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    Monday, March 04, 2024

    Potentially bold changes coming to Connecticut high school football

    Officials from the Connecticut High School Football Alliance, which includes most conferences throughout the state, have proposed potentially bold changes to the way games are scheduled next season.

    The proposal, details of which were featured in the most recent Connecticut Association of Athletic Directors (CAAD) minutes, includes a statewide scheduling model in which schools would play in their own playoff divisions (based on enrollment and other factors), not traditional conferences.

    “With the recent move to six playoff divisions for football, it is now clear that regular-season scheduling needs a centralized force to oversee it,” the proposal read. “With more opportunities to qualify for the playoffs and more data available, it is imperative that schools play competitive, like‐minded schedules that assure their student‐athletes get the best experience possible, and the best (and right) teams can earn qualification to the state playoffs.”

    Example: Stonington, a Class S team this season, would have filled its schedule playing other Class S schools throughout the state, not Waterford or East Lyme — two schools with geographic proximity, but higher enrollments.

    “It is much easier to compare rankings in a class and then set a schedule,” the proposal read. “Empirical data such as records, playoff appearances, but also squad size and starters/returning lettermen have become an important source of information as you compare teams. No longer would teams, because they play in a certain league, be forced to have to play non‐competitive games for the sake of filling out a league schedule.”

    The proposal is asking for feedback on questions such as an earlier start date of the regular season (and thus an earlier end date), the number of regular-season games to be played, how many traditional/geographic rivals to keep and whether to end the concept of Thanksgiving football.

    The alliance suggested eliminating Thanksgiving football and playing those traditional rivalry games on Columbus Day weekend, while moving the finals to Thanksgiving weekend.

    "We have been working on this for quite some time and now we felt this was the right time to get the proposal into the hands of the CIAC and the CIAC football committee,” said Ledyard High School assistant principal/athletic director Jim Buonocore, who works on behalf of the Eastern Connecticut Conference in the alliance with fellow league representatives Al Carbone (SCC), Dave Schultz (FCIAC), Mark Berkowitz (SWC) and Trish Witkin (CCC).

    “In regard to the ECC, the football alliance literally saved our league from disbanding seven years ago. League scheduling has become more difficult over the years due to the discrepancy in school size amongst league members. Many other leagues in our state can attest to the same issue. Our proposed model of scheduling not only solves that issue but many other issues that have evolved over the years in our state.”

    Carbone, the commissioner of the SCC, said, “This proposal addresses a variety of topics that will benefit high school football in this state. We also know with any type of change, there will be discussion about what's truly important in the eyes of the various stakeholders, whether it's the leagues, teams, coaches or student-athletes. And we appreciate the opportunity to work collaboratively to move it forward.”

    m.dimauro@theday.com

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