MIAA's Tournament Management Committee approves alignments for football, wrestling in 2021-22

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The Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association's Tournament Management Committee voted on Tuesday to approve alignments for high school football and wrestling. They would go into effect in the 2021-22 school year.

One of those votes was a fairly easy one.

Wrestling's realignment was approved on a vote of 10-2 with one abstention. The football vote was 8 in favor and 5 opposed, but that vote came after a similar vote on the football realignment was 4-8-1. The difference? Where co-op teams should fall in the alignments.

In the past, co-op teams — teams with players from more than one school on it — would move up a division. But under the plan first formulated by the MIAA's Football Committee, the co-op teams would not move up.

Both plans, the one rejected and the one approved, involve dividing the Commonwealth into eight divisions. Under the division structure voted on, Pittsfield would be in Division V, Monument Mountain would be in Division VI, while Wahconah would be in Division VII. The remaining football-playing schools, Taconic, McCann Tech, Drury, Lee and Hoosac Valley, would be in Division VIII. Taconic slides to VIII because of its standing as a vocational school, and those schools drop two divisions.

"There are no perennial powers in this 27-school [co-op] list," said Steve Dembowski, the Milton High School coach and the president of the Massachusetts High School Football Coaches Association, "and only a couple of these programs have had success. Sixty-four percent of these teams are from the Central and Western part of the state. We've lost 34 programs since the last alignment. We're down to 274 programs right now.

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"If you move these schools up and then they appeal down, the fear from the coaches' association is that we're going to end up in Division VII and VIII with more than 40 schools in those divisions."

Monument and Lee are the two co-op schools. Monument allows players from Mount Everett while Lee takes players from Lenox. Lee is already in Division VIII, while Monument would have the opportunity to appeal its way down.

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The original plan was defeated because some Eastern Mass. athletic directors and administrators on the TMC were in favor of the co-op adjustment.

"There are co-ops specifically in our area that I know people would be upset if they are not moved up because there is a feeling that they are creating a competitive imbalance by bringing together two schools that might not always need them for survival," Westborough athletic director Johanna DiCarlo said. "Those four or five kids that they are taking from one school can dramatically change how a team performs in some cases and so I am definitely a much bigger advocate of keeping the factor in and then letting those schools appeal that they are having a hard time with it."

The easier vote came on the wrestling realignment.

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The state will now be divided up into three separate divisions. Division I will be a West-Central division, with schools like Springfield Central and the Chicopee-Chicopee Comprehensive co-op going into a division with schools like St. John's of Shrewsbury, Framingham, Natic and the Worcester city schools co-op.

The new Division II will be a Western Mass. division, including schools like Holyoke, Agawam and West Springfield.

The Berkshire County wrestling schools, Taconic, Monument Mountain, Mount Greylock and Mount Everett, have not moved from Division III.

The TMC also took up a discussion of what the post-season could look like for the 2020-21 season, but elected to take no action. The committee awaits action taken from the governor's office before moving forward.

Howard Herman can be reached at hherman@berkshireeagle.com, at @howardherman on Twitter, or 413-496-6253.


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