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The majority of the high schools in Morris, Bergen, Passaic, Hudson and Essex Counties have agreed to follow through with the change of scenery, launching the North Jersey Super Football Conference. Nutley athletic director Joe Piro, the NJSFC president, said it is one of, if not the largest, football conference in the entire United States.
Kickoff is set for fall 2016.
Piro began to formulate a plan back in March, reaching out to other athletic directors across northern New Jersey to push for these changes.
“When you talk about competitive balance, it always seems to get confused with non-public schools playing public schools, but that’s really not the case,” Piro said. “There’s just as much competitive imbalance when publics play public schools. By doing this, we hope to create competitive balance throughout the northern part of the state.”
Schools were represented by their respective athletic directors at Mayfair Farms in West Orange for the first official meeting of the new NJSFC on Wednesday. The constitution and bylaws, rules and regulations, budget dues and fees, division assignments, scheduling were all approved, and an executive committee was created.
Madison athletic director Sean Dowling will be the Northwest Jersey Athletic Conference’s representative on the NJSFC executive board. Dowling has been in favor of the transition from the start and he is excited for the new changes that are taking place.
“Hopefully the geography makes sense, new rivalries will be formed, and some rivalries will be preserved,” Dowling said. “We will get more of a fan base to travel to away games now that games will be geographically closer and more competitive. And now publics and non-publics won’t be forced to play each other.”
The only switch from the original alignment was St. Joseph of Montvale being moved from the Non-Public United B to the Non-Public United A Division, switching places with Seton Hall Prep.
Delbarton and Pope John are also in the Non-Public United B Division along with DePaul. Morris Catholic is in the Non-Public United C Division with Marist, Hudson Catholic, St. Anthony’s, Newark Collegiate, and Montclair Immaculate.
The one non-public school from Morris County that will not be participating in the NJSFC is Morristown-Beard. Athletic director Joanne Dzama is exploring different options and the Crimson will most likely play an independent schedule next year.
“We’ve had some ups and downs and sort of a roller coaster with our roster over the past couple of years,” Dzama said. “It just makes the most sense for us to pursue a league where we are with schools that are like-minded academically and athletically. We are going to pursue a league that has strictly non-public schools that are independent. At this time it just makes the most sense for us to do that.”
Morristown is in the Liberty C division with Essex County powerhouse Montclair, West Orange, Livingston, East Orange, Columbia, and Bloomfield. Outside of the six division games, the Colonials were able to mutually agree to play crossover games with West Morris, Randolph, and Roxbury.
“It’s interesting, but I do have some reservations,” Morristown athletic director Smitty Horton said. “Our new schedule has us traveling a little bit more than we anticipated. We lose a lot of the hometown feel with just going right around the corner and playing some of the teams we played in the past. It’s a change for us, but we are up for the challenge.”
The Freedom A Division is full of Morris County teams, including Roxbury, West Morris, Randolph, Mendham, Morris Knolls, and Mount Olive.
Sparta, Jefferson, Morris Hills, Vernon, West Milford, High Point, and Montville make up the Patriot A Division and Parsippany Hills and Chatham are in the Patriot B Division with West Essex, Nutley, Orange, Barringer, and Ferris.
The American A Division features Lenape Valley, Lakeland, Kittatinny, Hackettstown, Newton, and Wallkill Valley. And the American B Division includes Hanover Park, Madison, Pequannock, Dover, Central (Newark), and Kinnelon. Mountain Lakes, Whippany Park, and Parsippany will be Morris County’s representatives in the American C Division.
Boonton, Hopatcong, Butler, North Warren, and Verona make up the National B Division.
“I don’t have a crystal ball, but I’ll tell you this: I believe what we’ve done is a great thing,” Piro said. “I believe we created very competitive schedules. I believe two years from now we are going to be in a much better place than we are in now. The future and the vision is very bright.”
Staff Writer Dan Canova: (862) 240-2878;[email protected]