Connecticut High School Football

High School Football news, analysis, commentary and features from the reporters of the Hearst Connecticut Media Group.

We’re engaged! Naugatuck Valley League, Oxford to tie knot

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The courtship is over.

Let the wedding plans begin!

After three and a half months of wooing, the NVL has accepted Oxford’s marriage proposal, the Waterbury Rep-Am reported today.

All that’s left are the official vows and the ‘I Dos.”

But hang on, lovebirds.

The young school, which has apparently just teased the SWC into an uncommitted relationship since its founding in 2008, will have to wait to unite with its secret love.

With schedules practically set for the coming school year, Oxford won’t be able to join the NVL until 2014-15.

But that’s not stopping the love letters from flowing:

“It seems like this was something that was meant to be,” Naugatuck athletic director and NVL president Tom Pompei told the Rep-Am. “Someone made a reference to the sign that you see on Route 8, about the All-American Valley, with Ansonia, Derby, Seymour, Naugatuck, and Oxford.”

How sweet.

But now, the logistics:

Oxford’s addition will bump the NVL’s membership to an uneven 15 schools. The NVL announced it would accommodate the imbalance by dividing itself into three divisions.

According to the Republican-American, the divisions will be thus:

  • Division A: Ansonia, Derby, Oxford, St. Paul, Seymour.
  • Division B: Crosby, Holy Cross, Kennedy, Sacred Heart, Wilby.
  • Division C: Naugatuck, Torrington, Watertown, Wolcott, Woodland.

Pompei said the NVL hasn’t figured on how this structure would work out. “That’s for another meeting,” he told the paper.

The courtship began in November, when the Oxford board of education, led by former Oxford football assistant and board member Gerard Carbonaro, made their first public push to join the NVL. Oxford made a formal presentation earlier this month.

Proponents believed the NVL is a better fit for Oxford because of its proximity to natural town rivals Seymour, Ansonia and Derby, and because it would cut down on travel time between games.  Most of the NVL is located in and around Waterbury, whereas the SWC is spread further across Fairfield County.

The board also believed the NVL’s schools are closer in size to Oxford, a Class S school, and would create more competitive games.

Yet, Oxford’s move to the NVL will be a marriage of inconvenience for several of its teams The school has boys volleyball, lacrosse and wrestling teams, none of which are sponsored by the NVL.

Correction: Oxford doesn’t have lacrosse. So the “inconvenience,” as it were, is lessened considerably.

Last year, the SWC, Oxford’s home since 2008, attempted to assuage the school’s concerns by reorganizing its football divisions in to large, medium and small. Under this format, Oxford won a school-record 8 games and just missed a Class S playoff berth.

With the impending move, however, the once-again jilted SWC would drop back to 13 teams.

Categories: NVL, SWC
Sean Patrick Bowley

43 Responses

  1. Ballfoot says:

    I also heard Rico Brogna might be back in the NVL as the OC of Watertown? Any confirmation SPB??

  2. Rob says:

    I am personally happy that Oxford is coming to the NVL. They are an up and coming football program. And football is the sport I am primarily concernced with, as are most people who follow a high school football blog.

    Rough situation for them to be in the SWC this upcoming season as lame ducks. They will hear it every single game, you can bet on that.

    SPB has a curiosly strong and negative response to this move. Many times on this very blog, a commenter will bring up controversies or injustices and SPB will respond with a “Meh, who cares, it is what it is.” But on this issue, he has been irked from the start. Maybe he is a bigger fan of boys volleyball, lacrosse and wrestling than we all knew. Must be hanging out with LaxWorm too much. ha

  3. Other than the prospect of playing 4 teams under the traditional “valley” banner — and believe me I get that attraction — this love affair makes no sense.

    The leagues are now unbalanced, and a bunch of sports are now hanging to twist in the wind.

