The Ansonia football team races onto the field during the 2010 season. The Chargers will be competing in Class M this season -- its highest playoff division in 31 years.
They haven’t been officially posted by the CIAC, but anyone with a brain can discover the 2011 high school football playoff divisional layout.
Just not me, apparently. On Friday, one of our loyal posters mentioned he noticed that perennial small-school contender Ansonia had been bumped to Class M this season. Thinking CIAC had released the new numbers today, I leaped to my computer to check them out. Of course, nothing was doing.
That is, until I looked at the composite schedules posted last week. Sure enough, they were all laid out differently than the year before. After cross-checking with last year’s divisions, and confirming the new teams (like O’Brien Tech) were indeed on the schedule, I can say that — yes — the 2011 divisions are done.
We still await the 2011 packet with the official numbers. They should be out soon. But we can now take a look at who’s competing with who for the four state championships this season.
First, the composite schedules: CLASS LL | CLASS L | CLASS M | CLASS S
Here’s the breakdown:
Gained: Bristol Central (from L); Bristol Eastern (L); Crosby (L).
Lost: Wilbur Cross (to L)
2010 playoff teams: 9
Total: 36 (up from 34)
(2010 playoff teams in bold)
AMITY, BRIDGEPORT CENTRAL, BRISTOL CENTRAL (up from L), BRISTOL EASTERN (up from L), CHESHIRE, CONARD-WEST HARTFORD, CROSBY (up from L), DANBURY, EAST HARTFORD, FAIRFIELD PREP, GLASTONBURY, GREENWICH, HALL-WEST HARTFORD, HAMDEN, HARDING, HARTFORD PUBLIC, MANCHESTER, McMAHON, NEW BRITAIN, NEW MILFORD, NEWINGTON, NEWTOWN, NORWALK, NORWICH FREE ACADEMY, POMPERAUG, RIDGEFIELD, SHELTON, SIMSBURY, SOUTH WINDSOR, SOUTHINGTON, STAMFORD, STAPLES, TRUMBULL, WEST HAVEN, WESTHILL, XAVIER (2010 state champion).
Gained: Coventry Windham Tech (M); East Hampton/Vinal Tech (jv in 2010); New London (M); Platt-Meriden (M); Wilbur Cross (LL).
Lost: Bristol Central (LL), Bristol Eastern (LL), Crosby (LL), Windsor Locks/Suffield/East Granby (M).
2010 playoff teams: 9
Total: 36 (36 in 2010)
AVON, BASSICK, BRANFORD, BULKELEY, BUNNELL, COVENTRY/WINDHAM TECH (up from M), DARIEN, E.O. SMITH, EAST HAMPTON/VINAL TECH (junior varsity in 2010), EAST LYME, FAIRFIELD LUDLOWE, FAIRFIELD WARDE, FARMINGTON, FERMI, FITCH, GUILFORD, HAND-MADISON, KENNEDY, MALONEY-MERIDEN, MASUK (2010 state champion), MIDDLETOWN, NAUGATUCK, NEW CANAAN, NEW LONDON (up from M), NORTH HAVEN, NOTRE DAME-WH, PLATT (up from M), PLATT TECH, RHAM, ROCKVILLE, TORRINGTON, WETHERSFIELD, WILBUR CROSS (down from LL), WILBY, WILTON, WINDSOR.
