Schools seek football alternatives while Meriden gets closer to club teams
Though full-contact club football remains unpopular, one city is close to getting on the field.
Meriden on Thursday granted Maloney and Platt permission to play 11-on-11 football in the city this fall, provided state daily test rates remain under 5 percent and that teams follow a list of guidelines. The city also said a positive test deemed to have exposed the team will force the entire team into a 14-day quarantine.
The plan still needs Board of Education approval next week, reported the Record-Journal, which first reported the schools’ intention to play.
The CIAC reaffirmed on Sept. 16 that sanctioned 11-on-11 high school football was canceled for the fall. The state’s Department of Public Health wouldn’t give the CIAC its recommendation to play the full-contact version of the sport, saying it was high-risk for transmitting the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19.
As CIAC executive director Glenn Lungarini said on Sept. 16, the decision left the door open for club or independent teams, if they could come together and could get local approval. Youth football has been allowed under the state’s reopening guidelines since July 6.
“Look, (the National Federation of State High School Associations) has said football this fall is a high-risk activity. Our Department of Public Health has said it’s a high-risk activity,” Gov. Ned Lamont said at a Thursday press briefing.
“We’ve seen some sports-related flare-ups already around the state, but look, I’m being consistent in the sense, at the end of the day, I’m going to leave that decision up to local jurisdictions, the superintendents and the coaches.”
He added that flare-ups would force schools to close.
Meanwhile, schools continue to consider lower-risk sanctioned replacements for football this fall.
The Southern Connecticut Conference is moving forward with plans to start a 7-on-7 football league some time in October.
League commissioner Al Carbone said Hamden athletic director and football coach Tom Dyer and Daniel Hand athletic director Craig Semple will put together a proposal for league principals to review hopefully by Monday. This was determined after a virtual league meeting held Thursday night.
“Based off the initial feedback, most of them (league principals) wanted to see a proposal,” Carbone said. “The kids are the ones who want to do this. A couple of the coaches raised that point tonight that, ‘We are doing what our kids want us to do.’ That’s a great point.”
Carbone said among the participants who joined Thursday’s meeting were the New Haven schools, Fairfield Prep, Bassick and Harding.
“The coaches were not in a hurry. They want to make sure this is the right way to go about it. Do we start next weekend or the weekend after?” Carbone said. “This is a voluntary league. It’s something for our football players to get some kind of experience in the fall.”
The ECC’s “alternative football” schedule began Wednesday. The league has 13 teams playing 7-on-7 games with lineman challenges, and 10 teams will be in action Friday night.
The FCIAC’s athletic directors on Wednesday approved a plan for 7-on-7 games with a strength challenge.
The hope for many players remained some kind of chance at 11-on-11 football in the fall. Club football would have at least some sanction and support from the school, while independent football wouldn’t. Independent teams could draw from different schools or districts.
Superintendents (or those to whom they delegated a response) representing 18 local schools responded to questions from Hearst Connecticut Media reporters the past three days about their schools’ plans regarding independent or club football. Only two said club football was under consideration, and it did not sound like the preferred option for either.
An email signed by Greenwich superintendent Toni Jones and athletic director Gus Lindine said the town sought a legal opinion on sponsoring a club team.
“While CIAC made some statements about private club football sponsorship, the school district cannot (by legal opinion) conduct a club sport with full contact football against the direction of the Connecticut Department of Health,” the email said.
“The local Greenwich Department of Health must uphold by law a directive from the CT DPH. GPS did seek a legal opinion so that we could provide factual information to our football student-athletes and families.”
Only two respondents (the same two) said allowing independent players to use school equipment was even a possibility. Separately, Shelton’s Board of Education tabled discussion Wednesday night on whether to allow outside teams to use school equipment.