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CIAC adjusts schedule to include traditional football in March and April

The CIAC Board of Control voted Tuesday morning to adjust dates and establish an alternative season for traditional football in 2021.

The decision, after reviewing the latest guidance by the State Department of Health, will alter dates for the upcoming high school and winter and spring seasons — while providing a time period for football and other fall or winter sports "that do not complete at least 40 percent of games during their regularly scheduled season."

The CIAC said the new winter and spring seasons will "accommodate the alternative season with minimal impact to winter and spring sports."

The CIAC football committee voted and approved an alternative season for football in August. The Board of Control denied the proposal at the time.

“We finally doing the smart thing here,” Waterford coach John Strecker said. “The thing the football committee recommended almost three months ago. There are about 30 states playing football now. So by Feb. 22 we are going to know whether football affects the spread of COVID significantly. In which case no sane person is going to want to play. Or if it makes no discernible difference, we might as well let the kids do the thing they love.”

CIAC officials said they will continue to follow the latest COVID-19 metrics and information, saying Tuesday's announcement is subject to change.

The potential alternative winter season will begin with conditioning (Nov. 23-Dec. 5) followed by a season that runs from Dec. 7-Feb. 5 with the state tournaments running from Feb. 8-21.

The alternative season for football will begin with conditioning (Feb. 22-26) with full pads starting Feb. 27, scrimmage dates on March 6 and March 12 or 13, and a six-game schedule from March 19-April 17.

The spring season will begin with conditioning from April 11-22 (for athletes not playing a sport in the alternative winter season) with the regular season running from April 23-June 8 and the state tournament set for June 14-27.

The upcoming fall season officially begins on Thursday for all sports but football, but the CIAC said it has "waived the out-of-season rule for football coaches on a limited basis."

“It sounds like they embraced the ECC model which is a credit to our league and the ADs that worked on it,” Stonington coach A.J. Massengale said. “I feel like this is the direction our neighboring states are heading as well so there is a sense, or strength, in having a common approach. I think having a six-game schedule will get folks fired up as well.”

Football coaches will be allowed to work with their student-athletes through Nov. 21 to conduct "low to moderate risk school-sponsored football activities. This may include any low to moderate risk football activities as provided by the member school or member school league."

The Eastern Connecticut Conference began a reduced schedule last week that includes 7 vs. 7 offensive play and skill challenges for linemen.

“I was thrilled to see the announcement from CIAC,” Fitch coach Mike Ellis said. “We are excited the CIAC is giving us the opportunity to have a 11 vs 11 season in March/April. We understand that it is not guaranteed but the fact that we have a chance is meaningful to the players and coaches.”

m.dimauro@theday.com

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