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Nonnewaug’s Football Program Won’t Go Co-op

WOODBURY – The Nonnewaug High School football program will compete for a second-straight season as a sub-varsity program, Nonnewaug Athletic Director Declan Curtin told Just Woodbury.

Curtin said there was hope that Nonnewaug, which played a sub-varsity schedule in 2018, could combine forces with the Kaynor Tech-Sacred Heart co-op program. Curtin said Nonnewaug was very close to making a deal with the Kaynor Tech-Sacred Heart co-op program, but the terms did not favor Nonnewaug.

“I know some people are frustrated, but if we became a co-op, we would have worn their uniforms and played and practiced at [Waterbury] Municipal Stadium.” Curtin said. “The Board of Education wanted to support Nonnewaug football being our own entity and wants to see us continue to build the program.”

According to the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference, the governing body for high school sports in the state, if a CIAC member school does not have a sufficient number of participants to offer a sport program they may merge with any number of other CIAC Member Schools who also do not have a sufficient number of participants.

For football, the maximum number of players a school can have if it wants to join a co-op program is 32 in grades 9 through 12. Last season, Nonnewaug suited up just 23 players, but chose to play a sub-varsity schedule. Nonnewaug had 34 players in 2017.

The CIAC’s deadline to declare co-op status was May 1. However, the CIAC granted Nonnewaug an extension since it started exploring options in April.

Meanwhile, also in April, Nonnewaug Head Football Coach Zach Mihaly resigned, as did the assistant coaches. Curtin posted job listings for the head coach and assistant coach positions today.

“The last coaching staff had best interest of the kids in mind, but they had significant challenges,” Curtin said.

Mihaly became the head coach in the summer of 2017, and Nonnewaug was closed for construction that summer and the summer of 2018. The school has also been without a weight room, and currently the gym and locker rooms are closed for renovations.

Also, Nonnewaug has not benefited from a feeder program since Nonnewaug Pop Warner folded in 2012. Region 14 elementary and middle school students who want to play tackle football can play with the Pomperaug or Water-Oak Pop Warner programs, or with Woodbury-Bethlehem teams that compete in the Oxford Flag Football league.

An attempt by a Roxbury resident in 2018 to revive the defunct Nonnewaug Pop Warner program did not materialize.

“Woodbury Middle School is thriving as a feeder program for many sports.” Curtin said. “Football is a sport that usually requires five, six, or seven years of experience before putting on pads in high school. A lot of schools having a problem with numbers as other sports are becoming popular.”

Once a new coaching staff is in place and a proper weight room opens at the high school, Curtin said football could turn into a 12-year commitment for the kids.

“The construction project has hurt the football program, but you have to pay the price to get the glory at the end,” Curtin said. “There will be growing pains, but we will have a proud product. What’s happened to the program these past two years is no reflection of the previous coaching staff.”

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4 Comments

  • Andrew says:

    In the late 70’s & into the 80’s there was a very strong Pop Warner program in town, but never a high school program. If kids wanted to play in high school they usually went to Holy Cross (Taft & Sacred Heart occasionally). It simply may be time to move on from this idea and have the high school stick with the sports that have been the backbone of athletics at the school; soccer, basketball, track, wrestling, baseball, softball, & field hockey.

  • Edward W D'Alfonso says:

    Co op is a good thing for the kids.

  • Football Dad says:

    What terms? Currently Nonnewaug has no coaching staff, construction took away locker rooms, weight room, practice field, no one at the school can tell anyone when the new field will be ready, no league, no games & only hope to schedule JV games w/8 seniors? Sacred Heart/Kaynor has all the above plus the ability to give these kids both JV & Varsity game experience, so again what terms? Uniforms? It is a Co-op do they really expect each school to provide their own uniforms, it’s one team made up of 3 schools, it would make sense if your one team you wear 1 uniform. Who cares where they practice at least Sacred Heart/Kaynor has a field to practice on! Frustrated? Ask the coaching staff about frustration, they presented 2 potential Co-ops long before April, each time they met the ever changing requirements this administration put on them, these coaches had nothing but the best interest of these kids and the future of this program in mind, it’s amazing they hung in as long as they did!
    Co-op’s work, Nonnewaug has a Co-op in hockey (wonder what uniforms they wear?) The CIAC had 15 Co-op’s in football last season, 9 of them were 3 school, 1 was a 4 school, 41 different schools opted for a Co-op and the CIAC had 1 JV only program last year, take that for what you will.
    The AD’s own comments in this article suggest the future numbers are not there to support a football program, so what is this administration trying to accomplish by rejecting a Co-op now for a 3rd time?
    “Frustrated” wouldn’t be my word of choice!

  • Football Dad says:

    Frustrated? Talk to the coaches who resigned in April about frustration after giving this administration 2 separate Co–ops that met what this administration asked for & they still rejected them. The 1st was in the fall of 2018 and 2nd was early in 2019. It’s amazing that these coaches lasted as long as they did! Favor Nonnewaug what does that even mean? Nonnewaug has no locker rooms, no weight room, no practice field, no coaching staff, no league, no games scheduled, does anyone know when the new field is even supposed to be done? & so on.

    What does this AD need? Uniforms? Really does he expect a 3 team Co-op to wear uniforms based on 3 day alternating cycle? How about 1 team, 1 uniform. Their Field? Really we don’t even have a field to practice on forget play a game! How about what these kids need, how about what these kids deserve? Sacred Heart/Kaynor has everything this Region can’t offer, fields, games, a league, coaches and so on.

    According to the CIAC they are currently 50 schools that form 19 Football Co-ops, Canton and Granby submitted paperwork to the CIAC in April. So currently over 50 schools involved in football Co-ops, 1 program in the state that plays JV only? Figure that one out. I would caution everyone to pay attention to this one if this administration has obviously targeted football what sport or extra curricular activity will they target next. Construction has hurt & the administration has no problem using that excuse, how about the administration has hurt? The AD says frustrated, that wouldn’t be my word of choice!

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