Woodstock at Griswold/Wheeler
East Lyme at Stonington
*Griswold/Wheeler at Bacon
*Ledyard at Windham
Montville at Woodstock
New London at Weaver
*NFA at Killingly
Waterford at Fitch
*Bacon at Windham
*Fitch at NFA
*Montville at Stonington
*New London at East Lyme
Thames River at Killingly
*Waterford at Ledyard
*Weaver at Griswold/Wheeler
Woodstock at Foran
*East Lyme at NFA
*Fitch at Killingly
*Griswold/Wheeler at Ledyard
*Montville at Bacon
*New London at Woodstock
*Waterford at Windham
*Weaver at Stonington
Bethel at Woodstock
*Griswold/Wheeler at Waterford
Hillhouse at Fitch
*Killingly at East Lyme
*Ledyard at Bacon
New London at Bassick
NFA at Harding
*Stonington at Windham
*Weaver at Montville
Bacon at NFA
East Lyme at Guilford
*Griswold/Wheeler at Stonington
Ledyard at Killingly
Plainfield at Montville
*Waterford at Weaver
Windham at New London
*Woodstock at Fitch
*Bacon at Waterford
*East Lyme at Fitch
*Montville at Griswold/Wheeler
*Killingly at New London
*NFA at Woodstock
*Stonington at Ledyard
*Windham at Weaver
East Lyme at Waterford
Fitch at Ledyard
Griswold/Wheeler at Plainfield
*NFA at New London
RHAM at Bacon
Stonington at Westerly
Weaver at Hartford Public
*Windham at Montville
*Woodstock at Killingly
Some few quick thoughts:
1. No one in the ECC should have a gripe about either their division placement or their schedule.
Everyone is where they belong.
The Division II teams only have to play one from Division I except for Ledyard, Waterford and Windham. Thanksgrabbing Day rivalries account for that second interdivision game for Ledyard (Fitch) and Waterford (East Lyme).
2. The majority of the Alliance games are wildly favorable for the ECC.
The ECC will play 25 non-conference opponents and FOURTEEN of them finished .500 or worse.
The ECC didn’t do well in Alliance games last season. There’s no reason it can’t do better this year.
3. The ECC team that received the hardest Alliance schedule? Killingly.
Killingly has had the most success of anyone in the ECC since 2015 both in-and-outside the conference. It’s played in four state finals the past six seasons, including Class M titles in 2017 and 2021.
To be the best, you have to beat the best, which is why Killingly opens with Masuk and Notre Dame. Killingly is still loaded given the number of underclassmen it started last year. Notre Dame, as previously mentioned, is a defending state champion.
More on Killingly: we’re compelled to point out that its boys’ enrollment for the 2022-23 school year is 344. That ranks 11th out of the ECC’s 14 football programs.
Yes, Killingly is a school of choice but it isn’t the only one in the ECC, nor is it the only one drawing students from outside its borders.
It’s certainly preferable to have a large enrollment because the larger the talent pool, the better.
School size isn’t everything, though.
4. HATS OFF to Thames River for seeking out two Alliance games and, boy howdy, did the Alliance ever give them to the Crusaders.
TRC took a lot of heat last season within the Connecticut Technical Conference because it maimed every conference team it played. The Crusaders had a stacked roster by CTC standards, which resulted in games where their top scorers were piling up three-or-four touchdowns on minimal touches.
A team doesn’t get better without being challenged, so credit Thames for trying to improve itself by scheduling Fitch and Killingly.
HATS OFF to Northwest United and the Bullard-Havens/Kolbe Cathedral co-ops, too, for also taking two Alliance games.
5. We’re certain there will be complaints about some of these road trips.
Okay, which would you perfer:
(A) A 20-to-30-minute bus ride to play a league opponent that is going to smoke you.
(B) An hour-plus bus ride outside your county to play a competitive opponent.
The smaller the state, the more its residents complain about driving distance, and that’s bonkers.
Connecticut is the third-smallest state in the nation. You can get anywhere in about two hours via a highway except for New Milford.
And pretty much all of Litchfield County ... but you get the point.
It always makes our eyes roll when a person acts as if driving from New London to Hartford (or New Haven to Stamford) is the equivalent of traversing the Oregon Trail when they’ll gleefully drive to Boston, New York City or East Rutherford, N.J. for a ballgame or concert.
All that written, who did Bethel tick off to get road trips to Bacon Academy (160 miles round trip) AND Woodstock Academy (204 miles round trip)?
Oh, well. It just means that the Wildcats get to enjoy more bonding time.
PRO TIP, Bethel — make it a point to stop off for a burger (or four) at Harry’s Place in Colchester after the Bacon game. It’ll be played on Saturday because Bacon doesn’t have lights, so it’s not like you’ll be rushing to get home before midnight.
The burgers are worth your time, too.
6. Would a few of you from the Naugatuck Valley League and Pequot Football Conference please join the Alliance.
You’re not going to get scheduled against a team that’s going to cut you into little pieces. You’re going to play someone of equal stature.
Moreover, if you have state championship aspirations, then it’s only going to benefit you to get out of your league (and comfort zone) and play at least one game against another contender. That’s what prepares you for states, not squishing another lesser team in your conference.
Okay, that’s enough rambling out of us.
Thanks for reading.