MIAA releases new high school football divisional alignments
The MIAA unveiled its new divisional football alignments for the 2016 high school season on Friday. Western Massachusetts will continue to have four divisions, although some teams have been shuffled within the newly numbered sections, while the rest of the state moves away from the previous six-division alignment into an eight-division format. The alignments are based on the number of boys enrolled in each school.
The highest division in the West is Division II, followed by Division III, IV and IV-A.
In Berkshire County, Pittsfield, Taconic and Monument Mountain are now in Division III. Wahconah, Lee, Drury and Hoosac Valley are in Division IV while Mount Greylock and McCann Tech are in Division IV-A. The new alignments are subject to appeal.
Wahconah coach Gary Campbell, Jr. said aligning the divisions based on enrollment is the fairest possible way.
"The state has finally done the right thing and gone purely by enrollment," he said. "Every state does it and we're finally doing it. We're in a fair spot... I think [enrollment] is what makes the whole thing fair."
While the enrollment numbers technically level out the playing field, schools in co-ops are put into unique positions. The calculated enrollment total is the combined enrollment of the host and guest schools. Co-op teams do benefit from the guest schools, but the number of players from the guest school vary from co-op to co-op.
Drury did not earn a win this season within the county, but the new alignment keeps the Blue Devils out of the lowest division, moving them from Division V to IV. Since it's in a co-op with St. Joseph, the 46 boys enrolled at St. Joe are added to Drury's 148, keeping the Blue Devils out of Division IV-A.
Drury coach Seth Shepard said he's thankful for the co-op's role in maintaining football at both schools. However, with only two players from St. Joe on the team this season, enrollment numbers may not tell the whole story for his team.
"We're a small school trying to create a program," he said. "When a program isn't having success, it's tough to get kids to come out."
Shepard added that he's still trying to gather information on whether to appeal, but he does not want to disrupt the co-op with St. Joe.
"I just want it to be fair for our kids," he said. "The two kids we had from St. Joe are awesome kids, and if it means we have to play in Division IV, then I'll take those kids all day.
"If they want to play with us, that's the type of kids we want. That's what we want is an atmosphere where kids want to pay the sport and we'll build from there."
A full list of the alignments can be found here
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