by MICHAEL LETENDRE
We’re about a month away from the fall scholastic sports season from taking off and it will be the fourth year of the thirty-two school format that makes up the Central Connecticut Conference.
The question is how successful has the new alignment been since the CCC opened its doors to six teams from the old Northwest Conference, Rocky Hill and Tolland to make the league thirty-two teams strong.
Well, the set up has been more than a little successful.
We all know the CCC is one of the oldest and largest leagues in the state and since 1984, the conference has been one of the most competitive around.
But after the division added the old NWC teams and the other two newest members, the CCC is the biggest scholastic league Connecticut has to offer.
And over the last campaign – the 2011-12 seasons – a number of CCC squads were not just division winners, but state champions.
In the fall of 2011, Tolland won both the boys and girls cross country state championships while in the winter, Windsor claimed the boys and girls championship in indoor track.
Springtime saw the Warriors take top honors in both boys and girls outdoor track.
In all, the CCC nearly brought home 30 state championships just last year alone.
And seven of those titles belong to former teams that came from the Northwest Conference.
The CCC South is certainly a balanced league and geographically and the travel makes sense.
When collectively looking at Bulkeley, Bristol Central, Bristol Eastern, Middletown, Maloney, Platt, Berlin and Plainville, the competition is balanced and top notched.
Plus, dropping the NWC format got Plainville away from the Northwest and East Catholic’s who could recruit and posed serious challenges to the Class M school every year.
With the two catholic schools, along with St. Paul, the clubs had an unfair advantage in most sports and, like such sports as basketball, the Blue Devils had trouble beating those squads on any kind of consistent basis.
Now, teams such as Marc Wesoly’s basketball squad, play public schools that are on the same level.
But some of the travel doesn’t make sense in the other CCC divisions.
In the CCC West, New Britain, Southington, Farmington, Conard and Newington makes sense but trips to Simsbury are little out of everybody’s way.
The CCC North is similarly balanced with squads like East Catholic, East Hartford, South Windsor and Windsor with just Wethersfield across the river on the opposite side.
The East is a little crazy too and that thanks in part to E.O. Smith of Storrs being part of the mix.
RHAM is also an adventure to get to and so is Fermi.
Poor Rocky Hill is near all sorts of highways but has to go to all corners of the map to get to Enfield, Hebron and Storrs.
But back to the CCC South, the league certainly boasts some quality talent.
The problem for Plainville is size when it comes to CCC South showdowns.
The Devils might be the smallest squad – school-wise – to compete in the South on a nightly basis but Plainville has already had success in the league.
Plainville was one of those 29 teams to capture a state championship, winning the Class M baseball title just this past spring.
Then there was the rise of the Plainville boys soccer team over the past two seasons as the Blue Devils were back-to-back champions in 2010-11.
Keep in mind, the Blue Devils only lost one CCC South match all season long in boys soccer and while other leagues supposedly had better teams and were always higher in the rankings than Plainville, it didn’t mean a thing in the end.
The Naugatuck Valley League boasted to have better squads and superior players but in the Class M tourney in 2011, when the Blue Devils smashed Watertown 2-1 on November 14, the CCC South had won that one in grand fashion.
The grind of regular season showdowns the CCC takes part in makes the teams of the league ready for any and all postseason challenges.
It certainly aided the Plainville baseball team along the way and for years to come, the Central Connecticut Conference should continue to thrive, preparing its athletes for the collegian ranks and once again is the premier league in the state.