Without a doubt, the greatest misfire of the ballyhooed addition of the FCIAC to the Connecticut Football Scheduling Alliance was the failure to get the 2018 Class LL and Class L teams together on a Friday night, somewhere, somehow in 2019.
Hand, which has won back-to-back Class L championships and finished No. 2 in last year’s final top 10, and Greenwich, last year’s Class LL champion and the reigning No. 1 team, really should be playing. If there was one game we had to get out of this alliance, that was it.
Sadly, it didn’t work out.
Never fear, football denizens. By December, we may have forgotten all about that lost mega-matchup anyway.
That’s because the 2019 CIAC football playoff divisions have been released, and your biggest takeaway: It doesn’t look like Hand’s road to a third-straight Class L will be so rosy.
Drew Pyne and New Canaan, last year’s Class LL runners up, have been dropped back to Class L after a year away.
And — and — perennial state champion St. Joseph, which comes in having won back-to-back titles in Class S (2017) and Class M (2018), will be competing in Class L, too. As will their Class M championship opponents, Berlin.
Add those developments in with John Marinelli’s sudden departure as Greenwich’s head coach — creating some uncertainty, if not a power vacuum in Class LL — and, suddenly, the Class L playoffs are looking boss in 2019.
Whew. And we were getting a little worried around here.
This is the second year of the implementation of the tournament success modifier, which states that CIAC-designated schools of choice — schools that can draw from beyond their district borders either because they have an academic program that allows it or they’re a private school — will be moved up one playoff class from their designated enrollment if they’ve reached the semifinals the previous two years.
So, in this case, St. Joseph’s 390 male enrollment places it in M, up from S the last two seasons. But since the Hogs have won consecutive state championships, they’ve been bumped up one class, from M to L.
Same goes for Killingly, which is designated as a school of choice for its vo-ag program. The Redmen won the Class M title two years ago and reached last year’s M semifinals. Therefore, Killingly, a Class S school by enrollment, is once again bumped up to Class M.
Berlin, a choice school which has reached the Class M semifinals the past two years, has also been bumped up to Class L.
Those aren’t the only three programs affected by the success modifier for 2019.
Other intriguing moves include:
Class L semifinalist Platt and RHAM both dropping down to Class M; Hillhouse moving back up to Class L from M; Sheehan, Ledyard and Coginchaug/Hale Ray/East Hampton moving down from Class M to Class S and Valley Regional/Old Lyme moving back up to M. Naugatuck is one of three teams moving up to Class LL.
The CIAC has also approved several new co-op programs for 2019, including Granby Memorial/Canton, Griswold/Wheeler and Trinity Catholic/Wright Tech.
Aug. 19: first day of conditioning for teams that did not conduct spring practice. Aug. 24: First day of pads. Aug. 28: First allowable scrimmage.
Aug. 23: first day of conditioning of spring practice teams. Aug. 29: First day of pads. Sept. 2: First allowable scrimmage.
Sept. 12: First games / Last day to add official games (3 p.m.)
Nov. 28: Last day to count.
Dec. 3 — State quarterfinals; Dec. 8 state semifinals; Dec. 14 state championship games at TBA.
The teams and their 2019 playoff classes are listed below, with changes from last year’s playoff classes noted.
2019 CIAC Football Playoff Classes
Promotions indicated in blue; Demotions indicated in red.
* denotes school-of-choice success promotion.
Enrollment figures via CIAC.
Enrollments: 693 and over (35 teams)
Gains: Crosby, Harding, Naugatuck
Losses: New Canaan, Newington, South Windsor.
- Amity (752)
- Bridgeport Central (743)
- Brien McMahon (941)
- Cheshire (718)
- Conard (763)
- Crosby (693) (+ up from L)
- Danbury (1,598)
- Darien (727)
- East Hartford (949)
- Enfield (760)
- Fairfield Ludlowe (765)
- Fairfield Prep (807)
- Fairfield Warde (767)
- Glastonbury (979)
- Greenwich (1,408)
- Hall (778)
- Hamden (821)
- Harding (707) (+ up from L)
- Manchester (855)
- Naugatuck (693) (+ up from L)
- New Britain (1,494)
- New Milford (705)
- Newtown (813)
- Norwalk (948)
- Norwich Free Academy (1,099)
- Ridgefield (795)
- Shelton (766)
- Simsbury (749)
- Southington (999)
- Stamford (1,054)
- Staples (961)
- Trumbull (1,075)
- West Haven (818)
- Westhill (1,169)
- Wilbur Cross (869)
Enrollments: 514-692 (36 teams)
Gains: Berlin, Hillhouse, New Canaan, Newington, South Windsor, St. Joseph, Stratford.
Losses: Avon, Crosby, Harding, Naugatuck, Platt, RHAM.
