By MICHAEL LETENDRE
PLAINVILLE – Over the last three weeks, I’ve been dissecting the question of whether of not Plainville should remain a part of the Central Connecticut Conference in its Southern division.
Being one of the smallest schools the CCC has to offer, would it be best for the Blue Devils program to find greener pastures and move on?
Is it smart just to stand pat and hope the inner workings of the CCC put together its conferences with size in mind – like it did with football?
You’ve seen how some of Plainville sport’s programs have done very well in the CCC South while others have certainly struggled.
It is time to make a change or should Blue Devils’ athletics stand pat and just deal with being a small fish in a pretty sizable pond?
I’ve been around the CCC South for a long time now and I think I have an answer for Plainville.
And the long anticipated – and thought provoking – answer is: Move on to the NCCC, the North Central Connecticut Conference.
And the time is now, like yesterday in fact.
My logic is quite simple.
With Avon moving into the CCC in a year, it’s time for the NCCC to find someone else to fill that void.
Plus, isn’t Enfield getting out of the NCCC when the Enfield schools merge together?
It’s the perfect time!
Yes, there will be some travel involved in getting to some of the schools within the conference but these are the current squads of the NCCC and class size (again, there are exceptions thanks to football co-ops and the like…): Avon, Class L; Bolton, Class S; Canton, Class S; Coventry, Class S; East Granby, Class S; East Windsor, Class S; Ellington, Class M; Enfield, Class M; Granby Memorial, Class M; SMSA, Class S; Somers, Class S; Stafford, Class S; Suffield, Class M; Windsor Locks, Class S.
Just remember, Avon is out and Enfield is probably leaving with the Enrico Fermi merger as they become one school.
This is the perfect division for Plainville in terms of size and in terms of competition, the NCCC has top-notch squads that will challenge the Blue Devils on every level.
Take a look at the size of the NCCC – made up of mostly Class S sized schools with a little Class M and L mixed in for good measure.
If you think it’s too far to travel to all these glamorous NCCC locations, consider Plainville – from time to time – could (or has) traveled to beautiful locations such as Enfield (Fermi), Vernon (Rockville), and don’t forget Edwin O. Smith High School next to the UConn campus.
The NCCC is a perfect place for Plainville athletics to grow and establish itself.
Between football, basketball and baseball (don’t forget, the Stafford baseball coach is Plainville’s own Scott Martin), the balance would make sense no matter what team the Blue Devils played.
Folks, something has to give here because the current formula in the CCC – outside of football, perhaps – isn’t working.
In fact, take a look at the current make-up of the CCC.
Once again, each school’s Class is included as well (some schools have ‘duel citizenship’ in certain sports…):
Berlin, Class M/L; Bloomfield, Class S/M; Bristol Central, Class L/LL; Bristol Eastern, Class L; Bulkeley, Class L; Conard, Class LL; E.O. Smith, Class L; East Catholic, Class S/M; East Hartford, Class LL; Farmington, Class L; Fermi, Class M/L; Glastonbury, Class LL; Hall, Class LL; Hartford Public, Class LL; Maloney, Class L; Manchester, Class LL; Middletown, Class L; New Britain, Class LL; Newington, Class LL; Northwest Catholic, Class S/M; Plainville, Class S/M; Platt, Class L; RHAM, Class L; Rockville, Class M/L; Rocky Hill, Class S/M; Simsbury, Class LL; South Windsor, Class LL; Southington, Class LL; Tolland, Class M/L; Weaver, Class S/M; Wethersfield, Class L; Windsor, Class L.
Plainville is the smallest school in the CCC South and everyone else is bigger, which includes Class LL Bristol Central.
Why should Plainville compete against a Class LL school in anything?
There are only, really, six Class S schools in the CCC and two of them are Catholic schools (Northwest and East Catholic).
Out of the remaining four Class S schools: Weaver is on the verge of extinction and how Rocky Hill and Bloomfield survive in the league is anyone’s guess.
But in baseball alone this past season, the Blue Devils were challenged by Class LL giants Southington, Conard and East Hartford in CCC Interdivisional action.
