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ECC releases football schedule; state Department of Public Health recommends CIAC move season to spring

The Eastern Connecticut Conference released its football schedule for this fall on Thursday.

This is 2020, however, thus nothing is ever set in stone.

Connecticut's Department of Public Health sent a letter to the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference earlier in the day with its recommendations about the latter's plans for a fall sports.

Among the DPH's recommendations were to postpone to the spring, or cancel, sports identified by the National Federation of High Schools as "moderate risk" (volleyball) as well as "higher risk" sports (football).

The CIAC's Board of Control had voted to stay the course for its abbreviated fall sports season on Wednesday after listening to reports and recommendations from all of its fall sports committees.

The CIAC's football committee had previously voted to recommend its season be moved to the spring.

"From the start, we have been consistent that our plan is fluid," CIAC executive director Glenn Lungarini said Thursday night. "We take any information available to us. We review that with the appropriate people. So the information that we received from DPH is extremely detailed. We greatly appreciate the information that they provided us.

"We started that process (Thursday night) with an initial review with officers of our board and our sports medical advisors. The letter is extremely detailed and has a lot of information, so it takes a little bit longer to go through. We have distributed the letter to all members of the Board of Control."

The CIAC had announced its fall sports plans on July 31 which were, "developed in consultation with the Connecticut State Medical Society Sports Medicine Committee, state officials, medical professionals, athletic trainers, superintendents, principals, athletics directors and coaches", according to the document.

The DPH's letter said that Lungarini spoke with its staff on Sunday, Monday and Wednesday, the latter in which he requested a written recommendation from the department.

"We're in a constant state of evaluation," Lungarini said. "From the onset, way back in March when we started dealing with (the COVID-19 pandemic), we said the information that we have today could be different than the information we have tomorrow."

The CIAC's football guidelines allow teams to start practicing next Monday with one scrimmage on Friday, Sept. 18.

The season begins on Thursday, Sept. 24 and will run six weeks with the last day being Saturday, Oct. 24.

Football teams will play regionalized schedules. The ECC split its teams into North and South divisions.

Quinebaug Valley and Thames River, which both play in the Connecticut Technical Conference, will play an ECC schedule.

“We really did a good job working with everyone and putting together the schedule,” said ECC commissioner Gary Makowicki, adding that no schedules are perfect but in such uncertain times and for one season he expects them to work out just fine.

“Like anything, some (games) aren’t as good, but we’re expecting people to manage those games. If it’s not a good matchup, we’re counting on the ADs to tell their coaches, ‘We want the kids on field. We want them to have a good experience, and we need you to manage your game.’”

There are two notable things about the schedule. The first is that the traditional Thanksgiving games will be played Week 3 (Oct. 9-10) as part of "Rivalry Weekend" over Columbus Day weekend.

The most notable thing about the schedule is the rivalry that won't be played —Stonington vs. Westerly.

The CIAC is not allowing out-of-state games, so the nation's oldest Thanksgiving Day rivalry won't be played for the first time since 1921. Stonington and Westerly first played in 1911 and didn't play in 1920 and 1921. They’ve played every year on Thanksgiving since.

"(The players are) upset about it for sure because it's such a big deal," Stonington head coach A.J. Massengale said. "Many of them have brothers and dads and grandfathers who have been part of it.

"We kind of look at it like, 'what if we don't even get to play football?'. The Westerly game is such a big deal and you hate to lose that game, but the prospect of losing an entire season of games was even worse. These kids have all see a whole season evaporate in the spring, most of them play spring sports, so they know that's a very real thing."

The ECC voted unanimously to begin the season without fans, but technology will allow many to still watch the games.

Ledyard athletic director Jim Buonocore, a member of the ECC executive committee, believes there are at least 10 ECC schools who have purchased Pixellot camera systems through the National Federation of High School Network.

“We have one on our new turf field and one in our gym,” Buonocore said. “With no fans, all of our home games will be live-streamed, which parents, students and fans can purchase through the NFHS Network. If they buy a season or yearly subscription, they’re going to get all Ledyard home games, plus whatever games on the road at schools that also have the Pixellot system.”

n.griffen@theday.com

Day Sports Editor Chuck Banning contributed to this story.

 

2020 ECC FOOTBALL

DIVISIONS

ECC South: East Lyme, Fitch, Ledyard, Montville, New London, NFA, Stonington and Waterford.

ECC North: Bacon Academy, Griswold/Wheeler, Killingly, Plainfield, Quinebaug Valley, Thames River, Windham and Woodstock Academy.

SCHEDULES

(Dates, times TBA)

WEEK 1

Sept. 25-26

Bacon at Woodstock

Fitch at NFA

Griswold at Quinebaug

Ledyard at Stonington

New London at East Lyme

Plainfield at Killingly

Waterford at Montville

Windham at Thames River

WEEK 2

Oct. 2-3

East Lyme at NFA

Killingly at Bacon

Montville at Ledyard

New London at Fitch

Plainfield at Woodstock

Stonington at Waterford

Thames River at Griswold

Windham at Quinebaug

WEEK 3

Oct. 9-10

Bacon at Windham

East Lyme at Waterford

Fitch at Ledyard

Griswold at Plainfield

NFA at New London

Quinebaug at Thames

Stonington at Montville

Woodstock at Killingly

WEEK 4

Oct. 16-17

Fitch at Stonington

Griswold at Windham

Killingly at Quinebaug

Ledyard at New London

Montville at East Lyme

NFA at Waterford

Plainfield at Bacon

Woodstock at Thames

WEEK 5

Oct. 23-24

Killingly at Griswold

Ledyard at NFA

Montville at Fitch

Quinebaug at Woodstock

Stonington at East Lyme

Thames River at Bacon

Waterford at New London

Windham at Plainfield

WEEK 6

Oct. 30

Bacon at Griswold

East Lyme at Fitch

New London at Stonington

NFA at Killingly

Quinebaug at Plainfield

Thames at Montville

Waterford at Ledyard

Woodstock at Windham

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