Gained: Ansonia (S), Montville (S), SMSA/University (S), Windsor Locks/Suffield/East Granby (L), Woodstock Academy (L)
Lost: Coventry/Windham Tech (L); Derby (S)*, New London (L); Platt-Meriden (L), Plainville (S)
2010 playoff teams: 7
Total: 37 (36 in 2010)
ABBOTT TECH, ANSONIA (up from S, state finalist), BACON ACADEMY, BARLOW, BERLIN, BETHEL, BROOKFIELD, BULLARD-HAVENS, CHENEY TECH, EAST HAVEN, ELLINGTON/SOMERS, ENFIELD, FORAN, GILBERT/NORTHWESTERN, HILLHOUSE (2010 state champion), LAW, LEDYARD, LEWIS MILLS, LYMAN HALL, MONTVILLE (up from S), NEW FAIRFIELD, NONNEWAUG, PUTNAM/TOURTELLOTTE/ELLIS TECH, SHEEHAN, SMSA/UNIVERSITY (up from S), ST. BERNARD/NORWICH TECH, STONINGTON, STRATFORD, TOLLAND, WATERFORD, WATERTOWN, WILCOX TECH, WINDHAM, WINDSOR LOCKS/SUFFIELD/EAST GRANBY (down from L), WOLCOTT, WOLCOTT TECH, WOODSTOCK ACADEMY (down from L)
Gained: Plainville (M); O’Brien Tech (new); Derby (M)*
Lost: Ansonia (M), Montville (M), SMSA/University (M)
2010 playoff teams: 7
Total: 37 (37 in 2010)
BLOOMFIELD, CANTON, CAPITAL PREP/CLASSICAL, COGINCHAUG, CROMWELL, DERBY* (down from M), EAST CATHOLIC, GRANBY MEMORIAL, GRISWOLD, HADDAM-KILLINGWORTH, HOLY CROSS, HOUSATONIC/WAMOGO, HYDE, IMMACULATE, KILLINGLY, MORGAN, NORTH BRANFORD, NORTHWEST CATHOLIC, NOTRE DAME-FAIRFIELD, O’BRIEN TECH (new in 2011), OLD SAYBROOK/WESTBROOK, OXFORD, PLAINFIELD, PLAINVILLE (down from M), PRINCE TECH, ROCKY HILL, SACRED HEART. SEYMOUR, ST. JOSEPH (2010 state champion), ST. PAUL, STAFFORD/EAST WINDSOR, STAMFORD ACADEMY, TRINITY CATHOLIC, VALLEY REGIONAL/OLD LYME, WEAVER, WESTON, WOODLAND.
Clearly, the biggest change is Ansonia, which moves from its traditional home of Class S to Class M. Though there might have been a few times Ansonia might have competed in a higher division, it hasn’t competed in a playoff round higher than Class S since the 1994 Class SS championship vs. Bloomfield. Before that, Ansonia’s last playoff season in a larger division was in 1980′s Class LL.
Montville, which lost to Ansonia in the 2010 Class S semifinals and St. Joseph in the Class SS state championship game, has also moved up to Class M. With defending champion Hillhouse, Brookfield and Berlin still embedded in this division, Class M looks markedly tougher than it did a year ago, at least at the top.
As for Ansonia, it’s a change — but it doesn’t make their road to a championship any more or less hard. The four-division playoff format took care of that. Last year’s Class S field was pretty tough. This year’s M might not be of the same caliber, but it certainly looks harder than this year’s Class S.
With Ansonia and Montville out of the way, Class S looks weaker than in years past — especially with St. Joseph and Woodland suffering significant graduation losses. The division’s only 2010 playoff team pickup is Plainville. Sacred Heart, Cromwell, Hyde and (maybe) Valley Regional/Old Lyme with Jimmy Fairfield-Sonn back, stick around.
Class LL and L actually gained playoff teams from a year ago.
Class LL will feature playoff qualifiers Xavier, Staples, Glastonbury, Trumbull, West Haven, NFA, etc., and then traditional heavyweights like Greenwich, Southington, New Britain, Shelton, Cheshire, Bridgeport Central, Ridgefield, etc. The division added Class L playoff qualifier Bristol Eastern and crosstown rival Bristol Central (which should provide some extra intrigue come Thanksgiving). But, for the most part, no earth-shattering changes.
Class L endured the most changes from 2010. But the usual suspects are all in attendance: Masuk, New Canaan, Darien, Hand, Bunnell, Notre Dame-West Haven, Fitch, East Lyme, Naguatuck. The class lost Bristol Eastern and Bristol Central, but added Class M playoff teams New London and Platt-Meriden, which probably gives it slightly more weight than a year ago.
*Updated: Derby had been included in the Class M division when this was first published, but was dropped into Class S over the weekend. Presumably now that the enrollment does not include O’Brien Tech.