Football — and all of high school sports, for that matter — feels like eons ago, what with the Coronavirus pandemic wreaking havoc on everyday life.
Here in Connecticut, we haven’t held a single athletic competition for three months and, though things are slowly starting to reopen, the virus is still very much out there and remains a danger.
There’s really no telling what this upcoming 2020 fall season will ultimately look like. There’s still a whole summer ahead before we know, precisely, what we’ll be up against.
Yet, the show must and will go on.
At least, that’s the plan.
Last week, the CIAC released its extensive packet of guidelines for the reintegration of high school sports in Connecticut.
Today, it released its 2020 fall schedules, including the 2020 CIAC football state playoff divisions.
Setting aside the real possibility of coronavirus cases spiking again this fall, let’s put that aside for the moment and begin to get excited for a return to the playing fields.
HERE’S A LOOK at the 2020 CIAC football playoff divisions, as determined by the enrollments of the previous school year (2019-20). The CIAC has not released those enrollment figures online yet (we’ll add them when they do). Update: Figures added, with a reminder that co-ops are placed not strictly by enrollment but by a formula that includes enrollments and proportions of participation by the various schools.
Among some of the more intriguing moves:
St. Joseph, winners of three-consecutive state championships in three separate classes, including last year’s Class L title, has dropped back to Class M for the second time in three seasons.
While enrollment figures have yet to be published, we can assume the Hogs’ dropped back to a Class S enrollment. Their status as a state champion school-of-choice bumps them up to M with the CIAC’s recent success modifier. Update: That is, in fact, what happened: Nine standalone Class S programs this year have a higher enrollment figure than St. Joseph’s 369, which is down from 390.
The success modifier, now in its third season, 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 — are moved up one playoff class from their designated class enrollment if they’ve reached the semifinals the previous two years.
CLASS LL saw the least overall changes. Newington, a Class L playoff qualifier last year, is the only new team in Class LL. Crosby and Naugatuck have (once again), dropped back to Class L.
CLASS L saw significant movement. In addition to gaining Crosby and Naugatuck, the division also saw the return of Platt and Avon.
One significant absence is Masuk. A longtime Class L participant, the school dropped down to Class M for the first time since 2004. Same goes for Berlin, which played in Class L with a school-of-choice success modifier last season, had it removed since it didn’t advance to last year’s semifinals.
New London has also dropped to Class M.
SMSA Co-Op, a Class M playoff qualifier last year, has also joined Class L, since it has absorbed players from Bulkeley from the now-disbanded Bulkeley/Weaver Co-Op.
Perhaps the biggest overall changes came in CLASS M. Sixteen teams changed hands in this division. In addition to gaining Masuk, Berlin, St. Joseph and New London, Class M also gained Bullard-Havens, a perennial tech school playoff qualifier, and Coginchaug/Hale Ray/East Hampton.
Killingly, last year’s runner-up in this division, remains here due to its status as a school-of-choice. Killingly has reached the state semifinals in five straight seasons.
Other notable Class M departures include New Fairfield, a playoff qualifier last season, Griswold/Wheeler and Wolcott.
All three of those schools have dropped into CLASS S.
Trinity Catholic’s football program has been disbanded with the school’s closing. Nonnewaug’s on-again, off-again varsity football program has been folded into the Sacred Heart/Kaynor Tech co-op.
The CIAC has not released its annual sports information packet, so the tentative 2020 playoff dates have not been released.
Understand, those schedules are subject to change due to the ongoing battle with coronavirus. We… shall… see.
2020 CIAC Football Playoff Classes
Promotions indicated in blue; Demotions indicated in red.
*Denotes school-of-choice promotion.
Note: Enrollment figures will be added when CIAC releases them.
Enrollments: 688 and over (34 Teams)
Losses: Crosby, Naugatuck.
Bridgeport Central (746)
East Hartford (894)
Fairfield Ludlowe (725)
Fairfield Prep (770)
Fairfield Warde (746)
New Britain (1,616)
New Milford (709)
Newington (692) (+ up from L)
Norwich Free Academy (1,095)
West Haven (820)
Wilbur Cross (812)
Enrollments: 513-687 (35 Teams)
Gains: ATI United, Avon, Crosby, Naugatuck, Platt, SMSA Co-Op
Losses: Bassick, Berlin, Masuk, New London, Platt Tech, St. Joseph
ATI United (Abbott Tech/Immaculate) Co-Op (+ up from Class M)
Avon (513) (+ up from Class M)
Bristol Central (620)
Bristol Eastern (544)
Crosby (648) (- down from LL)
E.O. Smith (520)
East Lyme (513)
Hartford Public (601)
Naugatuck (682) (- down from LL)
New Canaan (679)
North Haven (519)
Notre Dame-West Haven (536)
Platt (517) (+ up from Class M)
Quinebaug Valley (Ellis Tech/Putnam/Tourtellotte) (co-op)
Sacred Heart/Kaynor/Nonnewaug (co-op)
SMSA Coop (SMSA/Bulkeley/Classical Magnet/HMTCA/University) (+ up from Class M)
South Windsor (676)
VGW Techs (Vinal Tech/Goodwin Tech/Whitney Tech) (co-op)
Woodstock Academy (561)
Enrollment: 390-512 (35 teams)
Gains: Bassick, Berlin, Bullard-Havens, Coginchaug Co-Op, Masuk, New London, Platt Tech, St. Joseph
Losses: ATI, Avon, Bulkeley/Weaver, Griswold/Wheeler, New Fairfield, Platt, SMSA, Wolcott.
Bassick (489) (- down from Class L)
Berlin (486) (- down from Class L)
Bullard-Havens (390) (+ up from Class S)
Cheney Tech (493)
Coginchaug/Hale Ray/East Hampton (co-op) (+ up from Class S)
Coventry/Windham Tech/Bolton/Lyman Memorial (co-op)
CREC Coop (Civic Leadership/Aerospace/MLC)
East Haven (479)
Lyman Hall (495)
Masuk (504) (- down from Class L)
MCW United (Wolcott Tech/Housatonic Regional/Wamogo) (co-op)
New London (511) (- down from Class L)
Platt Tech (502) (-down from Class L)
St. Joseph (369*) (- down from Class L)
Thames River (Norwich Tech/Grasso/Grasso Tech/St. Bernard) (co-op)
Valley Regional/Old Lyme (co-op)
Wilcox Tech (448)
Windsor Locks/Suffield/East Granby (co-op)
Enrollment: Up to 389 (35 teams)
Gains: Griswold/Wheeler, New Fairfield, Wolcott.
Losses: Bullard-Havens, Coginchaug Co-Op, Trinity Catholic/Wright Tech
Bacon Academy (388)
Capital Prep/Achievement First (co-op)
East Catholic (291)
Griswold/Wheeler (co-op) (- down from Class M)
Holy Cross (234)
Lewis Mills (361)
New Fairfield (350) (- down from Class M)
North Branford (236)
Northwest Catholic (247)
Notre Dame-Fairfield (199)
O’Brien Tech (372)
Old Saybrook/Westbrook (co-op)
Prince Tech (370)
Rocky Hill (377)
St. Paul (220)
Stafford/East Windsor/Somers (co-op)
Waterbury Career Academy (330)
Wolcott (373) (- down from Class M)