- Bassick (526)
- Berlin (490*) (+ up from M)
- Bristol Central (614)
- Bristol Eastern (549)
- Bunnell (558)
- Daniel Hand (557)
- E.O. Smith (544)
- East Lyme (526)
- Farmington (634)
- Fitch (610)
- Guilford (543)
- Hartford Public (609)
- Hillhouse (550) (+ up from M)
- Kennedy (691)
- Maloney (619)
- Masuk (519)
- Middletown (670)
- New Canaan (646) (- down from LL)
- New London (538)
- Newington (691) (- down from LL)
- North Haven (553)
- Notre Dame-West Haven (535)
- Platt Tech (515)
- Pomperaug (645)
- Quinebaug Valley
Co-op: Ellis Tech (Host), Putnam & Tourtellotte
- Sacred Heart/Kaynor
Co-op: Sacred Heart (Host) & Kaynor Tech
- South Windsor (691) (- down from LL)
- St. Joseph (390*) (+ up from M)
- Stratford (536) (+ up from M)
Co-op: Vinal Tech (Host), Goodwin Tech & Whitney Tech
- Wethersfield (569)
- Wilby (602)
- Wilton (631)
- Windsor (629)
- Woodstock Academy (533)
- Xavier (692)
Enrollments: 388-518 (35 teams)
Gains: Avon, Granby/Canton (new co-op), Griswold/Wheeler (new co-op), Platt, RHAM, Valley Regional/OL.
Losses: Berlin, Bacon Academy, Coginchaug/Hale Ray/East Hampton, Hillhouse, Ledyard, Sheehan, St. Joseph, Stratford.
Co-op: Abbott Tech (Host) & Immaculate
- Avon (494) (- down from L)
- Bethel (498)
- Branford (446)
- Brookfield (446)
Co-op: Bulkeley (Host), HMTCA & Weaver
- Cheney Tech (487)
- Coventry/Windham Tech/Bolton/Lyman
Co-op: Coventry (Host), Bolton, Lyman Memorial & Windham Tech
- CREC Coop
Co-op: Civic Leadership (Host), Aerospace & MLC
- East Haven (483)
- Ellington (401)
- Foran (437)
Co-op: Gilbert (Host) & Northwestern
- Granby/Canton (new co-op – both up from S)
Co-op: Granby Memorial (Host) & Canton
- Griswold/Wheeler (new co-op – Griswold up from S)
Co-op: Griswold (Host) & Wheeler
- Joel Barlow (469)
- Jonathan Law (422)
- Killingly (387*)
- Lyman Hall (513)
- MCW United
Co-op: Wolcott Tech (Host), Housatonic Regional & Wamogo
- New Fairfield (410)
- Platt (492) (- down from L)
- RHAM (478) (- down from L)
- Rockville (433)
Co-op: SMSA (Host), Classical Magnet & University
- Thames River
Co-op: Norwich Tech (Host), Grasso Tech & St. Bernard
- Tolland (397)
- Torrington (465)
- Valley Regional/Old Lyme (+ up from S)
Co-op: Valley Regional (Host) & Old Lyme
- Waterford (430)
- Watertown (415)
- Weston (430)
- Wilcox Tech (394)
- Windsor Locks/Suffield/East Granby
Co-op: Windsor Locks (Host), East Granby & Suffield
- Wolcott (391)
Enrollments: Up to 387 (35 teams)
Gains: Amistad (new program), Bacon Academy, Coginchaug/Hale Ray/East Hampton, Ledyard, Sheehan
Losses: Canton and Granby (new co-op), Griswold (new co-op with Wheeler), Valley Regional/Old Lyme.
- Amistad (301) (debut)
- Ansonia (351)
- Bacon Academy (379) (- down from M)
- Bloomfield (287)
- Bullard Havens Tech (364)
Co-op: Capital Prep (Host) & Achievement First
- Coginchaug/Hale Ray/East Hampton (- down from M)
Co-op: Coginchaug (Host), East Hampton & Hale Ray
Co-op: Cromwell (Host) & Portland
- Derby (223)
- East Catholic (290)
- Haddam-Killingworth (332)
- Holy Cross (232)
- Ledyard (384) (- down from M)
- Lewis Mills (372)
- Montville (280)
- Morgan (303)
- North Branford (239)
- Northwest Catholic (265)
- Notre Dame-Fairfield (232)
- O’Brien Tech (349)
- Old Saybrook/Westbrook
Co-op: Old Saybrook (Host) & Westbrook
- Oxford (266)
- Plainfield (342)
- Plainville (372)
- Prince Tech (340)
- Rocky Hill (373)
- Seymour (331)
- Sheehan (380) (- down from M)
- St. Paul (222)
- Stafford/East Windsor/Somers
Co-op: Stafford (Host), East Windsor & Somers
- Stonington (376)
- Trinity Catholic/Wright Tech (new co-op)
Co-op: Trinity Catholic (Host) & Wright Tech
- Waterbury Career Academy (328)
- Windham (328)
- Woodland (360)