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CIAC cancels football for fall, but will now consider spring season

The Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference's Board of Control canceled full contact (11 on 11) football for the fall Wednesday, but agreed to consider football in the spring, provided it doesn't negatively impact spring sports.

The Board of Control met a day ahead of its original Sept. 17 date, ultimately adhering to the recommendations of the state Department of Health and Gov. Ned Lamont.

"CIAC made every effort to weigh all factors in this decision, including the passionate voices of students, parents, and school personnel, and ultimately made the determination to align its decision with the recommendations of the Governor's office and DPH to not hold high-risk sports at this time," CIAC executive director Glenn Lungarini said both in a press release and then in a Zoom call with the media. "In conversation with other state associations across the country, it was clear that a key factor in playing interscholastic football was alignment with the opinion of their state's governor and state health agency."

Lungarini said the CIAC, in accordance with its football committee, will recommend "low and moderate-risk football activities in which schools may continue to engage their athletes."

Ledyard High School assistant principal/athletic director Jim Buonocore, the football chairperson of the Eastern Connecticut Conference, said Wednesday that league officials have discussed several scenarios that would include football on some level this fall.

"We've discussed plans that include not just skill players but linemen and specialists, too," Buonocore said. "Something in a modified way that would end with some kind of showcase/combine for the kids at the end. All of this is based on DPH guidelines."

Buonocore is grateful that CIAC officials are open to a spring plan.

"The door is open and that's huge," he said. "At least there's a chance for 11 on 11 at some point this school year. That's all we were looking for."

The CIAC football committee is expected to meet Thursday to discuss various options for the fall.

The Board of Control said it would consider spring football in 2021, mindful of COVID-related issues, other public health strategies and field viability, among other factors.

Meanwhile, traction is gaining for "pop up" leagues, or leagues that are not CIAC-sanctioned throughout the state. Lungarini said that student-athletes may play in such leagues and still retain their eligibility for the spring.

Former New London High School coach Jack Cochran has plans for a New Britain-based pop-up league. Cochran said Wednesday he has secured New Britain Stadium at Willow Brook Park for nine Saturdays and Sundays beginning Sept. 26.

"The interest has been high. People were waiting to see what the CIAC decided," Cochran said. "Whether we have one team or 50 teams, I don't know. The biggest issue is whether schools will allow kids and teams to use the equipment. The ideal scenario is that a school lets the kids play as a club and also lets them use their equipment."

Cochran, who is looking for financial donations, said he'll know more details in the coming days.

m.dimauro@theday.com

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