High school athletics: ECC realigns for 2018 fall season; SHS tapped for Div. II in football

High school athletics: ECC realigns for 2018 fall season; SHS tapped for Div. II in football

The Westerly Sun
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STONINGTON — The Eastern Connecticut Conference will expand to four divisions in soccer, girls volleyball and cross country next fall, but stay at three for football.

Stonington High, which competed this season in Division II across the board, was slotted in Division III by enrollment for 2018. The Bears will “move up” to Division II for football, jump to Division I for boys soccer and “stay” in Division III for girls soccer.

Those are among the changes adopted by the ECC advisory board, which approved the fall 2018 divisional alignment Thursday in a unanimous vote by the 19 school athletic directors. Principals also voted 19-0 for the proposal.

The new alignment includes Putnam, which had been a member of the league from 2000-10.

The alignment process began with teams placed in divisions based on school enrollment by gender for each sport, which will take place annually going forward instead of the former biennial practice.

Programs were then “moved between divisions based on program strength,” ECC commissioner Gary Mackowicki said in a statement. “The evaluation of programs was based on success over the past two years, size of programs, number of levels and projected strength. ... Balanced divisions allow for a more appropriate level of competition within the division and scheduled crossover games between divisions.”

With the ECC divided into four divisions by enrollment, Stonington had the highest number — 726 (373 boys, 353 girls) — among five Division III schools. That means in the three-division football alignment for next fall, the Bears will be the smallest school in Division II.

Stonington athletic director Bryan Morrone said Woodstock Academy, which has struggled in Division II in football, requested to move down to Division III though it’s the third-largest school (1,090 students) in the ECC, behind only NFA (2,326) and Fitch (1,153).

“Woodstock has struggled. They don’t belong in Division II,” Morrone said. “We reluctantly agreed to move up [to Division II in the new alignment], but we will have just one crossover. Others will cross over twice, sometimes three times. [Division III] Windham said they would cross over to help the league. It’s kind of a compromise. We’d prefer to be in Division III given the state of our program, but we understand we’re the largest-enrolled school in the original Division III alignment.”

Other schools in football’s Division II will be Bacon Academy, Killingly (up from D-III), Ledyard (down from D-I) and Waterford. Morrone said the Bears will likely play New London in their crossover game. Schedules for next fall should be completed by Thanksgiving.

Stonington will also compete in Division II in boys and girls cross country.

In boys soccer, the Bears, who recently finished a 19-1-1 season in the state quarterfinals, will compete in Division I with NFA, East Lyme and Fitch.

In girls soccer, Stonington will play in Division III with Griswold, Montville, New London and St. Bernard. Montville and Stonington played in Division II this season; Griswold and St. Bernard in Division III; and New London drops from Division I.

Morrone said there will be no crossovers between D-I and D-IV teams.

One division remains for field hockey and swimming.

”We’re not creating power divisions,” Morrone said. “We’re trying to make it so that teams in every division can handle the teams in their division.”

Makowicki said the new alignment “will benefit programs that are struggling to be competitive in the division they had been assigned based strictly on enrollment. The new alignments will also serve programs from smaller schools that are looking for a more competitive schedule.”

Wheeler, with the smallest enrollment (186) in the league, will play in Division IV in all its sports.

ECC Football 2018

Division I: East Lyme, Fitch, New London, NFA. Division II: Bacon, Killingly, Ledyard, Stonington, Waterford. Division III: Griswold, Montville, Plainfield, Windham, Woodstock.



Boys soccer 

Division I: NFA, East Lyme, Fitch, Stonington. Division II: Bacon, Ledyard, Plainfield, Waterford, Woodstock. Division III: Griswold, Killingly, Lyman, Montville, Windham. Division IV: Plainfield, Putnam, St. Bernard, Tourtellotte, Wheeler.



Girls soccer

 Division I: NFA, East Lyme, Fitch, Woodstock. Division II: Bacon, Killingly, Ledyard, Plainfield, Waterford. Division III: Griswold, Montville, New London, St. Bernard, Stonington. Division IV: Lyman, Putnam, Tourtellotte, Wheeler, Windham.






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