Bring Back The Hockomock League
Not Today, But Yesterday
Starting in 2010, the historic Hockomock League ceased to exist and was replaced with the Hockomock League Kelley-Rex Division for the large schools, and the Hockomock League Davenport Division, for the small schools.
As I wrote in my Monday column, I am not in with this decision.
The teams that make up the Kelley-Rex Division are Attleboro, Franklin, King Philip, Mansfield, and North Attleboro. Oliver Ames, Canton, Foxborough, Sharon, and Stoughton make up the Davenport Division.
On the whole, about the only positive I find about this realignment is that it gives tribute to three long-time Hockomock League administrators who have worked hard and most certainly deserve tribute: Bill Rex, Foxborough High School; Louis Kelley, North Attleboro High School; and Dudley Davenport, Sharon High School.
A little history here.
Back in 2008, when there were nine teams in the Hockomock (Attleboro had not yet been added), the league athletic directors voted 8-1 for the two division makeup. The dissenter was North Attleboro athletic director Kurt Kummer.
Smart guy, that Kurt Kummer.
The alignment change was almost all about football and the league having two winners – the Kelley-Rex and Davenport winner – that it would send to the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) Eastern Massachusetts playoffs – and this would make more people happy, and bring in more money for the MIAA in gate revenue.
In some ways, as well, this dividing of the Hockomock continues and supports a trend in society – and that trend is “that everyone has to be a winner.” Everyone needs to feel good about themselves; so let’s figure out a way to make sure that everyone feels good about themselves.
Let me throw this back at people. Life is brutal and competitive, and there are winners and losers, and runner-ups and “also rans.” That’s life. Sometimes it isn’t pretty or comforting – but that is the way it is. So get down and figure out how to deal with it.
I still think we should have one Hockomock League, and that OA can compete against and beat any team in the Kelley-Rex and the Davenport divisions. But the administrators of the league think that the big schools in football have too much of an advantage over the smaller ones, and that we need to break things up.
Please. There is so much wrong with this.
Among the negatives in breaking up the Hockomock League is that it eliminates long-time Hockomock rivalries in other sports, such as OA against both Mansfield and Franklin in cross-country.
For years, from the 1950s into the 1970s, OA was the second smallest school in the Hockomock League in terms of enrollment. I need to check the status and number, but I don’t think we were ever the smallest school; I think Mansfield was smaller. No matter, we were close to the smallest, and we were very competitive in football during that period; indeed for a stretch of several years within that period we were fairly dominant in the league.
I am looking at approximate school enrollment figures from 2010. The schools with the largest enrollment are Attleboro (2000) and Franklin (1,800). How did “small school” OA – which has an enrollment of about 1170 students – do against these teams in football in 2011? While the Tigers did not play Attleboro, they beat Franklin handily.
Of course, Canton, which had 850 students last year, beat the Tigers this season.
My Easton Patch colleague, Bob Havey, who lives in Easton, and who played for Mansfield, and had a son who played for Mansfield, recalled a heated civic meeting in Mansfield back in 1989.
What was the meeting about? Well, Mansfield had been getting its butt whooped in football, and many of those close to the program wanted to quit the Hockomock League, and go to a league where the Hornets could be more competitive.
Bob and his compatriots were strongly against – and they made their sentiments known. They believed in tradition, and that the Hornets could restore their winning ways of yesteryear.
Mansfield selectmen voted 3-2 to stay in the Hockomock League.
That very year, Mansfield won the Hockomock League … and it continued to win … big time.
In the years since that pivotal Mansfield Board of Selectmen vote, the Hornets have been of the most dominant football programs in New England, winning 12 Hockomock League championships, and six Eastern Massachusetts Super Bowls (two in Div. II, and four in Div. 3).
There should be one Hockomock League. And Oliver Ames should direct itself to winning that league.
I also want to say this strongly – the OA Tiger victory over the undefeated and untied Pembroke Titans of the Patriot League was a huge win in the history of the program.
I think it also certifies that the Hockomock League is one of the toughest football leagues in the state.
We can compete and win against any team in the Hockomock League in football, just as we do in other sports.
And don’t get me going that an influx and increase of wealth in Easton has created a culture of young men in town who are not as hard-nosed, not as tough – that is to say, not of the mettle and fiber of a good football player – as in years long ago when our town was more of a blue collar and working class community.
No, that doesn’t cut it. Look at Duxbury and Duxbury High School. Duxbury has fewer than 19,000 residents, but it has more students in its high school than does Oliver Ames High School, which is the public high school in a town of more than 24,000 residents.
You think Easton can compete with Duxbury in terms of per capita income? Yeah, sure, it can compete – and it will lose. Really. Compare the Easton per capita W-2s with those of Duxbury and you will find that Easton loses, big time, to Duxbury.
So, let’s figure this – the Duxbury Dragons football team just finished their second consecutive 13-0-0 Super Bowl winning season. It has six players who will be going on to play Div. 1 college lacrosse next year. That is some serious athletic firepower on a high school football team.
This Hockomock “small school” and “large school” is ridiculous.
OA doesn’t need it. No school needs it.
Do you think that Neil Levine, coach of the OA boys’ and girls’ cross-country squad, or Britt Sellmayer, coach of the OA girls’ soccer team, or Elaine Clement-Holbrook, coach of the Tiger girls’ basketball program – who all mentor some of the most dominant secondary school athletic programs in the U.S. northeast – need to cherry pick who they will compete against to win honors?
No, these coaches, and their teams and their fierce competing athletes, will take on and go up against any prep team in New England, no matter the size of the school.
Suck it up, everyone. Bring back the Hockomock League.
No concessions. No kneeling down to the competition. No “we can’t compete so we will create a paradigm in which we will be competitive.”
One Hockomock League – let’s get back to it – not tomorrow, but yesterday.