Cony football coach B.L. Lippert calls an offensive play during a scrimmage against Lawrence on Aug. 24, 2019 at Alumni Field in Augusta. Kennebec Journal file photo Buy this Photo

AUGUSTA — Cony High School is set to move from Class A to Class B in several sports during the next two years based on an initial recommendation from the Maine Principals’ Association Classification Committee.

Cony’s enrollment has steadily declined in recent years — it has 630 students, according to state enrollment figures for April 1, 2020.

The move to Class B would begin in fall 2021 and go through spring 2023 as part of a two-year classification schedule.

Other notable changes include the Hampden Academy basketball teams moving to Class AA from Class A. Furthermore, Maine Central Institute of Pittsfield would drop from Class B in most sports to Class C. The MCI football team would drop from Class C in football to Class D. The Huskies football team was state runner-up in Class C in 2019. MCI’s enrollment is now 334, almost 100 fewer students than the 433 of the previous classification cycle.

There are still a few steps to complete before the new classification is finalized. First, schools have until March 19 to submit an appeal, which would then be heard by the MPA Classification Committee on March 22, MPA assistant executive director Mike Bisson said Wednesday.

Following any changes made by the Classification Committee, the proposal would go to an MPA Management Committee on March 25. That committee could hear any appeals not granted by the Classification Committee. From there, the proposal will go to the full MPA membership for approval in late April.

Both Cony and MCI would drop a class in each of the following sports: baseball, softball, cross country, field hockey, golf, boys and girls soccer, and tennis. MCI’s cooperative boys lacrosse team with Nokomis would drop from Class A to Class C.

“B North wouldn’t be a cakewalk for any of us going down,” Cony girls soccer coach Jeff Hersey said. “For me, the biggest difference will be preparing for teams I haven’t seen before.”

Since coming to Cony nine years ago, Hersey has seen participation in girls soccer decline. Part of that is the addition of volleyball, which gave athletes another option, and increased athletic participation across the board for Cony girls, a move Hersey supports. Part of the decline in soccer participation stems from having fewer students, Hersey said.

“I would have 40 girls between varsity and junior varsity. Now if I get 25 that’s a big number,” Hersey said.

Last fall, Hersey and the Rams played in a local pod with Erskine, Waterville, and Gardiner, teams they’ll now compete against in Class B. Rekindling those rivalries is intriguing, Hersey said, especially with Gardiner, Cony’s longtime chief rival.

“We’ll have two games versus Gardiner. That’s a huge thing for the girls. I think it’s good to have that team in your focus,” Hersey said.

For the MCI field hockey team, playing in Class C will not be a new experience. The Huskies won the Class C state title in 2015, and was runner-up in 2016 before moving back to Class B in 2017.

Among other changes for central Maine schools in the proposal, Mount View golf would move from Class B to Class C, while Oak Hill tennis would drop from Class B to Class C. The Mt. Blue outdoor track and field would move up from Class B to Class A.


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