In a move to fill open dates and create equitable matchups for their football-playing members, the Southern Connecticut Conference, South-West Conference and five teams from the Eastern Connecticut Conference have agreed to a scheduling arrangement beginning in 2017.
The SCC’s 22-team football league — which recently added Harding and Bassick — and the 12 teams from the SWC have opened their schedules to play crossover games, mostly in Weeks 2 and 6, while interspersing the ECC Large Division teams NFA, Fitch, New London, East Lyme and Ledyard.
The crossover matchups are being determined by a variety of factors, SCC Commissioner Al Carbone confirmed. Those factors include a team’s CIAC enrollment, its record over five years, its average roster size and recent playoff appearances.
League commissioners Dave Johnson of the SWC, Gary Makowicki of the ECC and Carbone of the SCC met on Oct. 26 to hammer out the preliminary matchups, which were then taken to their respective schools.
Because the SCC has 22 schools and the SWC and ECC are bringing a combined 17 teams, the final matchups are still being worked out. The SCC will approve its schedule “sometime within the next few weeks,” Carbone said.
According to the first draft of the matchups, which sources provided to GameTimeCT, SWC teams will play two crossover games against the SCC and ECC. The SCC teams will either get one or two crossover games. The five ECC Large teams will fill the gaps.
While a majority of the crossover games will be played in Week 2 and 6, some of the leftover SCC teams will have to play each other those weeks, Carbone said.
It wasn’t clear how the SCC or SWC would adjust their already packed schedules to accommodate the crossover games.
According to Ledyard athletic director and former head coach Jim Buonocore, this is a welcomed plan for the ECC large schools, especially since the league has nearly broken up over scheduling issues over the last few seasons.
Currently, the smallest ECC schools aren’t required to schedule their largest neighbors, leaving the Large division teams with as many as four open dates to fill.
“It’s a really, really good situation for us because we were only walking away from our league with six games, now all of the sudden we’re real close to completing our schedules,” said Buonocore, whose Class S, ECC Large team has scheduled three crossover games vs. Creed/Career/Whitney Tech, Notre Dame-Fairfield and Bassick.
It also helps the SWC
“Think it’s good for all the leagues and really helps everybody out,” said Masuk coach Joe Lato, who said his team was tentatively matched up with SCC’s North Haven and West Haven, although he acknowledged it could change.
“When I was coach at Weston I would have loved to have had this. It gives a chance for a small school like that to play another school that’s more their size. It’s good for high school football.”
Some of the other preliminary matchups included Newtown, out of the SWC, facing Xavier and Shelton out of the SCC; Norwich Free Academy (ECC) vs. Xavier; Brookfield (SWC) vs. Foran and Guilford (SCC); East Lyme (ECC) vs. Stratford and Guilford (SCC); Bunnell (SWC) vs. East Haven and Hand.
Again, those are prospective matchups.
The hope among those involved is that more ECC teams will agree join the arrangement the 2018 season to create more crossover matchups. All of the commissioners were open to creating more open dates in the future to accommodate them.
The arrangement is a slight tip of the hat to a ‘district model’ proposal of reorganizing football teams into leagues by playoff class, which has been discussed across the state over the last five years.
“The great thing about this is it’s really what the District Model would look like at the state level, and I’m a big proponent of the district model,” Buonocore said. “Our commissioners worked hard on getting equitably crossovers from the teams of the other leagues. It’s a win-win all around. It’s great for our kids and great for high school football.”