STAMFORD — It is a new world for the King School football team this season.
The Vikings have moved to the Evergreen Football League, which consists of 16 private school teams from across New England.
King joins Hamden Hall and St. Luke’s as former Fairchester Athletic Association (FAA) squads moving to play in the Evergreen Football League.
“The coaches were in the King gym the other day looking at the FAA and NEPSAC football banners,” said King’s veteran coach Dan Gouin. “Now we’ll see some new opponents. It’s exciting on both sides to lineup against new people.”
The goal at the end of the season remains the same as all Evergreen League teams will be eligible to receive invitations to the New England Prep School Athletic Council (NEPSAC) championship games.
The Evergreen League has some innovative concepts.
Football is divided into four tiers or divisions.
Membership isn each tier is based mainly on the strength of returning players at each school. The league meets with all football coaches in the process. The league also mandates 22 preseason practices for each squad.
For the 2019 season, Evergreen League’s Tier A consists of Hamden Hall, St. Paul’s School (Concord, NH), Berkshire (Mass.) School and New Hampton (NH).
King is in Tier B along with Dexter Southfield (Brookline, Mass.), Kingswood-Oxford (West Hartford, CT) and Pingree (Mass.)
In Tier C are St. Luke’s, Canterbury (New Milford), Portsmouth (RI) Abbey and Proctor Academy (Andover, NH). Tier D schools are Albany (NY) Academy, Cushing Academy (Mass.), Tilton School (NH) and Wilbraham (Mass.) & Monson.
The Evergreen League football schedule consists of contests against the three schools in your tier along with five games against schools in the other tiers.
That means King is able to continue its yearly rivalry against St. Luke’s of New Canaan.
However, King will host St. Luke’s to open the season on Sept. 14. Traditionally, the Vikings and the Storm have closed out the regular season.
“We want to keep the series going with St. Luke’s,” King’s Gouin said. “Having it as the first game of the year brings an urgency to it that I like (that).”
King will also resume its rivalry with Kingswood-Oxford, which joined the Evergreen League for the 2018 season. Kingswood-Oxford has a new head coach (JB Wells) for 2019.
With the host of new opponents, the King football staff has been watching and breaking down much more film than usual in the offseason.
King will have new offensive and defensive coordinators this season. Steve Sheehan will run the offense. John Armstrong and returning assistant Tucker Gouin will direct the defense.
“Steve Sheehan spent five years at Hyde School (Bath, Maine),” Gouin said. “So he has information and familiarity with a number of the schools.”
All in all, the Evergreen League should prove to be the right place long term for the King football program. The Vikings (4-4 in 2018) expect to field a roster of around 35 players this season.
“The travel will be different but we should adjust,” Gouin said. “Evergreen is a league of football programs with the same values. The league may expand to 20 in the coming seasons.”