The Salesianum School is now looking out of state to fill out the remainder of its football schedule.
That move came after the Delaware Interscholastic Athletic Association board of directors, in an 8-5 vote on Thursday, rejected a proposal to abandon the automatic bid process for the 2020 state football playoff.
Salesianum, a private Wilmington school without a conference affiliation, has only three games on the schedule, athletics director Scott Mosier told board members via phone.
“We’re two weeks away from the football season starting, and we can’t play a full schedule of games,” Mosier said. “There are 16 Division I big schools, and 15 of those are in two conferences. Salesianum is the only big school that is not in a conference.”
“Because of this, conferences are able to dictate to the state various rules and motivations of those conferences. With conferences governing their own decision of who gets in and out of specific rules within the conferences, they have and will continue to have the opportunity to control the big schools’ decisions.”
Mosier said Salesianum would normally have its schedule filled by opponents from the Blue Hen Flight A and B conferences or the Henlopen North and South conferences. Not this year, because all of those conferences are locked into league-only games in a truncated season.
“Big schools should basically play big schools, and small schools should play smaller schools or programs,” Mosier said. “These larger school ADs and coaches have verbally committed to playing us, but can’t because conference rules requirements [this year].”
Salesianum sought to play schools that have open dates, such as Wilmington Friends and Sussex Tech, but both those schools turned down the opportunity.
Mosier brought four options to the board that he thought could help Salesianum:
• Sallies could have filled the lone vacant slot in the Henlopen North Conference, which has seven teams. Salesianum is already playing Dover, Smyrna and Sussex Central. Salesianum would not have been eligible for the conference’s automatic bid since it is not a conference member.
• Get rid of automatic bids as a state tournament qualifier. With only seven regular season games scheduled this year because of COVID-19, the number of teams that qualify for the state playoffs drops from the normal 6 to 4.
• If the board wanted to keep the automatic bid, it could strike down the conference rule that requires conference teams to play each other for the automatic bid.
• Combine Blue Hen Flight A and B conferences with Henlopen North and Salesianum to make a 16-team league and create schedules for all of those schools.
After much discussion between board – on things such as why Sallies weren’t playing rivals St. Mark’s and if Salesianum was making any attempts to gain conference affiliation – a motion was made to dispense with the automatic bid process only for this season.
“I wish you a lot of luck in reaching out to folks in Pennsylvania,” DIAA board chairman Bradley Layfield said, adding that there could be some movement in the DIAA’s next football meeting, scheduled 9 a.m. Oct. 15.
A pitch to allow one scrimmage before the high school football season begins on Oct. 23 did not gain enough votes to change the current regulation.