CHESHIRE >> Connecticut high school football is likely going back to three rounds of state playoffs and four state champions for the 2015 season, the CIAC announced Thursday after a monthly meeting of its football committee.
The 2015 playoff format will be a replica of the one used from 2010-2013 with several modifications designed to address safety concerns from the state’s medical society, which necessitated an overhaul of the 2014 playoffs in February and created eight state champions.
Included in those modifications: The elimination of full-contact practices after the ninth game and a strict adherence to 10 regular season games. This is a two-year proposed deal.
The proposal will now go to the CIAC’s Board of Control for a final vote. CIAC Associate Executive Director Steven Wysowski said he was optimistic it would be approved.
“This proposal drastically reduces the amount of contact high school football teams make throughout the course of the season,” Wysowski said. “You have to credit the (athletic directors) and coaches. They came together with a Herculean effort and really came forward with a good tweak of the playoff system.
“The message was limiting contact. We needed to find a way to do that and still go with a three-game postseason tournament scenario. I think we’ve done that.”
Under the new format, the time between playoff games will be spaced out. As in previous seasons, quarterfinals will be played the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. The state semifinals will begin the Tuesday after Thanksgiving.
The state semifinals, however, are being moved up from the following Saturday to either Sunday or Monday, which would give teams at most two extra days between the quarterfinal and semifinal rounds. The state championships will be played the Saturday afterward.
As part of the deal, the CIAC football committee agreed to reduce full-contact practices throughout the season. Teams will get a maximum 120 minute per week in the preseason and a maximum of 90 minutes per week during the season until Week 9. Teams will not be allowed full-contact practices during a bye week and after nine weeks, including the post season.
The reduction of full-contact practices was praised by Dr. Thomas Trojian of Asylum Hill Family Medicine Center and a member of the CIAC Board of Control who was present at Thursday’s meeting.
“This is an excellent step forward,” Trojian said. “The CIAC really worked hard to It is really putting an emphasis on spacing out the playoff games and, by making no live contact for teams that make the playoffs, you’re greatly reducing the amount of collisions.”
Trojian noted that the new contact regulations were less than a recent law passed in California, which he said limits high school teams to 180 minutes of full-contact practices a week.
CIAC will also monitor football injuries through national injury surveillance program endorsed by the National Federation of State High Schools while the new playoff format is in place.
The CIAC will require schools to report injuries into a database and will use that data to make adjustments in the future if necessary. Injury data will be reported by schools’ athletic trainers or qualified medical personnel.
“We’re think this is going to be good for the game,” football committee chairman Leroy Williams said. “Kids’ safety and concussions are national news. The biggest thing with this is that we’re going to get some data (on injuries). Having the data collected at every practice, at every game and importing that into a national database that we can use is really what we like about this. ”
The number of total regular season games will be reduced to 10, built in with a mandatory bye. That number also includes league championships, which haven’t been official games under current CIAC rules.
Only two leagues, the SWC and FCIAC, continue to hold league championships. If they want to continue to hold them, Wysowski said, “they might have to get a little bit creative. It’ll be up to them.”
Concerning his league’s playoff, New Canaan coach and committee member Lou Marinelli, said he had no idea how the FCIAC would handle the game limitation. “I know because of all the tradition, the FCIAC would like to keep the championship,” he said. “We’ll have to figure something out.”
But Marinelli, like many coaches, praised the return to four champions and three divisions.
“I thought the proposal they came up with, with the doctors’ input and the ADs and the coaches, I thought they did a great time in a time where football has gotten a very bad rap,” Marinelli said. “I think we pretty much got what we wanted: Four state champions and 10 games. I couldn’t have asked for anything more.”
Connecticut football playoff comparisons (2010-2016)