The FCIAC, to the lament of many, last held a football championship five years ago. Could a revised schedule brought on by the coronavirus pandemic bring back a beloved game?
It’s possible, said FCIAC commissioner Dave Schulz yesterday, after the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference finalized its plans for the fall season, which were announced in a release to the media this afternoon.
With practices set to begin on Sept. 11 and games 13 days later, an abbreviated schedule and the constraints of regionalized play could very well mean all 16 FCIAC teams will be limited to conference play this fall.
Football teams will be allowed to play six regular-season games under the CIAC’s guidelines for this season, while the limit will be 12 for teams in all other sports. The period from Nov. 2-15 will be used for what the board is calling “a tournament experience” that still needs to be formatted. Based on a schedule that was to be released yesterday and then was revised, it is expected that will add two more games or meets.
All teams regardless of record will be allowed to participate to give them the chance to play the maximum number of contests.
Schulz said there would be an emphasis on league games. Travel to a number of schools would be difficult for teams outside the conference. And it would be natural for all league teams to play each other during the regular season and then hold FCIAC playoffs.
In football, for example, schools could play six league games, with the four best advancing to play for the league title. Semifinal losers could meet in a consolation games, with the other 12 teams paired up for their final games.
“We could,” Schulz said of the scenario. “We are looking at that possibility. We have to get approval from our schools. We are going to try and get as much of a league experience as we can.”
That same format would work in a number of other sports.
Football rivarly games, usually played on Thanksgiving, could be held Columbus Day Weekend — in all sports. Or, with all the uncertainty about the season, on the opening weekend.
Schulz said the conference had already put together a loose schedule that needs to be fine-tuned. There will be meetings on Monday with the CIAC and other league commissioners. Conferences in the same region could work out arrangements for postseason play. Schulz said the league’s executive board planned to meet on Tuesday and the FCIAC schedule could be unveiled as early as Wednesday.
The regular season is scheduled to end on Oct. 30.
The first conditioning practices, in cohorts of 15, will begin on Aug. 17 in football and 10 days later in all other sports. The first day of full teams and contact will be Sept. 11. Scrimmages can be held starting on Sept. 18.
Schulz said that in the case where several schools have outbreaks due to COVID-19, the FCIAC could follow major league baseball and allow two schools whose opponents were forced to quarantine to play one another.
“That’s the thing, there is a lot of flexibility,” Schulz said.
One rumor with football has teams playing a six-game schedule regionally based on class size, followed by two rounds of playoffs. The sport could also maintain its current format in a condensed and regional version.
The last FCIAC football championship was held in 2015, with Darien defeating New Canaan. The game was then abandoned when the CIAC limited the number of games teams could play.
St. Joseph, whose only appearance was a loss to New Canaan in 2013, is the reigning No. 1 team in the state.
With a strong returning cast and a unique schedule in the process of being cobbled together, the Cadets may get another chance at their first FCIAC title in the sport.