Realignment moves Mohawk

The local football landscape will have a different look this fall.

On Friday morning, athletic directors from football schools in the Pioneer Valley Interscholastic Athletic Conference approved realignment for the four leagues in the Pioneer Valley on a vote of 29-1.

Mohawk Trail Regional High School was the lone local school making a move next season as it moves from the Intercounty League down to the Tri-County League. There was also a considerable shakeup among the teams in both the IL and TCL.

The IL will be saying goodbye to three teams in Mohawk, High School of Commerce and Springfield School of Science & Technology, which will abandon its program entirely and from a cooperative with Putnam Vocational Technical High School, which itself will move into the AA Conference.

Teams have 30 days to appeal the new alignment. West Springfield High School (the lone “No” vote) will issue an appeal to remain in the Suburban League rather than move to the AA.

Mohawk will be asking for no such appeal. The move to the TCL, while not an easy decision by the school, was obvious to the board of athletic directors in charge of drawing up the draft for the new league alignments. The board took a look at things like four-year records of all teams in the PVIAC, as well as travel and division alignment when drawing up the new leagues. Mohawk, with a 15-25 record in the past four seasons, has one of the four worst records of any school in the Pioneer Valley. Other factors for the move is that like all the other teams in the TCL, Mohawk will compete in the Division VI playoffs next season. The fact that the school has struggled with numbers sealed the decision. According to Mohawk athletic director Fred Redeker, Warrior coach Jim Smith and his assistants agreed that the move may help the program be more competitive and possibly rejuvenate the team.

“We didn’t really want to make the move, but it was proposed and it just made sense in order for us to be more competitive given our numbers,” Redeker explained. “We’ve just been struggling for a little while and Coach Smith and his assistants thought it was probably for the best.”

The Warriors will continue playing rival Frontier Regional School in the yearly Thanksgiving Eve game, and Redeker said that if the school can ask for relief in two years if it would like to have the alignment reassessed. Frontier coach Scott Dredge said that it is unfortunate to lose the rivals from the division.

“Losing Mohawk is definitely a bummer,” he said. “But when I look at what’s been happening in terms of school population, I can understand. It will be sad losing them because they were among the originals along with us.”

Taking the place of the three departures will be Easthampton High School, which has been a dominant force in the TCL of late, as well as Ludlow High School, which had recently been moved down to the TCL from the Suburban League. Cathedral High School, which was most recently in the SL, is the third team joining the IL after being the worst team in the SL of late.

“I’m glad to see Easthampton join,” Dredge said. “They have a strong program, and the Commerce move should have happened a while ago, that was a no-brainer.”

With TCL will remain the same size next season with the addition of a new team in Smith Vocational & Agricultural High School, which forms a program for the upcoming season and will co-op with Smith Academy.

There is one other item that could possibly cause the board to look further at the alignments. Because the Monson and Palmer school systems currently co-op their youth programs, Palmer High School, which currently resides in the TCL, has applied for a co-op with Monson High School. Monson most recently was involved in a co-op with Pathfinder Regional High School.

For a look at the new league alignments see today’s Scoreboard Page.

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