New Football Alignment Spreads Out Berkshire County Teams
Do not look for many of those traditional Berkshire County rivalry games this fall thanks to the new league alignments and schedules announced by the Pioneer Valley Interscholastic Athletic Conference.
The PVIAC board approved its fall sports alignments in March, spreading the nine Berkshire County football schools among four of six Western Massachusetts leagues.
Wahconah and McCann Tech are the sole Berkshire County teams in their leagues -- the Suburban South and Tri-County, respectively.
Pittsfield, Taconic and Hoosac Valley combine to make up half of the six-team Suburban South.
Drury, Lee, Monument Mountain and Mount Greylock each belong to the seven-team Intercounty South.
In addition to one game against each opponent in a team’s league, it will play one “crossover” game against a team from a designated league with the matchups to be determined based on winning percentage over the last four years, according to the PVIAC.
For Wahconah, the 2017 league-mandated crossover opponent is Chicopee, who visits Dalton on Sept. 22, according to the PVIAC website. Wahconah will play an independent game against Taconic, its only currently scheduled county opponent, on Sept. 15.
Wahconah will then play five straight games against Suburban South opponents: at Putnam, home against East Longmeadow, at Northampton, home against Minnechaug and at West Springfield.
McCann Tech’s crossover game will come in week four at home against defending Western Mass champion Turners Falls. The Hornets, who last year played in a five-team league with Drury, Lee, Mount Greylock and Mohawk Trail, are largely back with their former Tri-County opponents of years past: Palmer, Pathfinder, Pioneer, Mohawk, Smith Vocational and Ware.
Hoosac Valley, which has a century-old rivalry against Drury and has played some of the most entertaining games of the season against Wahconah in recent years, plays neither in the regular season in 2017 … although the Hurricanes can schedule a Thanksgiving weekend game against the Blue Devils, as they did last fall.
Hoosac, on the other hand, will play league opponents Pittsfield and Taconic in the newly configured Suburban North, which will include Chicopee, Commerce and South Hadley.
Four of those six teams -- Pittsfield, Chicopee, Taconic, South Hadley -- are classified as Division 7 schools for MIAA playoff purposes. Commerce is classified in Division 5; Hoosac Valley is in Division 8.
The league-mandated crossover opponents are Westfield for Hoosac Valley, Holyoke for Pittsfield and Minnechaug for Taconic. But it appears that is not set in stone; Hoosac Valley coach Dayne Poirot said this week that the Hurricanes are not playing the Bombers and instead will play Mount Greylock, Northampton and Monument Mountain the first three weeks of the 2017 season.
The league with the strongest Berkshire County flavor is the Intercounty South, which counts Drury, Lee, Monument Mountain and Mount Greylock among its seven teams. Amherst, Belchertown and Ludlow are the other three.
The PVIAC-determined crossovers for the Berkshire County schools in the Intercounty South are: Drury vs. Smith Vocational, Mount Greylock vs. Mahar, Lee vs. Franklin Tech and Monument Mountain vs. Pathfinder.
Each school would play six games against its Intercounty South brethren.
State classification wise, the Intercounty South features three schools from Division 5 (Amherst, Belchertown and Ludlow), one from Division 7 (Monument) and three from Division 8 (Drury, Lee and Greylock).
Wahconah is also in Division 7, along with Suburban South foe Putnam. The rest of their league will play in higher divisions in the state tournament: East Longmeadow, Northampton and West Springfield in Division 5; Minnechaug in Division 3.
In the Tri-County, the outliers from a state classification perspective are Frontier and Palmer, which are in Division 7. McCann Tech, Ware, Pathfinder, Mohawk Trail and Smith Voc are all in Division 8.
McCann Tech gets a tall order in its league-mandated crossover, taking on traditional small-school power and 2016 sectional champion Turners Falls.