    This was purely a football move made by football guys. That whole ‘proximity’ thing is ridiculous. SWC teams weren’t on Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. Pomperaug, Masuk and Newtown have just as many similarities if not more with Oxford as Seymour, Beacon Falls, Derby and Ansonia. The only bind is the ‘Valley’ moniker and the fewer generations that have remained.

    Newsflash: The valley of the glory days is gone. Seymour, Oxford, Shelton, Derby etc are not the same as they once were — they’re not worse, per se, they’re just not what you think they are. And these towns are only going to change more as people from NY look to nice, sprawling towns like Oxford, Shelton and Seymour but at mortgages cheaper than lower Fairfield County.

    Point is, the towns are changing. The only thing that binds is the geography.

    Also, every school crying about competitiveness always points to the NVL as some sort of safe haven. The only other leagues I hear mentioned in the same breath is the Pequot and the CSC. What the heck does that tell you?

    Again, a nostalgia move made purely for football and nothing more.

    But, hey, no denying football rules. It does in college and it does here.

    Whatever. Onward Oxford! I can’t wait until the first Ansonia game.

  4. Rob says:

    a. Why does it matter if the leagues are unbalanced? Most everybody outside the FCIAC claims to despise league title games. Other than that, what other need is there for an even number of teams in a league? Seems like an argument that only looks good on paper.

    b. The “safe haven” thing is complete nonesense and even Oxford knows it. You can’t talk about the 8-2 football record in one breath and then the next talk about switching leagues to be more competitive. Yes, Oxford did not play Masuk this year. That happens many times in these overgrown leagues these days. All teams do not play each other. Oxford went 8-2 in the SWC, that’s what the record book will say.

    c. So yes, I think we agree that it’s “a nostalgia move made purely for football and nothing more”. But the queation is why does that bother you?

  5. It bothers me because I don’t think this benefits the overall student populace, especially in the future. It’s not even a lateral move, logistically. It was made by people with football on the brain, not truly of what’s best for the school’s students. Sure, you heard a lot of blustering: travel time cut down, more competitiveness, yada yada. Oxford did well in the SWC. Going to Pomperaug, Masuk or Newtown, or Redding or Bethel or Stratford wasn’t so bad. Now three sports have no place to go, basketball is going to get hammered… Oxford’s sports has so much more to offer than then NVL provides. And it’s only going to get bigger. I just hate to see emotional ties to the old days clouding the decision.

    And the ‘safe haven’ thing is tangible feeling among sports people around here. Bridgeport people wanted to go to the NVL because they believed it would be more competitive for them. Oxford said the same thing. Derby said the same thing.

  6. Rob says:

    If you are concerned for the youth volleyballers, lax bros and wrestlers in Oxford, then I understand. If I was a Wolverine sophomore volleyball player or I had a son that was, I would not be happy about the uncertainty this presents. (Important to note: They will likely find a place somewhere in 2014, yet to be determined. This won’t be the end of those programs.)

    But I have no interest in these things and neither do most people. Football is the most popular sport in the country by far. As you said, it rules sports programs in college and high schools. Even with that said, the football coach/AD of Oxford is only one man and this is not Texas. He is not a Varsity Blues style dictator. There are clearly people in Oxford who feel they would rather be associated with the NVL than the SWC, despite their beautiful sprawling lawns.

    Love ya SPB. Hope you know this is all in the spirit of good discussion. Well, I have to go now and watch the Knicks lose another horrible game to the Raptors. Go Orange.

  7. Fan says:

    What will the other Division be Named, The Aluminum Foil?

  8. another fan says:

    @6 SPB, Derby did just as good in the SCC as they did in the NVL, with a better team in the NVL,what does that tell you…I took advantage of the lower mortgage rates in the Valley and purchased a Florida home, but I sure as hell would’nt want to buy a home in a town where the nieghbors will call the SWAT team to kill you for loud music and an overgrown shabby lawn even if they think they have the best high school football.Ok, I agree the NVL as a whole is not what it used to be but it will rule again !

