It’s been something talked about on the Avon High athletic fields for years – the potential of Avon moving to the larger Central Connecticut Conference to get more competition on the field and in some cases the opportunity to play more games.
Talk became reality on Thursday night when the CCC voted to admit Avon as the league’s 33rd member beginning in the fall of 2015.
How will this affect the teams in Avon? For some, it will be a big step in competition. Some will do just fine. Others will struggle. Will Avon win some divisional championships? Yes. Will they win many conference tournaments? Not as many as they have won in the NCCC.
For the last seven years, Avon has been the largest school in the NCCC by a large margin. It hasn’t guaranteed multiple conference titles but it hasn’t hurt. Eight of the current 13 schools in the NCCC are Class S schools while the remaining four are Class M.
In the past year, Avon has won eight conference titles in field hockey, girls cross country, girls basketball, girls indoor track, wrestling, boys lacrosse, girls track and boys tennis along with the girls golf winning the Southern Connecticut Girls Golf League. Avon fields teams in 23 sports.
Avon’s girls soccer team hasn’t won a conference title since 2008. However, in a four-year span (2009-12), Avon played in four straight Class L finals and won twice. The boys soccer team hasn’t won a league title since 2010 but they played in the state final in 2012. Both programs should be very competitive in the CCC.
Avon’s football team has played in the Pequot Conference for the last eight years. They won five Uncas Division titles and had two undefeated regular seasons (10-0). Avon qualified for the Class L playoffs three times.
Can football compete in the CCC? Sure, especially if the CCC continues to group schools together by enrollment as they do today. But they will certainly be fewer uncompetitive games with contests essentially over by halftime. The Pequot Conference was originally formed for the smallest schools in the state and Avon has certainly outgrown it.
Avon may get the chance to renew its long football rivalry with Farmington that ended nearly a decade ago in 2005 when Avon began playing in the Pequot Conference. From 1976 to 2005, the two schools played each year in the final game of the regular season. And perhaps, Avon will see Tolland again. The two schools had a spirited rivalry on the gridiron in the Pequot until Tolland moved to the CCC in 2009.
The CCC will iron out the details of placing Avon into the league and any possible realignment in the next few months.
In basketball, Avon’s two programs will be challenged in the CCC. That’s just fine with girls coach Frank Waters and boys coach Chris Vozzolo, who have been scheduling large schools for their non-conference games the past few years to help prepare their squads for the Class L tournament.
The boys swimming program, which has been competing as an independent for the last few years, will get a new home when Avon joins the CCC. The girls golf team will also find a home in the CCC. Avon’s co-op hockey team with Farmington and Windsor is already competing in the CCC.
However, life in the CCC is over 18 months away. Avon will compete for one more season in the NCCC and Pequot Conference in football. Many coaches in the NCCC won’t miss that game with Avon on their schedule, especially those teams that were just overwhelmed by the Falcons.
But Avon has been challenged over the years in the NCCC, especially by Suffield, Ellington and Granby – the larger schools in the league. Avon and Suffield have had some legendary battles on the soccer field. It will be one last time to renew those rivalries.
Granby and Avon have a competitive rivalry in boys and girls lacrosse. Avon and Ellington are the two of the top teams in tennis and track and field. Look for Avon and Coventry to battle in boys golf.
Everyone will be looking for last big win over the Falcons. The East Windsor boys basketball savored its victory over Avon this winter as they won their first league title since 1983.
Avon football fans don’t like to remember last year’s game with Canton. The Warriors marched 69 yards on nine plays and scored the winning touchdown on a six-yard run with no time left on the clock for a 16-13 victory. To Canton players and fans that have seen Avon prevail more times than they can count in football and other sports, it was a sweet, sweet victory.
“If there was one game I wanted to win in my high school career (it was this one),” said Canton QB Eric Scott. “I told the team I didn’t care if we win the rest of our games this year. I wanted to win this game right here. This means everything.”