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VIFL Remains As It Is

Woodstock's Nate Fegard, center, and Oliver Kaija pursue Mill River's Mark Goyette in the championship game on Nov. 18, 2013. (Valley News - Elijah Nouvelage)

Woodstock's Nate Fegard, center, and Oliver Kaija pursue Mill River's Mark Goyette in the championship game on Nov. 18, 2013. (Valley News - Elijah Nouvelage)

White River Junction — After lengthy discussions about realignment and rescheduling, the member schools of the Vermont Interscholastic Football League voted to do neither in their fall meeting held Monday at Hartford High School.

The concern was for some of the smaller schools in Vermont that have to deal with tiny numbers and a schedule that offers them little chance of winning football games.

“I have 10 players coming back,” said Winooski coach Jim Safran, whose only Division III victory this past fall came against winless Springfield. “We’re not trying to win championships. We’re trying to be competitive.”

Vermont currently has 33 schools playing in three divisions, and Safran was hoping to see the state go to four divisions.

“It’s a coin flip whether we are going to have a football team each year,” said Safran.

While there was much sympathy for Safran and the Winooski situation, the vote to realign went 15-13 against.

A point Safran made that seemed to be receptive to the group was the discussion about teams dropping to Division III just because they don’t win in Division II.

“We should do what we can to stop those Division II teams from dropping down just so they can be successful,” said BFA-Fairfax coach Mike Williams. “If you belong in Division II, you should stay in Division II. It’s not how many games you win or lose, it’s about being fair.”

“We’re going to end up just like Montpelier,” said Safran of the Solons, who didn’t field a varsity team this year. “If we could get back to four divisions, maybe we could get Montpelier back.”

The rescheduling issue also brought out a chorus of disagreement, particularly about some of the scores.

“I thought some of those scores were from basketball games,” said Mount St. Joseph head coach Jeff Cassarino. “There’s no reason for anybody to score 70-80 points. I remember coming to this meeting 10 years ago and we were talking about the same thing.”

The vote to reschedule was beaten back 16-6 with five voters abstaining.

Because Vermont football is the middle of a two-year cycle, VIFL executive secretary Bob Hingston said the 2014 schedule will remain the same. “We’ll take another look at it for 2015,” he said.

In other news, Mickey Heinecken of the National Football Foundation said that the attendance at Saturday’s North-South Game at Middlebury College attracted the biggest crowd ever. He added that Union-32 coach Brian Divebloss will coach the North next year, with Otter Valley’s Jim Hill guiding the South.

There was also some discussion about perhaps playing the game on a Sunday because the lack of field availability at the Vermont colleges. After several schools mentioned that their players would not be allowed to play on Sunday, the discussion ended.

Swanton’s Missisquoi Regional is starting football with a junior varsity schedule in the fall; Heinecken suggested that member schools should do what they could to see if they had extra equipment to give to the Thunderbirds’ program. The NFF, with approval from the coaches, will give Missisquoi $700 to help the team get going.

Sportsmanship awards went to Woodstock (south) and Rice (north).

Although nothing was resolved, there was considerable discussion about the quality point rating system that led to much confusion last fall after it was discovered, nearly at the end of the season, that QPR in league games mattered in Division II while overall QPR applied in divisions I and III.

Hingston apologized for the confusion, but what bothered Otter Valley’s Hill, whose Otters play in D-II, is that he was handicapped for playing tough teams out of his league and losing points.

“We were punished for playing good teams,” he said. “That doesn’t seem right.”