It’s wrong and truly too crazy to even comprehend Plainville in that situation in the first place.
I think it’s time to get away from the CCC format.
How about the NVL?
What about following Bristol’s St. Paul and venture into the Naugatuck Valley League?
Wouldn’t that be a better fit than a move to the NCCC?
Let’s look at the NVL line-up:
- Ansonia, Class S/M; Crosby, Class LL; Derby, Class S; Holy Cross, Class S/M; Kennedy, Class LL; Naugatuck, Class L/LL; Sacred Heart, Class S; Seymour, Class S; St. Paul Catholic, Class S; Torrington, Class L; Watertown, Class M/L; Wilby, Class LL; Wolcott, Class M; Woodland, Class S/M
While there’s no Class LL team to tangle with in the NCCC, the NVL has four of them plus a couple Class L’s in there to boot.
The NVL is a pretty big league and, frankly, I was surprised when St. Paul went there in the first place instead of trying to go to the NCCC.
And who wants to play Ansonia in football anyways?
Plus the fact, Plainville would have to eventually compete against those Class LL schools and why would you want to do that?
It also sounds like there is a possibility – according to my Bristol/Ansonia source – that a team or two from the Bridgeport area might join the conference within the coming years.
Between adding those big Bridgeport schools to the mix, plus a long drive down to the end of Route 8, I don’t see that as a possibility.
The key is keeping Plainville away from those Class LL giants.
If Plainville has to drive to a state tournament challenge in Bridgeport, that’s one thing.
This league isn’t the right fit either.
You just can’t do that in the NVL with both the Copper and Brass Divisions containing those bigger schools.
The St. Paul Effect
Remember when the Northwest Conference teams wanted in on the CCC as early as 1996?
It took years to happen but when it did, St. Paul was a huge sticking point to the merger.
Since it couldn’t support freshmen sports (boy, we’ve come full circle on that, haven’t we?), the CCC wasn’t interested in the Falcons.
And, unfortunately for St. Paul in football this coming season, the Falcons will start the year with 34 total players – 12 of whom are freshmen – and that’s never a good thing.
Do I have any point for this seemingly ridiculous story?
Yes, and it’s the CCC is a big school league – always has been, always will – and if you’re Plainville, Rocky Hill, Weaver, or what have you, compete if you can and deal with competing against those Class LL venues.
Forget that logic.
What about the Berkshire League?
Did someone mention the Berkshire League?
Is that an even viable possibility?
Take a look at the teams:
Gilbert, Class S; Housatonic Regional, Class S; Lewis Mills, Class M; Litchfield, Class S; Nonnewaug, Class M; Northwestern, Class M; Shepaug Valley, Class S; Terryville, Class S; Thomaston, Class S; Wamogo, Class S
It’s a 10-team league as it stands now, so who moves out?
Adding an eleventh team doesn’t make sense at this point in time.
Plus, I’m not a big fan of the league in terms of out-of-conference scheduling.
Those teams rarely, if ever, play outside the lines of the Berkshire League conference itself and that’s a big deal to me.
You need to see teams outside of your own conference for the sake of state tournament preparation and while the league has improved in that aspect somewhat, it’s truly not enough of a change.
While the size and fit would be right for Plainville, the competition won’t get the Blue Devils ready for the postseason unless you play the Terryville boys basketball, softball, or girls volleyball teams all the time.
Plainville needs to get out of the CCC as soon as possible and with Avon leaving the NCCC after this scholastic year, it’s time to make a jump.
The Blue Devils should attempt to get into that outstanding league and would be ultra-competitive within it.
Look, the Blue Devils tried the Colonial Conference back in the 1970s and it didn’t work.
The Northwest Conference was a great idea but in the end, maybe it got too Catholic (get it? Plainville should never compete against schools that offer scholarships).
So Plainville, for crying out loud, make the change.
Just get ready to sharpen your lacrosse sticks and prepare for Ultimate Frisbee if you join in the NCCC.
Comments? Email mletendre@BristolObserver.com.