The Colonial Conference will have a slightly different look beginning this fall.
Based on the NJSIAA enrollment figures for the 2014-15 school year, Audubon will move into the larger Liberty Division after moving up to Group 2 classification. Haddon Heights, which has moved down to Group 1, will switch to the smaller school Patriot Division.
Changes to schedules were made Wednesday in an emergency meeting of conference officials. All 12 schools voted and it was unanimous to make the changes, according to Haddon Heights athletic director Joe Cramp.
“There were a lot of concerns about making changes this late, but we all felt it was the right thing to do,” Cramp said. “There was such a disparity in the numbers that we all felt it should be done.
“There are some coaches who love it and some that don’t based on the sport, but it’s where it should be. Both sides will have to handle it whether they like it or not. It’s where we belong.”
In essence, Audubon and Haddon Heights simply exchanged league schedules. Football was the one sport that had to be re-worked as crossover games are based on strength of schedule from previous seasons.
Cramp also noted that league officials wanted to keep special events that already were scheduled intact — Gator Day at Gateway as an example.
The new alignment with NJSIAA enrollment numbers:
Liberty: Audubon (505), Collingswood (519), Haddonfield (568), Overbrook (528), Sterling (664), West Deptford (633)
Patriot: Gateway (437), Haddon Heights (467), Haddon Township (473), Lindenwold (383), Paulsboro (263), Woodbury (307)
“We usually like to have decisions done months ahead,” said Haddonfield athletic director Lefteris Banos, who’s also in charge of scheduling for the conference. “Once we found out that our divisions needed to be corrected, we got together and voted to make the changes. It was the right thing to do to be in compliance with our constitution.”
According to the numbers, Audubon has 38 more students in grades 10-12 than Haddon Heights.
“We always go by the numbers that the state reports,” Audubon athletic director Tony Carbone said. “Nobody wants to change schedules this late, but it was the right thing to do for the kids and the schools. We went by the numbers, and those numbers changed.
“Obviously some coaches are happy and some are not.”
Haddon Heights football coach Ralph Schiavo doesn’t have an issue with the changes.
“I think it will probably benefit us,” Schiavo said. “We’ll be playing some teams that we will be more competitive with, but beating some of those bigger schools helps come playoff time.
“I don’t have a problem with it; I like it. Our numbers have been down the past couple of years and are down again this year for whatever reason.”
Reach Kevin Minnick at kminnick@ courierpostonline.com. Follow him on Twitter @cp_varsity