Below is my story that ran in today’s paper about the changes that were adopted in Section 1 football for the 2011 season. Administrators hope these changes slow the exodus of teams to the alternative league and that the new league and playoff structure are in place long-term.
I’ll have further details throughout the day. For now, check out today’s story by clicking here or reading below:
Amid growing concern from administrators about the increasing number of football programs that opted for alternative scheduling in recent years, Section 1 has adopted widespread changes to its league and playoff structure for the 2011 season — and perhaps beyond.
At the urging of many superintendents, Section 1 created a subcommittee this offseason that was charged with creating a new football structure to slow the exodus. That structure was officially adopted by the section’s executive committee last Friday.
It will include a return to the Piner System to rank teams in all classes and divide them into leagues. An S-curve will then be used to create more equitable scheduling.
“This is not something that we’re going to rework every year,” said Horace Greeley athletic director and Class A football chairman Steve Young, a member of the subcommittee. “When the executive committee approved this, this wasn’t a one-year deal.”
The new league and playoff structures still will need to be approved annually, but Young believes the system — particularly the Piner System — will work best over multiple years.
Jennifer Simmons, Section 1’s executive director, did not return multiple phone and e-mail messages seeking comment.
The subcommittee has begun work on a questionnaire that will be filled out by every Section 1 program. It will create a mathematical formula to rank teams within their classification based on criteria such as recent records and returning starters.
Although the 14 schools that participated in alternative scheduling last season are not guaranteed to return, at least one athletic director considered the approved proposal a game-changer.
“If the section had stayed the way it was, we were fine with where we were going,” said Tappan Zee athletic director Liam Frawley, whose team won the Class A alternative league last season. “It wasn’t being rebellious. We were doing what was right for our kids and our program. The fact that the section stood up and took notice … it pushed the first domino that came to this.”
Class A adopted the Piner System in 2003, and Class B adopted it in 2003 and chose to retain it in 2004. But those modified systems had been dismissed until now.
Administrators believe stronger adherence over time will create equitable scheduling. The Piner System has been a success on Long Island, where it was created.
Still, coaches expressed some reticence.
“We’re excited about S-curve,” said Arlington coach Dominick DeMatteo, son of Somers coach Tony DeMatteo. “I’m just worried about how they’re going to rank the teams.”
Less than two weeks ago, coaches were upset about far more than that. They were unaware of the new proposal as a vote neared last month. Snow forced a postponement of the first vote.
Coaches learned that part of the proposal was cutting the Class AA and Class A playoffs from eight teams to four in order to restore a six-game league schedule and a “rivalry week.” With S-curve scheduling, the “rivalry week” was created to guarantee some of Section 1’s most storied rivalries would continue without tinkering with the leagues.
Coaches stressed to their athletic directors the need for eight-team playoffs in Classes AA and A, where there are 45 total teams. According to Young, the subcommittee heard those calls during meetings with ADs and amended its proposal.
To ensure an eight-team playoff, Class AA and Class A will hold quarterfinal, semifinal and championship games in an 11-day span. The scheduling quirk has been utilized by the section in the past, but the executive committee approved a return to the format with one caveat: that students are not granted early dismissal for midweek playoff games.
It is a detail New Rochelle coach Lou DiRienzo can live with. As president of the coaches association, DiRienzo had appealed to the powers-that-be in Section 1 to restore a 10th game for teams that compete in championships.
This has been the only section in the state over the last two seasons where the finalists played just nine games within the section.
“I think the more football that kids in Section 1 can play, the better off they are,” DiRienzo said. “It’s a step in the right direction getting the 10th game back.”
The need for an eight-team playoff struck a chord with DiRienzo. His 2003 New Rochelle team qualified for the playoffs as the No. 5 seed in Class AA after losing its season opener to White Plains. It went on to win the only state championship in program history.
DiRienzo doesn’t mind possibly playing three games in 11 days to achieve the other changes, which he considers victories.
“I think whether you’re talking about marriage, whatever you’re talking about, you have to give to get,” DiRienzo said.
“If we can have an eight-team playoff and a 10th game and the rivalry game, then you have to do it.”