  9. @another fan – Derby really, really didn’t do just as well in the SCC. They were a trauma ward with cleats in the SCC

  10. High School Football Fan says:

    Derby also benefited by playing D2 in the SCC

  11. fciacfan says:

    While I don’t have a horse in this race, Sean I agree with you 100%. While this might be a good move from a football perspective, it is a decision that was not made in the best interests in ALL of the Oxford student body, I believe. Any sport which Oxford now sponsors that the NVL does not is in for a rough go. Granted, they are “minor” sports to some…but not to those players and parents who are involved. Wrestling might do OK, as wrestling lends itself to invitational meets where multiple teams compete. How about a sport like volleyball?(yep, this is a football blog, not a volleyball one, I know) Do you think the SWC is going to say “No problem if the NVL does not have volleyball….you can stay here with us?” I may be wrong, but I don’t think so…..So, then do they play an “independent” schedule? What is that going to cost in terms of travel? Because with today’s budgets in education, you know the other 14 schools in the league are not going to start new teams any time soon…………

    Again, good football move — probably. Should generate good local interest for many games. Made with ALL students in mind? Don’t think so…

  12. Cash says:

    Thank god. That is where they belong. No teeth.

  13. CTFB12 says:

    I believe the only sports that will be left out in the cold would be Gymnastics, Lacrosse, and Wrestling. I could be wrong but most of those sports would be able to play an independent schedule. I know Holy Cross and Watertown have lacrosse and HC has wrestling. Gymnastics not sure about. That being said, Oxford bitched and moaned along with Weston about having to play all the big schools in the SWC, so the powers that be changed the alignment of the league for them and this is how they repay them for that? I guess the promise of being more competitive in football was just to alluring. It did wonders for Derby, I guess if your not very good and want to make yourself instantly better, Join the NVL

  14. mueller says:

    Any chance that Oxford and Pompy continue their series?

  15. gottalaff says:

    oxford traveling to fairfield,danbury,and weston not a proximity thing?not to mention easton and wtf is new fairfield?oxford is exactly where they belong.if you wanna look at pretty lawns and spawling land go on a bus tour.

  16. nvlchamp says:

    spb—-i sense a little distaste in your mouth from oxford move—-its like sorrycuse going to acc,lol

  17. @nvlchamp – I don’t care per se, I just hate that they just uprooted everybody because they want to have a better shot to reach the football state playoffs and playing four valley “rivals” a year. This would have been a much better move in 1969.

    And Cuse to the ACC makes a little more sense because, unlike the SWC, the Big East is a foundering ship. It’s not ideal, but get out while the getting’s good. I’m glad alma mater got out, even though the ACC is technically not a good fit, either (All aboard to Greensboro!).

    But Northeast leagues are dead, that’s college realignment for you.

    And this notion that the SWC teams are so far away is bunk. New Fairfield’s not that far from 84, honestly. Newtown, and more Masuk, Pomperaug are pretty close. Bethel’s not bad. And Immaculate. Nor Notre Dame or the Stratford schools. New Milford’s kind of a hike, but it’s not like you’re going to Putnam. It’s just up rte 67. Weston and Barlow require some back-road maneuvering, but you’re not going too far there, either.

    What do you people want, all home games? The ECC, Pequot and SCC shoreline schools, laugh at our petty ‘travel concerns’ over here.

  18. CTFB12 says:

    I’m sure that Oxford to Torrington isnt that short of a ride, St Paul and Watertown either

  19. Let’s break it down:

    On average, a ride from Oxford to the 14 NVL schools is about two miles and five minutes shorter than an average trip to an SWC school.

    Two miles! Five minutes! Oh the humanity!

    This was done by tracking the shortest route via Google Maps from Oxford to each of the schools. Naturally, a bus will probably move a tad slower, but the differences would add time to everyone, so it’s not aplicable here. What is aplicable is the time difference on average.

