In lieu of 11 vs. 11 high school football, the Eastern Connecticut Conference on Monday announced a plan to keep its players involved in the 2020 fall high school season.
The conference announced will conduct a 7 vs. 7 passing competition and a skills competition for linemen — including tug-of-war, sled drives, tire flips and other drills — in a “football alternative” designed to bring players together for low-risk activities.
The scoring for the linemen competition will be by individual and by team. The winning team’s result will carry over to the skills portion of the contest, either by giving their teammates the ball to start or a 6-0 lead.
The ECC moved quickly to put a football substitute in place so that its players would have a school-sponsored football activity available to them this fall, especially with talk of private enterprises making the rounds across the state.
The ECC also announced a season-ending combine for juniors and seniors on Oct. 31. The league would be inviting college coaches to attend and scout potential recruits.
“We moved forward to create something we think will be fun and exciting,” said Jim Buonocore, the ECC football chairman and Ledyard assistant principal, in a statement released by the league.
“Most importantly, these activities allow our student-athletes to remain under the guidance of our league member schools football coaches, as well as continue to develop their skill set in the sport of football while also maintaining the numerous positive attributes one acquires in being part of a structured and organized high school athletic program.”
The linemen challenges are recommended to begin at 4:30 p.m. on game days followed by the 7-on-7 skills competition at approximately 6 p.m. Coaches would agree on the set of skills and challenges beforehand.
In addition to a quarterback/receiver passing game, the skills competition would also include kickoffs and point afters. No running plays will be allowed, however.
The competitions will be held Fridays or Saturdays beginning Sept. 25 and run for five weeks until Oct. 23. The ECC would hold competitions for both varsity and junior varsity teams. Players will be required to wear facial coverings per COVID-19 guidelines.
All of the regular ECC schools are involved. The league also invited both Thames River and Quinebaug Valley — which include ECC schools that are football members of the Connecticut Technical Conference — to participate. They have been scheduled, but have not yet confirmed their participation, Buonocore said.
Should all of the teams participate, some teams will play two competitions each week due to the unbalanced number of teams. Some of those games
“Every activity we offer this fall will ultimately lead to our football student-athletes to have the opportunity to get themselves on film and give them the opportunity to promote themselves to coaches at the next level,” Buonocore said in the statement.
ECC Alternate Football Competition Schedule
WEEK 1 (Sept. 25-26)
NFA at Fitch; East Lyme at Fitch; Montville at Waterford; Ledyard at Stonington; Bacon at Killingly; Bacon at Plainfield; Windham at Thames River; Griswold at Quinebaug Valley.
WEEK 2 (Oct. 2-3)
NFA at New London; East Lyme at Fitch; Stonington at Montville; Waterford at Ledyard; Plainfield at Griswold; Killingly at Griswold; Plainfield at Killingly; Bacon at Windham; Quinebaug at Thames River.
WEEK 3 (Oct. 9-10)
NFA at Waterford; NFA at Killingly; Fitch at Ledyard; Bacon at East Lyme; Stonington at New London; Plainfield at Montville; Thames River at Griswold; Windham at Quinebaug.
WEEK 4 (Oct. 16-17)
East Lyme at NFA; Fitch at New London; Montville at Ledyard; Bacon at Waterford; Plainfield at Stonington; Killingly at Quinebaug; Thames River at Windham; Griswold at Windham.
WEEK 5 (Oct. 23-24)
Ledyard at NFA; Fitch at Stonington; East Lyme at Waterford; New London at Killingly; Montville at Griswold; Windham at Plainfield; Thames River at Bacon; Quinebaug Valley at Bacon.
WEEK 6 (Oct. 30-31)
ECC Junior/Senior Combine at New London