Journey starts now: High school football season kicks off on Friday

Football players across the state are lacing up their cleats, strapping on their helmets and returning to the gridiron, as Friday marks the first day of football practice in Massachusetts.

Last season, Berkshire County had three teams compete in Western Mass. championship games, with Taconic and Wahconah taking home titles. This season, the county will only have two potential Western Mass. champions as the MIAA realigned the divisions in February.

In Western Mass. the divisions switched from II, III, IV and IV-A to III, V, VII and VIII. Teams are assigned to divisions based on the number of boys enrolled in the respective school.

Division III is the largest classification. Division VIII is the smallest.

No Berkshire County teams are in Divisions III or V. Pittsfield, Taconic, Wahconah and Monument Mountain are in Division VII. McCann Tech, Hoosac Valley, Drury, Mount Greylock and Lee are in Division VIII. Lee, Wahconah and Monument all moved down a division from the initial alignment proposal released in early January.

Even with the new alignments, the number of teams reaching the postseason in each division will remain at four.

In February, Wahconah coach Gary Campbell Jr., told The Eagle that the new alignments will benefit local teams.

"In Division V, if we leave Western Mass., we would be matched against schools that are two to three times the size of us," he said. "Leaving Western Mass. we didn't match up. Against Division VII teams is where we match up with Eastern Mass."

For now, the postseason is a long ways away. However, for county teams that missed a Western Mass. berth, returning to the tournament fueled their offseason. Hoosac missed the postseason last year for the first time since the postseason format changed to a playoff system in 2013. Coach Dayne Poirot said the program is ready to start anew Friday.

"I'm very eager, the other coaches are very eager, the kids are very eager," he said, "they feel like they have a lot to prove after last year. A lot of guys want to come back and work harder. They're pushing themselves to be better football players. As a whole for us to be a better football team, be together. That's what they're really looking to do."


Alignments and enrollment numbers

Division III

Springfield Central 1017; Chicopee Comp 801; Holyoke 673; Agawam 650; Minnechaug 577; Westfield 555.

Division V

Commerce 721; West Springfield 639; Amherst 498; Longmeadow 487; Ludlow 441; Northampton 425; East Longmeadow 403; Belchertown 354; Easthampton 231.

Division VII

Putnam 780; Pittsfield 465; Chicopee 443; Taconic 363; South Hadley 276; Wahconah 275; Monument 265; Frontier 192; Palmer 175.

Division VIII

Pathfinder 368; Franklin Tech 342; McCann Tech 297; Smith Voc. 284; Mahar 281; Athol 208; Hoosac Valley 194; Greenfield 183; Mount Greylock 177; Mohawk 154; Drury 148; Ware 144; Pioneer Valley 122; Turners Falls 121; Lee 116.

Reach sports writer Akeem Glaspie at 413-496-6252 or @TheAkeemGlaspie.


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