By Phil Anastasia
The Colonial Conference has voted down a projected alliance with the Cape-Atlantic League for football, The Inquirer has learned.
The vote was 7-5 against the alliance. A vote of 8-4 in favor was needed to approve an arrangement that would have created cross-over games between the two leagues in the 2014 and 2015 seasons.
Colonial Conference president Lou Raba, the athletic director at Gateway, said the league has decided to institute a new arrangement for cross-over games in 2014, focusing on matching teams of similar competitive strength.
In the new format, the Colonial will rank teams from 1-6 in both the Patriot and Liberty Divisions. The rankings will be based on won-loss records in Colonial play over the last three seasons.
After the teams are seeded from 1-6 in each division, the cross-over games will be arranged so that the top teams in the Patriot would play the top teams in the Liberty and the teams in the lower rankings of the Patriot would play the teams in the lower rankings of the Liberty.
In that way, the league likely would avoid matchups such as this past season's games between West Deptford and Gateway and West Deptford and Lindenwold. West Deptford beat Gateway and Lindenwold by a combined score of 137-0 this past season.
Raba praised Lindenwold athletic director Derryl Sellers and Sterling athletic director Matt Sheehan for "working very hard" to try to find an "outside the box" way to settle some of the Colonial's imbalance in its cross-over games.
Cape-Atlantic League president Mike Gatley, the Mainland athletic director, said he understood the Colonial's decision.
"We thought we had something that was mutally beneficial to both leagues but at this time it wasn't," Gatley said. "This was done very professionally with the best interests of the student athletes in mind."
The projected alliance came about as both league sought to solve some of their scheduling issues with cross-over games.
Among the projected cross-overs were games between West Deptford and Mainland, Haddonfield and Bridgeton and Paulsboro and Pleasantville, among many others.
Gatley said the Colonial's decision means that the Cape Atlantic League is likely to return to the same format the league used in 2012 and 2013 for the next two seasons, with an American Division and a National Division.
Before discussions with the Colonial, the CAL had tentatively approved an alignment for 2014 and 2015 that would have moved St. Augustine and Vineland up to the American Division and Holy Spirit down to the National Division.
The arrangement would keep St. Joseph in the larger-school American Division. St. Joe's officials had been upset by plans to move the Wildcats into a United Division with smaller schools such as Lower Cape May, Pleasantville and Middle Township under the terms of the projected alliance with the Colonial.
Gatley said CAL officials would work to finalize the format for the football schedule for the 2014 and 2015 seasons in the near future.
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