THIS STORY HAS BEEN FORMATTED FOR EASY PRINTING

4 schools get DCL invite

Monday meeting is the next step

By Bob Holmes
Globe Staff / May 17, 2011

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The Dual County League yesterday ended months of speculation by announcing that Chelmsford, Billerica, Tewksbury, and North Andover have been invited to join the league. Pending the outcome of a meeting Monday at Acton-Boxboro, the four will join the DCL for the 2013-14 school year, sooner if the Cape Ann League (North Andover) and Merrimack Valley Conference agree to release the schools earlier.

Citing geography, enrollment, philosophy, and programs, Westford principal and DCL spokesman Jim Antonelli said the four were schools the DCL “felt comfortable with’’ and that he had called the other six applicants — Andover, Central Catholic, Dracut, Methuen, Lowell, and Lawrence — with the news they no longer were in the running.

“We have to be concerned about the integrity of our schools,’’ said Antonelli, referring to the 10 schools that had applied and what number worked best. “We asked, ‘How much do we want to bite off?’ ’’

The Monday meeting is an opportunity for athletic directors and principals on both sides to ask questions. Antonelli doesn’t anticipate a final decision that day. It’s possible if any of the four schools doesn’t like what it hears, that school could pull out.

Tewksbury athletic director Brian Hickey was optimistic but said there’s still work to be done. “This is far from a completed deal. It’s a process,’’ he said.

If approved, the Dual County League will have 14 schools. Currently the DCL has 12 schools but is losing Arlington and Tyngsboro next fall. The Merrimack Valley Conference will shrink to seven schools. The MVC’s current Large-Small format would be an issue for the conference and it might bring the Greater Boston League back into the mix for a potential merger. The GBL last week said it had applied to join the MVC.

Going strictly by MIAA enrollment figures, the seven-team DCL Large would have Acton-Boxboro (1,962 students), Newton South (1,780), Chelmsford (1,687), Lincoln-Sudbury (1,622), Boston Latin (1,607), Westford (1,584), and Billerica (1,541). The DCL Small would have Waltham (1,510), North Andover (1,324), Concord-Carlisle (1,258), Tewksbury (1,136), Wayland (900), Bedford (765), and Weston (722).

Continuing a Large-Small split would allow the MIAA to leave the current football alignments in place with the DCL Large in Division 1A and the Small in Division 2A.

Bob Holmes can be reached at rholmes@globe.com.

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