There will be no Berkshire County high school football championship game this year. Representatives of Hoosac Valley, McCann Tech and Wahconah high schools confirmed Monday that no Thanksgiving-week game will be held.
Wahconah representatives were told in October that McCann -- which is not a Berkshire County League team, but a member of the Pioneer Valley Interscholastic Athletic Conference -- would not take part in the system football coaches and athletic directors had approved to keep the game intact. McCann was in line to meet the Warriors, unbeaten in county play, for the championship.
The game was then offered to Hoosac Valley, which declined to play.
Initially, the game was McCann Tech's game to play against Wahconah, due to a system agreed upon by coaches at a county-wide media night in Pittsfield before the season began. McCann Tech AD Bob Guettler indicated Monday afternoon that this vote -- which included McCann coach Bob LeClair -- took place without the McCann administration's knowledge.
When they learned of it, the McCann administration informed Berkshire County's athletic directors that McCann would not take part.
"I never voted to be a part of this, and neither did the McCann principal [Justin Kratz]," Guettler said. "McCann no longer belongs to Berkshire County for sports.
"We let people know that we were not interested in this before the playoffs started. ... I notified the Berkshire County ADs as soon as I was aware that we might be under consideration. As soon as I received an email to that effect, I notified them that we were not interested."
Since both Hoosac Valley and McCann Tech went 7-1 in the regular season, the spot came down to the rating which determined Western Mass. playoff participants. That put McCann in the game with a 14.25 rating in Division VI (ahead of Hoosac's 14.0 rating in Division V).
However, Poirot said he told Wahconah football coach Gary Campbell Jr. that, if Hoosac reached the state semifinal round -- which it did, falling to Northbridge 29-22 on Saturday -- the Hurricanes would not play a county championship game.
Campbell did say that no official line of succession was ever discussed at the meeting in which the coaches voted to keep the county championship game.
"It was a unanimous vote among the coaches to go to the ADs to play a Berkshire County championship game, no matter what situation anyone was in in the county," he added. "The county championship was important, and we all wanted to save that, despite the new playoff system.
"From [the point McCann pulled out], the last two teams in were Hoosac and Wahconah. That is it in a nutshell. ... Berkshire County, by default, is ours. We even offered to have it. ... and [they] still would not do it. That's disturbing."
Poirot noted Monday afternoon that he didn't see the sense of playing a state semifinal game on a Saturday, then turning around a little more than 72 hours later and playing a county championship game.
"I don't really feel Wahconah is the deciding factor of whether or not you play the game," he said.
The change in format for determining the county championship opponents came about due to the MIAA's implementation of a state football playoff system for the first time this year. Hoosac and Wahconah were the only county teams to reach the state level, with both falling in semifinal games Saturday in Leominster.
The concern among some coaches is that, if the game isn't played this year, it may be tough to bring back in future years. The coaches' goal, Drury coach Bill Bryce said, was to keep the game going.
"With this issue, and it becoming [what] seems like a headache for some schools, we run the risk of losing it," Bryce said.
Campbell shared that concern.
"I feel as though we need to take care of home first," he said. "Berkshire County championships are something every year. ... I hope Hoosac some day gets [to a state final]. I hope Lee, St. Joe, Greylock, us, somebody gets a chance to play in it, but not as a result of giving up a Berkshire County championship."
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