    Oxford – Wolcott: 24 miles – 40 minutes
    Oxford – Torrington: 37 miles, 45 minutes
    Oxford – Wilby: 21 miles, 31 minutes
    Oxford – Crosby: 21 miles, 31 minutes
    Oxford – Holy Cross: 16.5 miles, 24 minutes
    Oxford – Watertown: 20 miles, 31 minutes
    Oxford – St. Paul: 35 miles, 50 minutes
    Oxford – Derby: 6 miles, 12 minutes
    Oxford – Ansonia: 8 miles, 17 minutes
    Oxford – Seymour: 3 miles, 6 minutes
    Oxford – Woodland: 6 miles, 12 minutes
    Oxford – Naugatuck: 13 miles, 23 minutes
    Oxford – Sacred Heart: 17 miles, 24 minutes
    Oxford – Kennedy: 16 miles, 22 minutes

    17.4 miles, 26 minutes

    Oxford – Stratford: 17 miles, 25 minutes
    Oxford – Bunnell: 15 miles, 23 minutes
    Oxford – Masuk: 8 miles, 15 minutes
    Oxford – Newtown: 10 miles, 17 minutes
    Oxford – Pomperaug: 9 miles, 16 minutes
    Oxford – Bethel: 19 miles, 33 minutes
    Oxford: Weston – 30 miles, 60 minutes
    Oxford: Barlow – 22 miles, 40 minutes
    Oxford: Immaculate – 27 miles, 37 minutes
    Oxford: Brookfield – 21 miles, 32 minutes
    Oxford: New Fairfield – 27 miles, 40 minutes
    Oxford: New Milford – 28 miles, 39 minutes
    Oxford: Notre Dame-Fairfield: 19 miles, 34 minutes
    Oxford: Lauralton Hall: 14 miles, 29 minutes

    Average: 19.0 miles, 31 minutes

    You’ll notice some distances take longer times than other, similar distances according to Google maps. This is taking into account highway vs. secondary road and city travel. Also, you have to add the parkway factor. The shortest ride from Oxford to Weston (30 miles) takes 60 minutes because a bus can’t travel on the parkway, and must use secondary roads.

    Anyway, there’s a difference, but it’s not like we’re talking a 10-15-20 minute extra trips.

  20. johnnyribbs says:

    In football look at how their divisional distances match up.

    Worth noting however (I think) that in hoops/baseball/softball the NVL teams listed below will be home/away every year while for all other teams in the NVL – Oxford will only have to travel to every other year.

    While I agree with SPB on many of his points, tough to argue that the games listed (the teams they will play every year) won’t mean a bit more in the NVL.

    SWC Patriot Division Travel times –
    Oxford: Weston – 30 miles, 60 minutes
    Oxford: Immaculate – 27 miles, 37 minutes
    Oxford: Notre Dame-Fairfield: 19 miles, 34 minutes

    NVL Division A Travel times –
    Oxford – St. Paul: 35 miles, 50 minutes (and if Woodland was here like it should have been, that even makes my point way more correct)
    Oxford – Derby: 6 miles, 12 minutes
    Oxford – Ansonia: 8 miles, 17 minutes
    Oxford – Seymour: 3 miles, 6 minutes

  21. @johnnyribbs – Fair point.

    But think about this: Who the hell really cares about division titles? I mean, other than the team that wins it and the trophy store that prints the T-shirts?

    I guuuuuuesss you could say Oxford’s division makeup has a bit more meaning due to proximity to and geographical tradition with its division rivals. There’s something to that, sure.

    But, again, when does anyone here, ever, care about division titles? They’re unnecessary outside of scheduling purposes. At worst, they’re cosmetic, especially when three division leagues (like the SWC and the FCIAC) typically don’t even use the division title as championship criteria. The NVL’s two divisions at least bought the champ a ticket to the league title game. Now it won’t. (Even then, ask Ansonia how much they care about winning their division and playing an extra game?)

    And isn’t it fun when a division champ, because of its non-division losses, doesn’t even make the state playoffs, but the runner-up does? I love when that happens, too.

