Video is Cocalico victory over Cedar Cliff last November for the District 3, Class 5A title.
On Wednesday morning, the L-L League voted 19-5, with one abstention, to accept 13 Berks County schools as associate members for football beginning with the 2022 season. The no votes came from Cocalico, Donegal, ELCO, Octorara and Penn Manor. Lancaster Mennonite was the abstention.
The vote caps a lengthy on-off negotiation with the Berks schools, which originally applied for associate membership in 2018. At that point, the L-L tabled a motion to admit Berks by an 18-4 vote, due in large part to the fact that it was set to realign again in 2020.
But in January, talks heated up again, setting the stage for Wednesday’s vote, which required a two-thirds majority to pass. Joining the L-L in 2022 will be Reading, Governor Mifflin, Exeter, Muhlenberg, Daniel Boone, Fleetwood, Twin Valley, Conrad Weiser, Hamburg, Schuylkill Valley, Wyomissing, Berks Catholic and Kutztown, which were a part of the Berks I-C league, which originally formed in 1957. Wilson is already a member of L-L Section 1.
“It’s been a four-year process that we’ve been involved in, with a bunch of different scenarios and trying to figure things out,” said L-L football chairman and Annville-Cleona athletic director Tommy Long. “And we got more than a two-thirds vote, which was nice. I think it’s a sign that there was fairly strong support for it. Not everybody was, and I understand the reasons behind it. But big picture for the league, I think it’s a good move ,in my opinion, and it provides some structure and flexibility in sections that we haven’t had in the past, which resulted in some bad matchups and hurt some programs.
“Not saying that this is gonna be perfect – there’s still going to be schools that have some tough challenges – but I think this provides us a lot more flexibility, having these additional schools.”
At first glance, 37 schools might seem to be an unworkable number, but Long is confident that the new look will be beneficial to the majority of member schools. A breakdown of the league in terms of sections will be made at a later date, but is expected to feature a five-section alignment by PIAA classification.
“It is a lot of teams,” Long said. “We’re working toward a five-section proposal, which leaves everybody with three non-league games and I think a lot of the coaches are in favor of that. And they want to play schools their size, they don’t like the mandatory crossover games. These are all things that this should now allow the flexibility to have happen better than it did when we had 24 schools in three sections. If you’re playing in your classification, that’s one of the fairest things you can do for anybody.”
Long hopes to have the section alignments done by fall.
“I think now the real work starts,” he said.