Athletic directors from the Tri-County Conference are scheduled to vote this morning on a proposal that would make significant changes to the football schedule in 2009.
Clearview athletic director Greg Horton, the president of the conference, said yesterday the Tri-County is looking at a possible three-division arrangement that could result in some teams meeting twice in the regular season.
"That's one possibility," Horton said.
The arrangement will apply only to the 2009 season. Many school officials around South Jersey expect significant changes in football scheduling and perhaps conference alignment to go into effect for 2010.
"Something has to give," Horton said.
The Tri-County Conference is in a unique situation because of the wide spread of school sizes, especially in the Royal Division. This past season, Group 1 Woodstown played in the Royal, which also includes Group 4 Williamstown, as well as Group 3 Clearview, Kingsway, Cumberland, Highland and Deptford, Group 2 Delsea, and Non-Public 3 Gloucester Catholic.
Woodstown was competitive in many games and finished with a 4-6 record. But Woodstown officials have expressed a reluctance to play in the Royal again next season, according to Horton.
In addition, Williamstown's playoff position was compromised because the Braves received so few power points from its victory over Woodstown.
Williamstown was 8-0 at the cutoff but earned just the No. 5 seed. The Braves played at 7-1 Washington Township, the No. 4 seed, and lost, 28-24.
"Williamstown should not have been a No. 5 with an 8-0 record," Horton said.
Complicating matters for the Tri-County, Clayton and Wildwood have asked for schedule relief that would allow those teams to play a less-competitive schedule while they attempt to rebuild their programs.
"There's some give-and-take involved here," Horton said. "You hope everybody will do what's best for the conference."
The conference is looking at a three-division format that would mirror the Royal division, Diamond division and Classic division arrangement that operates in other sports, with some adjustments.
Glassboro, the two-time South Jersey Group 1 champion with a 24-game winning streak, could be placed in the middle division and play Gloucester Catholic, as well as Williamstown.
Some teams might play each other twice. And given the playoff format, it's even possible that two teams could meet three times - twice in the regular season and once in the state tournament.
Horton said a simply majority vote will be needed to pass the proposal.
With the conference in the middle of a two-year scheduling cycle, Horton said the Tri-County is just trying to "patchwork" the 2009 football schedule, with the knowledge that drastic changes could be in store in 2010.
"We're just trying to figure out a way to be as fair and equitable as possible for next season," Horton said. "We know things are going to break after next year."