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ConVal football to play in new Division II

Now that the fall season is officially over, players and coaches can begin looking toward next year.

And for the ConVal football team that will mean stepping into some unfamiliar territory. But at least the Cougars won’t be alone. With the approval of a realignment by the NHIAA this summer, the 57 varsity football teams in the state will now be separated into three divisions for the 2013 season.

Since 2008, high school football in the state has been made up of six football divisions with four teams from each qualifying for postseason play. Under the new alignment, each of the three divisions will be broken down into four conferences of four or five teams. The top two programs from each conference will play in the quarterfinal round of each division’s eight-team playoff bracket.

The division breakdown will be based on school size and ConVal fits in with Division II.

In Division II, there will be four conferences of five teams for a total of 20. ConVal will play in the West along with Monadnock, the Division V champion in 2012, Kearsarge, Hollis/Brookline and Sanborn. Kearsarge and Sanborn also played in D-V this past season. There will also be a North, South and Central conference in D-II.

“When you look at the conference we’re in, it really gives us a shot at winning a conference title,” said ConVal coach Ryan McCartney.

With a total of nine games, the Cougars will play each conference opponent once during the regular season and five other games against Division II programs. There will no longer be cross-divisional games.

ConVal will keep a pair of key rivalry games intact. The Cougars will play Souhegan and Milford in 2013, both longtime foes in D-III who will play in the South Conference.

ConVal will also match-up with Lebanon from the North Conference, Kingswood, Central, and John Stark, South. The Cougars last played Kingswood in the 2007 season and will battle John Stark for the first time since 2009.

“We’re going to play five teams that we haven’t played,” said McCartney.

The 2012 Division III champion Portsmouth will anchor the Central Conference, while longtime powerhouse and Division IV champion Plymouth will be in the North.

During the 2012 season, ConVal played both Hollis/Brookline and Sanborn and came away with victories. The Cougars defeated Hollis/Brookline 24-7 and the Indians 17-0 in the team’s second straight shutout. ConVal used to play Kingswood and John Stark before they dropped down to Division IV. They also scrimmaged Monadnock prior to the season.

“We’re pretty confident with the teams we have in our league,” said McCartney.

The number of games played will be dropped from 10 to nine for ConVal.

There are 20 programs in D-I as well and 17 in D-III.

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