Football: Cape-Atlantic realigns by strength of program


It's the strong and the weak.

It's one of the best divisions in SJ football and one of the worst.

That wasn't an accident by the Cape-Atlantic League. After much debate and internal wrangling, the league announced a re-alignment for football today that divides the conferences into a heavyweight division and bantamweight division.

There's no other way to look at the set-up, since the league's re-alignment committee added up the power points earned by teams over the last two seasons and simply divided the league in half -- top nine teams in power points are in the American Division and bottom nine are in the National Division.

That means St. Joseph of Hammonton has moved up to the American Division, while St. Augustine Prep -- basically, a Group 4 team and one with aspirations of competing with the best prorgrams in the state -- was relegated to the National Division.

Here's the set up:

American Division (in order of power points earned in the 2010 and 2011 seasons: Holt Spirit, Hammonton, St. Joseph, Millville, Atlantic City, Egg Harbor, Oakcrest, Absegami and Mainland.

National Division (again, in order of power points over the last two seasons): Lower Cape May, Bridgeton, St. Augustine, Vineland, Buena, Ocean City, Cedar Creek, Middle Township and Pleasantville.

The teams will play one cross-over game, with the No. 1 team in the American playing the No. 1 team in the National (Holy Spirit vs. Lower Cape May), the No. 2 team playing the No. 2 team, and so forth (that means No. 3 St. Joseph plays No. 3 St. Augustine).

No public school will play all three non-publics (which had been the case under an old proposed that had Hammonton playing all three).

Traditional Thanksgiving rivalries will be preserved, which means Hammonton will play St. Joseph on that weekend -- although this time it could be for the American Division title.

It's a step up in schedule for a team such as St. Joe. The Wildcats will play Hammonton, Millville and Holy Spirit -- the sectional or state finalists from last season. And they get the best program in the watered-down National in St. Augustine Prep.

The American could be one of the best races in SJ. The National? Not so much.

The schedule likely will be announced next week.

The alignment is for the 2012 and 2013 football seasons.

By 2014, the Cape-Atlantic could merge with the West Jersey Football League to form an expanded super conference that could greatly impact division alignments and schedules.

 -- Phil Anastasia