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DiGIOVANNI: Unless schools look out for each other, even 40-team mega-league won’t solve everything

The Ches-Mont League has fared very well in both the Class 5A and 6A playoffs, with the league putting one team in all each of the four semifinals.

While the Ches-Mont is doing very well on the gridiron in these playoffs, the league is still grappling with a better way to align the league to make it more competitive for everyone. Last week’s 8-4 principals vote to move both West Chester East and West Chester Henderson to the Ches-Mont American Division — leaving the American with eight teams and the National with just five — has come under fire from many sides.

With the latest realignment under much scrutiny, I have learned of a possible plan that would merge the Ches-Mont (13 teams) with the Del Val League (six teams) and Suburban One (21 teams) to form a 40-team scheduling slate. The proposal would not include the Central League or Pioneer Athletic Conference, two leagues that seem to want no part of a district-wide scheduling situation.

This latest idea is in the early stages, and the Suburban One is dealing with its own alignment problems, but the scheduling idea would have four 10-team divisions with all schools playing a nine-game league schedule and having to find just one nonleague game. As much as possible, it would put schools in mini leagues with teams in the same classifications.

Going by this year’s classifications, that hypothetical 40-team setup would include:

• 22 Class 6A schools (including Coatesville, the Downingtowns and Avon Grove).

• 14 Class 5A schools (the rest of the Ches-Mont except for Shanahan).

• Four Class 4A schools (including Shanahan).

The problem with any realignment is that schools basically look at what is best for them and not for the good of the many. I realize schools have to look out for themselves, first and foremost, but there has to be some give and take if you want to be in a league with other schools. If not, then go independent and try to get a realistic 10-game schedule.

Good luck with that.

The reently approved Ches-Mont realignment plan is already drawing its skeptics.

Some 5A coaches are concerned with having to play two crossover games and still having a bye week, with that week off coming late in the season. The 6A schools (plus 4A Bishop Shanahan) will now have to find more nonleague games, and those coaches say that nonleague games are hard enough to find when you have to get three of them, not to mention the four or five they will need now.

As far as it goes on the field, the Ches-Mont is having a great fall.

In Class 5A, West Chester Rustin has showed it is a tough team to be reckoned with, as the Golden Knights soundly defeated both Oxford and Academy Park, and now will travel to Penn Wood to play a top-seeded Patriots team that lost to Rustin in Week 5.

The other 5A school is Unionville. The Indians have showed their defensive prowess, allowing just seven points in their first two playoff games. Unionville went on the road for a 9-0 victory over Springfield-Delco in the first round and then shut down a very good offensive team in Radnor in the quarterfinal round.

The two 6A schools, Coatesville and Downingtown West, took very different paths to the semifinals. Coatesville is averaging 47 points per game and leading District 1 in that category. The Red Raiders have blown out their first two opponents, Central Bucks East and Downingtown East, while the Whippets needed a last-second, 39-yard field goal from Dan Byrnes to take down a very good Harry S. Truman squad in the quarterfinals.

So while the Ches-Mont League is wrestling with many options off the field for the 2019 season, on the field we have four talented and unique teams, led by Coatesville, which is probably the best 6A team in the state.

So, enjoy the games and let the talking and hand-wringing over realignment rest until the offseason.

With two the last four schools left in the District 1 playoffs, fans should realize they are seeing the best of the best in high school football in Pennsylvania.

Peter DiGiovanni covers high school football for the Daily Local News and Pa. Prep Live. Follow him on Twitter @PeteDLN.



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