County schools shuffled in state football playoff system
The football postseason in Berkshire County is going to look a whole lot different this fall.
With a new state playoff being implemented, many of the county's schools are being shuffled in the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association's alignment for the next four years. Ten Berkshire County schools will be spread across Division IV, V, and VI, with Wahconah being the lone Berkshire team in Division IV. The Western Massachusetts champion in each division will move on to a four-team state playoff, with title games slated for Gillette Stadium in Foxborough.
"I think it's exciting for our county," said Warriors coach Gary Campbell, Jr. "That's what I'm truly hoping for, for our county to improve and for us to represent Berkshire County football in the state playoffs. We're excited for that state playoff-type situation."
Wahconah, this year's Division II champion in Western Mass., will be the smallest school in Division IV if the proposed divisions are approved, right behind the team they beat in the Super Bowl, South Hadley.
Most of the county's schools will be in Division V, including both Pittsfield and Taconic. They'll be joined by three-time Division III champion Mount Greylock, Drury, and Hoosac Valley. Monument Mountain, St. Joseph's, Lee and McCann Tech will play in Division VI. The six proposed divisions statewide were scheduled to hear appeals on Tuesday, but bad weather postponed that meeting.
"We're right where we need to be," said Drury coach Bill Bryce. "It is going to be challenging at times but I think when you look through the list, the majority of those teams were our Division III teams last year."
Bryce's Blue Devils will be one of three North County teams in Division V, joined by Hoosac Valley, a Division II champion in 2009, and Mount Greylock, the Division III champion the last three years.
"Any team that is the No. 1 or No. 2 team from Berkshire County, they're going to represent very well, compete very well," said Mounties coach Shawn Flaherty. "It should be interesting to see how we do, if a team from Berkshire County progresses into the [state] tournament. I guess that's what I'm most interested to see and most excited to see."
Campbell said he's not worried about being a tiny school in a big pond in Division IV. Other than South Hadley, Wahconah has at least 140 less boys than the rest of the division in Western Mass., which includes rival Northampton. He said a program's strength can negate enrollment disadvantages.
"We feel like our program can stack up against any of them," Campbell said. "It definitely gives you that underdog mentality, ‘Hey, we're a small school. We're going to try to get after it.' That mentality exists for us."
To reach Christopher James:
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On Twitter: @BECJ2k.
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