Friends Academy Football received big news this winter: Nassau County Section VIII (8) Athletics will be creating a Developmental League for seven football teams, including the Quakers, to make games closer for everyone involved. The league is intended to help the following teams rebuild their failing programs: Port Washington, Jericho, Great Neck North, Great Neck South, Roslyn, Friends Academy, and Long Island Lutheran (LuHi did not participate in the public school league last year; similarly Friends did not field an official varsity team). Hopefully the league will influence and encourage more students at all seven schools to play football.
The five teams that did play in the public school league went a combined 5-35 last year, with several winless teams. Nassau Football Coordinator Pat Pizzarelli said that if a team dominates, it will move back to its conference; but because the league will not feature postseason play, determining if a team is ready to move back to its conference is a difficult task. The league features teams from all divisions (Friends academy is Section VIII Division IV, while Port Washington is Section VIII Division I, and LuHi is in a separate Private School division. Public School Divisions are based on school size not team skill level).
Whether or not the league will be successful is yet to be seen, but Nassau County has had a Developmental League before; the six-team Island Conference was used in 1991, before Friends Academy participated in public school athletics. The league does have its flaws, however. Many of the Divisions in Nassau County have 2 and 3 win teams, which are dependent on the other weak teams for their limited success. Without these teams, a new bottom tier of teams will likely develop. The only legitimate way developmental teams can find new success in their old divisions is if, before returning, they see significant increases in participation or they follow in the footsteps of current successful teams.
The other controversial aspect of the league is the inclusion of Long Island Lutheran. As a private school, LuHi has no restrictions on recruiting, and can offer benefits to athletes that public school teams cannot. LuHi has also had mediocre success in Private School competition, making competitors nervous that they will dominate the new league. Regardless of the league’s flaws, at least some of these traditionally losing programs will be successful next year, and Friends is expected to come out strong. Hopefully the new league boosts FA Football student participation and success.
Photo Courtesy of Mike Damm