County Football League to Have Two Divisions in 2015
While high school athletes take to the great indoors to get ready for their spring seasons, Berkshire County high school athletic directors are already thinking about fall 2015.
And the high school football landscape will be significantly altered when teams hit the gridiron next year.
The ADs approved last week a schedule that divides eight county schools into two four-team divisions.
The yet unnamed divisions would be aligned thus: Hoosac Valley, Pittsfield, Taconic and Wahconah in one division. Drury, Lee, Monument Mountain and Mount Greylock in the other.
St. Joseph, which played in a coopeative with Drury last fall, is working on fielding its own team, which likely would be a junior varisty squad, Athletic Director Lori Cote said on Wednesday.
Under the plan approved by the ADs, each of the eight county varsity programs are required to play games against the other three schools in its division and then fill out its schedule with games against teams from the other division or opponents outside the league.
A tentative schedule drawn up by Hoosac Valley AD Michael Henault has defending Western Mass sectional champion Wahconah opening with its non-county rival Northampton and ending with defending sectional champ Pittsfield.
The county's other defending Western Mass champion, McCann Tech, plays in the Tri-County League.
Hoosac Valley and Wahconah would meet in Week 6. Hoosac Valley would finish with its rivalry game against Drury.
But the Hurricanes would not square off against Mount Greylock, leaving just two games involving North County foes: Drury against Mount Greylock and Hoosac in weeks seven and eight, respectively.
Both Drury and Mount Greylock have bye weeks in the tentative schedule, but they are in weeks five and eight, respectively.
Mount Greylock and Drury will each field its own team again in 2015, although there was talk this winter of the two forming a cooperative, Mount Greylock AD Lindsey von Holtz confirmed this week.
"The AD meeting on Feb. 13 is when the discussion started," von Holtz said. "Literally, [Drury AD] Chris Barbarotta and I were sitting next to each other and said, 'Maybe we should think about it.' "
The pair sought and gained the approval of their fellow ADs at the Feb. 13 meeting, and Von Holtz received the OK from Mount Greylock Principal Mary MacDonald. But Drury subsequently determined it had the numbers to sustain its own team.
"By [March 11], I had just learned it was a 'No,' " von Holtz said. "So it was a two- to three-week time frame that it was on the table. [Drury] did a count and realized they had 31 [players] without any returning eighth-graders moving up.
"Based on the co-op rules, you shouldn't do a co-op if you have enough players."
Von Holtz said the last time she checked the sign-up sheet, Mount Greylock had close to 25 kids signed up for the fall -- probably not enough to consider a junior varsity squad.
Von Holtz said there are advantages to cooperatives beyond the obvious cost-sharing.
"Obviously, it would be nice if Drury and Mount Greylock had a solid JV team," she said. "That's something we suffer from across the board. I'm just now trying to put together a JV lacrosse schedule, and half the schools don't have JV teams.
"I think the [cooperatives] develop good relationships between the schools. When you play football with someone all fall, you feel differently about them when you play against them in basketball season."
Von Holtz said that none of the discussions she has been involved with have raised the possibility of eight-man football, a format that Vermont experimented with in the last decade to help preserve the sport at some of its smaller schools.
"I have not heard it mentioned, though it may be because all we're talking about is getting to the [MIAA] state tournament," she said, alluding to the fact that the state association does not offer eight-man football as an alternative.
"I don't think that would go over very well."