CIAC football: Success modifier impacts state playoffs

Without a doubt, the greatest misfire of the ballyhooed addition of the FCIAC to the Connecticut Football Scheduling Alliance was the failure to get the 2018 Class LL and Class L teams together on a Friday night, somewhere, somehow in 2019.

Hand, which has won back-to-back Class L championships and finished No. 2 in last year’s final top 10, and Greenwich, last year’s Class LL champion and the reigning No. 1 team, really should be playing. If there was one game we had to get out of this alliance, that was it.

Sadly, it didn’t work out.

Never fear, football denizens. By December, we may have forgotten all about that lost mega-matchup anyway.

That’s because the 2019 CIAC football playoff divisions have been released, and your biggest takeaway: It doesn’t look like Hand’s road to a third-straight Class L will be so rosy.

Drew Pyne and New Canaan, last year’s Class LL runners up, have been dropped back to Class L after a year away.

And — and — perennial state champion St. Joseph, which comes in having won back-to-back titles in Class S (2017) and Class M (2018), will be competing in Class L, too.


Add those developments in with John Marinelli’s sudden departure as Greenwich’s head coach — creating some uncertainty, if not a power vacuum in Class LL — and, suddenly, the Class L playoffs are looking boss in 2019.

Whew. And we were getting a little worried around here.

This is the second year of the implementation of the tournament success modifier, which states that CIAC-designated schools of choice — schools that can draw from beyond their district borders either because they have an academic program that allows it or they’re a private school — will be moved up one playoff class from their designated enrollment if they’ve reached the semifinals the previous two years.

So, in this case, St. Joseph’s 390 male enrollment places it in M, up from S the last two seasons. But since the Hogs have won consecutive state championships, they’ve been bumped up one class, from M to L.

Same goes for Killingly, which is designated as a school of choice for its vo-ag program. The Redmen won the Class M title two years ago and reached last year’s M semifinals. Therefore, Killingly, a Class S school by enrollment, is once again bumped up to Class M.

Berlin, a choice school which has reached the Class M semifinals the past two years, has also been bumped up to Class L.

Those aren’t the only three programs affected by the success modifier for 2019.

Other intriguing moves include:

Class L semifinalist Platt and RHAM both dropping down to Class M; Hillhouse moving back up to Class L from M; Sheehan, Ledyard and Coginchaug/Hale Ray/East Hampton moving down from Class M to Class S and Valley Regional/Old Lyme moving back up to M. Naugatuck is one of three teams moving up to Class LL.

The CIAC has also approved several new co-op programs for 2019, including Granby Memorial/Canton, Griswold/Wheeler and Trinity Catholic/Wright Tech.

Important dates

Aug. 19: first day of conditioning for teams that did not conduct spring practice. Aug. 24: First day of pads. Aug. 28: First allowable scrimmage.

Aug. 23: first day of conditioning of spring practice teams. Aug. 29: First day of pads. Sept. 2: First allowable scrimmage.

Sept. 12: First games / Last day to add official games (3 p.m.)

Nov. 28: Last day to count.


Enrollments: 693 and over (35 teams)

Gains: Crosby, Harding, Naugatuck

Losses: New Canaan, Newington, South Windsor.

Dec. 3 — State quarterfinals; Dec. 8 state semifinals; Dec. 14 state championship games at TBA.


Enrollments: 514-692 (36 teams)

Gains: Berlin, Hillhouse, New Canaan, Newington, South Windsor, St. Joseph, Stratford.

Losses: Avon, Crosby, Harding, Naugatuck, Platt, RHAM.


Enrollments: 388-518 (35 teams)

Gains: Avon, Granby/Canton (new co-op), Griswold/Wheeler (new co-op), Platt, RHAM, Valley Regional/OL.

Losses: Berlin, Bacon Academy, Coginchaug/Hale Ray/East Hampton, Hillhouse, Ledyard, Sheehan, St. Joseph, Stratford.


Enrollments: Up to 387 (35 teams)

Gains: Amistad (new program), Bacon Academy, Coginchaug/Hale Ray/East Hampton, Ledyard, Sheehan

Losses: Canton and Granby (new co-op), Griswold (new co-op with Wheeler), Valley Regional/Old Lyme.