    But, yes, I’d say you’re right. It will mean more, technically.

  22. johnnyribbs says:

    yea dont’ give a crap about the division titles, can’t find too many NVL’ers that would disagree.

    The regular season games will mean more, which is cool. I think that will be true across all sports. At least those “normal” sports the NVL participates in.

  23. High School Football Fan says:

    I hope the NVL will have determine their divisions based on Football Program Strength/Winning Percentage than the schools geographical location.

  24. Rob says:

    When discussing teams moving to the NVL with thoughts of an easier football schedule, the clear example is Derby. They have been brought up a few times on this thread as a shining example of a team that came into the NVL and is now thriving. Let’s look at the facts.

    From 1994 to 1999, Derby was a mediocre team in the SCC. Hovering around .500 but never in playoff contention, they were a respectable program albeit one whose glory days of 1990 seemed like a lifetime ago. As we moved into the 2000s, there is no question that the program declined further, but they were not horrible every year as we like to remember now. In 2004 Derby was 4-6. In 2005 Derby was 5-5.

    Here are the years immediately before and after Derby’s move to the NVL:

    2007 SCC: 3-7
    2008 SCC: 3-8
    2009 NVL: 4-6
    2010 NVL: 5-5
    2011 NVL: 4-6

    Those records tell the story. Derby’s record shows minor improvement after the transition to the NVL, but the needle barely moved. And the marginal improvement can just as easily be attributed to a (much needed) coaching change and the ebbs and flows of talent that happen at all schools.

    Despite low enrollment, a program with the pride and tradition of Derby is not going to stay “down” forever. At some point after they moved to the NVL, Derby was inevitably going to start improving. But it’s way too easy to attribute this to the move itself, especially when the records show that the improvement was not immediate. It seems more likely to me that the improvement was due to the randomness of some talented classes (QB Krieger, RB Hendricks, WR Tomczak, WR McMahon) walking in the hallways and a fantastic head coach in George French and his enthusiastic staff.

    And let’s also put Derby’s current “success” of 2012 in perspective. They went 6-4. I understand that a dormant but passionate fan base wanted to have a parade and I don’t blame them. But is 6-4 the defintion of being back on the scene? Oxford, Weston, and Barlow all went 8-2 in the SWC. Yet Derby going 6-4 four years after leaving the SCC is somehow being used as proof that the NVL is an inferior league?

  25. Regardless, that’s is the reason Derby moved. They believed the NVL would be a better fit competitively. And, so far, it has proven correct.

    If you look at those results, they do reflect the loss of two Division I SCC games per year for games in the NVL.

    Replaced with NVL opponents, Derby has averaged an extra 1.2 victories per year in NVL, which shows they have had a 50/50 shot at winning the two new NVL games as opposed to 0 of the SCC D1 games they were saddled with.

  26. nvlchamp says:

    WAIT A MINUTE——-ALL THE SCC LOUDMOUTHS WERE SAYING DERBY WOULD WIN 7-8 GAMES IN NVLST.PAUL IS THE ONLY TOUGH TRAVELING SITE IN NVL,TORRINGTON IS RIGHT OFF ROUTE 8.AT LEAST YOU DONT HAVE TO DRIVE THRU WINDING COUNTRY ROADS TO GET THERE.IF YOUR A REAL PROGRAM SUPPORTER, YOU ATTEND GAMES NO MATTER.EVEN THOUGH ECONOMICALLY TIMES HAVE CHANGED ,AND I COULD UNDERSTAND THE TRAVEL COST ISSUE,I THINK THIS WAS A GREAT MOVE BY OXFORD.HOPEFULLY IT WILL SUIT THEM AND THE NVL.SPB—-I COULD REMEMBER TRAVELING TO HARTFORD PUBLIC,EAST HARTFORD
    NEW BRITAIN, TORRINGTON IN ONE YEAR.TALK ABOUT MISERABLE RIDES.

