2018-01-08 / Sports

NCTL adds two more new teams

By Austin VanDaele
810-452-2655 • avandaele@mihomepaper.com

Dryden’s Sam Peyerk looks for an opening during the first week of the 2017 football season in a game with North Huron. 
Photo by Austin VanDaele Dryden’s Sam Peyerk looks for an opening during the first week of the 2017 football season in a game with North Huron. Photo by Austin VanDaele AREAWIDE — The North Central Thumb League continues to expand. After adding 10 new teams in the fall of 2016 for the 2017 football season, the NCTL decided to expand again, this time adding Genesee and Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart. Genesee was admitted as a full-time member to the league during the first week of December while Sacred Heart, which will only compete in football, was added a week later.

The additions bring the total number of football teams in the NCTL to 18, allowing it to split into three divisions for the upcoming football season – a Stars, Stripes and a yet-to-be-named division.

The Stars division will include Deckerville, Dryden, Kingston, Mayville, North Huron and Peck. In the Stripes division will be Akron-Fairgrove, Bay City All Saints, Carsonville-Port Sanilac, Caseville, New Haven Merritt and Owendale-Gagetown. The unnamed division will feature Burton Madison, International Academy of Flint, Genesee, Lawrence, Morrice and Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart.

“I like it. The league is a class act,” said Dryden football coach Al Hutchinson of the changes to the league. “I also like that it went back to basically the original NCTL for us. We look forward to playing Peck and North Huron. We consider them rivals and were disappointed to not play Peck last year. I think the league will be very competitive and challenging for us.”

Each division was formed based on school size as well as location, which is different from the most recent setup that split the once 16-team conference into two divisions based only on enrollment.

“The small division was the one we started with,” said NCTL Executive Secretary Jeff Kosal to the Huron Daily Tribune’s Paul Adams in a December 14, 2017 article. “From there, it was all about location. Mainly, everyone west of I-75 went into one division and those east of I-75 went into the other division.

“This will help the small schools along with the big schools. It will give the bigger schools two more teams to compete against and the small schools will be able to compete with the small schools.”

The new divisions meant that football schedules would need to be realigned as well. Beginning in 2018, the new format will feature crossover games with the conference’s other divisions during the first four weeks of the season followed by the final five weeks being played within each school’s respective division.

“There is going to be even more great football coming out of the NCTL this coming year,” said Kosal. “And I, for one, am very excited about our product.”

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