Coaches discussed the possibility of realignment and rescheduling in the middle of a two-year cycle at the Vermont Interscholastic Football League’s end-of-season meeting Monday at Hartford High School.
And after a spirited and healthy debate, two motions — one to revisit alignments; the other to switch to a one-year schedule — were voted down by school representatives.
The alignment motion was denied 15 to 13 with one abstaining. On the rescheduling count, 16 were against, six for and six abstained.
The discussion kicked up midway through the two-plus hour meeting when Winooski coach Josh Safran raised concerns about the vitality of his school’s program that graduates seven seniors from a 17-player roster. The Spartans also played a grueling schedule and Safran said, “It’s a coin flip if we are going to play football next year.
“We are grossly imbalanced right now,” said Safran of the three divisions.
Division I is made up 13 teams; Division III has a dozen schools and Division II carries eight squads.
Coach Jim Hill, whose Otter Valley squad reached the D-III semifinals after dropping down from D-II, favored a move back to four divisions.
“It’s a good way to grow the sport,” Hill said during the open-floor debate.
Some didn’t agree, including Essex coach Charlie Burnett, an alignment committee member who said allowing teams to drop to D-III was a mistake. Otter Valley and U-32, also a playoff team, made the switch in the offseason alignment last year.
“It’s the wrong solution, right problem,” said Burnett. “We made some bad choices in the last alignment and I was part of that – it was not well done.”
Division alignments are set every two years and based on a formula that includes program success, program size, youth participation numbers and school population. Rutland coach Mike Norman said the formula, created by former Middlebury coach Peter Brakeley, is the fairest way to determine divisions.
Healthy numbers aren’t just an issue for Safran and other lower-division teams. Burlington’s Brennan Carney and Mount Mansfield’s Marty Richards expressed concerns about the size of their D-I programs that graduated large senior classes.
Still, with the motions being denied no action will be taken and the issues the coaches raised with the alignments will have to wait until after the 2014 season. Some teams have been trading games during this offseason to create more competitive matchups.
Winooski has already picked up Mount St. Joseph and dropped its nonleague game against Milton, a deal that worked when Otter Valley opted to take on the Yellowjackets.
Notes: Missisquoi Union is getting closer to bringing a football program to the Swanton for the 2014 season, said Mike O’Day, the VIFL scheduler and treasurer. Missisquoi would play a JV schedule first. … Jim Hill of Otter Valley and Brian Divelbliss of U-32 were named the coaches for next year’s North-South senior game.