  27. Ballfoot says:

    I dont understand the divisions??? How can you have Thanksgiving rivals in the same division? (Watertown vs Torrington)(Crosby vs Kennedy)(Sacred heart vs Wilby)How will that work for the league championship, schedules, ect..some teams will play three division games others four.

  28. I’ve been corrected, and i can’t figure out how I got this wrong (too many football hits, perhaps?): There’s no lacrosse at Oxford. So my argument is lessened considerably to the point of ‘meh’. You may commence throwing tomatoes.

  29. jeb says:

    With the addition of Oxford next year and Craig Bruno this year the NVL will finally generate some much needed excitement aroung the state. No matter if he wins or loses Bruno’s offensive play calling will keep the league interesting..I for one can’t wait to see it happen and I’m an FCIAC fan.

  30. WCC of Old says:

    I still think the NVL & SWC should come together to form a super conference, it could have 3-divisions 10 schools in each and it could be called the (SWNVC) State’s worst non-violent conference… It’s only a joke, but why not join up. With 30 teams – In football a team would play 8 division games and 2 cross division games each year. You would also be able to keep everyone’s Thanksgiving games going!

  31. @WCC of Old – I actually wouldn’t mind that. It’s been discussed.

  32. CTFB12 says:

    I dont see Brunos tactics of not punting, onside kicking EVERY kickoff and going for 2 after every score as being very accepted by the Naugatuck faithful. The first time it costs them a game they will be up in arms. I personally like his views epecially whe he lines up in his “polecat” offense, he does keep opposing coaches on their toes.

  33. Master Legend says:

    http://stats.ciacsports.com/cgi-bin/schedule-1213.cgi?school=Oxford&fonts=&heads=&sport=boys-volleyball&levels=V&combine_time_results=1&show_bus_info=1

    This is Oxford’s boys volleyball schedule for the upcoming season (I felt dirty just Googling “boys volleyball”). Of the 16 games, exactly 6 are against SWC opponents (2 each against Barlow, Masuk and Kolbe). I’m pretty sure they’ll be able to fill that massive void. Also, I’m not a betting man, but I’d be willing to wager that the football games draw slightly more fans (read: money) to games than boy’s volleyball.

    Scheduling a wrestling match is probably the easiest thing to do in the CIAC. Coach 1 “Hey, we’re looking to set up a match.” Coach 2 “Well we already have one scheduled for Saturday with 4 other schools, but you guys can come too if you want.” Coach 1 “See you Saturday (hangs up phone aggressively and turns Pantera back to full blast)”

  34. Carl D says:

    Bruno wouldnt be the first in the NVL to call games like that.

  35. johnnyribbs says:

    Master Legend killing it. good work.

    SPB – you probably thought Oxford already had Lacrosse because much of the back and forth poo-pooing the decision to the NVL would reference a boys lax and girls field hockey team that would someday exist in the dreams of some Oxford folks. They spoke of these teams as though they existed already.

  36. @johnny – yea, maybe.

  37. CTFB12 says:

    @Carl, I didn’t say the NVL, I said Naugatuck alumni and fans. Plus I really can’t think of another coach who onside kicks on every kickoff, not occasionally, EVERY kick. He also NEVER goes for the PAT, not occasionally, NEVER. He will only punt if he is backed up inside his own 20yd line, he may line up in the formation but he is going for it. Love the thinking, definitely outside the box. There is no way another coach in the NVL has ever had the philosophy that Bruno has.

  38. Rick Wilson says:

    Torrington never punted went for two every time.

  39. Carl D says:

    they onside kicked alot to Rick. I read they recovered 3 or 4 in one game last yer.

  40. Spartans97 says:

    Maybe Shelton should join the NVL too….technically, they are in the valley. Get the rivalries back, would much rather see Shelton play Ansonia, Seymour, Naugatuck, Derby, Oxford instead of teams like Chesire, ND, Prep, Xavier

  41. That’ll upset Al Carbone’s master plan to form a super-duper conference.

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