By Joseph Staszewski
The Catholic High School Football League is undergoing a makeover to its structure and schedule.
The league announced last week it combined its clubs into one 22-team division, adding Nazareth and Kennedy Catholic, of Somers. It is similar to a system used in 2005.
The CHSFL thought the move needed to be made because of increased competition between the top of what was the Class AA-A division and the bottom of the AAA league. Xavier and St. John the Baptist, two teams from the lower division, reached the Class AA final last season.
“The competition level forced us to do it,” league President Chris Hardardt said. “There are a lot of teams in the middle of the league that have the ability to play at the highest level. This gives them an opportunity to do that.”
The teams’ schedules and playoff fates will be decided by a power-point system like it had been done in the ‘AAA’ division. The top nine teams will get bonus points for playing tougher schedules. The top eight teams make that ‘AAA’ playoffs, the next eight are in the ‘AA’ and the final four are in the ‘A’.
“We were trying to help teams in the middle,” said Holy Cross Coach Tom Pugh, who is on the league’s executive committee.
Last season teams in the 8-12 spots in the AAA finished with two wins each during the regular season. The top clubs in the AA-A — St. Francis Prep and St. John the Baptist —went 7-0 and 6-1. The hope is to have more competitive games.
“The league just got better by doing this,” Christ the King Coach Tyree Allison said.
The bottom two clubs do not make the playoffs. Christ the King reached the Class A final after finishing second to last a year ago, but the programs were against a potential bye week. It makes every game even more meaningful.
“I think it’s more competitive through all levels,” Allison said. “You don’t want to be those bottom two teams.”
All the teams are able to move up into higher playoff brackets, but the top 12 teams cannot move down to the ‘A’ in order to preserve the level of competition.
“I think it’s good for everybody,” Pugh said. “If I was in the spot [in the middle], I’d be happy. You get a better feeling.”