By Phil Anastasia
St. Augustine Prep, Vineland and Ocean City will move to the American Division in a re-aligned Cape Atlantic League for the 2014-15 football seasons.
The CAL will play the 2013 season under its current format, in which those three teams are members of the less-competitive National Division.
But starting next season, the league will re-align based strictly on enrollment with one exception -- perenniel power St. Joseph, the conference's smallest school, will remain in the American Division.
Holy Spirit, which has won three consecutive Non-Public state title but has been hit by declining enrollment that could impact the competitiveness of the football program, will move down to the National Division along with Oakcrest.
"It was a pretty smooth process," said Mainland athletic director Mike Gatley, the CAL president. "Our re-alignment committee got the football coaches involved and that helped out tremendously."
Under the format, American Division teams will receive a full nine-game schedule, while National Division teams will receive an eight-game schedule. National Division teams will need to arrange a non-conference game for a ninth game.
There will be one cross-over game between divisions, maintaining rivalries such as Holy Spirit vs. Atlantic City.
In addition, St. Joseph is expect to maintain its rivalry with Hammonton, which is moving to the Tri-County Conference (and West Jersey Football League) for the 2014 season.
St. Augustine Prep won the Cape National with an 8-0 record last season and the Hermits are projected as strong favorites to win the division again this season.
St. Augustine coach Mark Reardon believes the move to the American Division will benefit his efforts to strengthen the program.
"I would have liked the flexibility to schedule a non-conference game but all in all it worked out fine," Reardon said. "At least we will have some power points."
Here are the CAL division alignments for 2014-15:
American: Absegami, Atlantic City, Egg Harbor Township, Mainland, Millville, Ocean City, St. Augustine Prep, St. Joseph and Vineland.
National: Bridgeton, Buena, Cedar Creek, Holy Spirit, Lower Cape May, Middle Township, Oakcrest and Pleasantville.
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