A seismic shift in Western Massachusetts football will force Berkshire County teams to travel to the Pioneer Valley more frequently this football season.
Pioneer Valley Interscholastic Athletic Conference athletic directors and principals voted to approve the move of Berkshire County schools into the PVIAC on Thursday, according to the Greenfield Recorder.
The re-alignment aims to create more competitive games, placing schools in leagues with schools of similar size and enrollment. The new alignment is on a one-year trial basis.
There are now seven leagues in the PVIAC: the AA Conference, Suburban South, Suburban North, Intercounty North, Intercounty South, Intercounty West and Tri-County.
McCann Tech moves from the Tri-County to the Intercounty West. Lee, Drury and Mount Greylock move into the Intercounty West, along with Mohawk. They'll play four league games and three crossovers, one with the Intercounty North and two with the Tri-County.
Monument Mountain moves to the Intercounty South, along with Ludlow, Easthampton, Belchertown and Amherst. They'll play four league games and three crossovers, two against the Suburban North and one against the Intercounty North.
Those crossovers provide Monument a chance to continue playing Berkshire County schools, as Chicopee, Pittsfield, Taconic, Hoosac Valley, South Hadley and Wahconah make up the Suburban North. The Suburban North will play five league games and two crossovers against the Intercounty South.
Based on the MIAA's new eight-division structure for the playoffs (four in Western Mass.), Berkshire County schools in the Intercounty West have a competitively balanced schedule. The Intercounty West has five teams in Division 4A and has crossovers against the Tri-County, where five out of the six teams are also in 4A (Palmer is in Division 4).
Monument's league schedule is also balanced, with the Intercounty South consisting of four Division 3 teams and Amherst in Division 2. Crossovers against the Suburban North will present a challenge, but league members drop down in division for a crossover against the Intercounty West.
For Berkshire County teams in the Suburban North — even though the re-alignment forces Wahconah and Hoosac Valley to play up against Division 3 teams Pittsfield and Taconic, and Division 2 team Chicopee — Wahconah coach Gary Campbell Jr., said it's a positive move for Western Mass. football.
"This is the best alternative for everybody to have equity," he said. "The league can change from year-to-year, but as far as going on for a state playoff, we have the right path with playing like schools. Overall, I feel this whole thing is heading toward a Western Mass. League, but for now this is a positive step in finding equity in Massachusetts."
Contact Akeem Glaspie at 413-496-6252