Bowing to the wishes of a majority of league coaches unsatisfied with the sacrifices needed to maintain a conference championship, the FCIAC Board of Directors has voted to play a 10-game regular season schedule next year, the limit set by the CIAC.
In order to accommodate that, the FCIAC will no longer hold a league final, which would count as one of the 10 games for the two teams involved.
This year, with the CIAC already mandating a bye for all schools, 16 of the 17 conference members played just nine games — Bridgeport opted out of being eligible for the final — and that was because Darien and New Canaan, which met for the title, were already scheduled to play on that day.
Thus, this year’s 50th FCIAC championship game, which was won by the Blue Wave, for now will be the last.
“I’d rather play 10 games, so be it with the championship,” said St. Joseph coach Joe Della Vecchia, who through a quirk in the schedule had a bye the first two weeks.
Most coaches were upset with the league-imposed bye that caused it to start a week later than the rest of the state, in addition to the CIAC bye. According to one source, 15 of the 17 coaches were in favor of the schedule change.
The league’s 17 teams will again be divided into two divisions. Schools will play every divisional opponent plus two crossover games, including the traditional Thanksgiving rivalry contests.
The eight teams in the East Division — Darien, Danbury, McMahon, Warde, Wilton, Staples, Stamford and St. Joseph — will have an open week and can schedule a non-conference opponent for their 10th games.
“I’m definitely all for 10 games. Now I have to find a 10th game,” Della Vecchia said.
Among the highlights for the opening week, which will be held the weekend of Sept. 9 and 10, Darien will travel to St. Joseph, New Canaan will play at Trinity Catholic — the two divisional opponents did not meet this year — and Ridgefield hosts Trumbull.
The second so-called Marinelli Bowl, pitting New Canaan, coached by Lou Marinelli, against Greenwich, coached by Marinelli’s son John, will be held the weekend of Oct. 21-22 in New Canaan.
All 17 schools will have their state-mandated bye on the weekend of Oct. 7-8.