Now into their second year of athletic conference changes, the teams of the Montpelier Locomotives have laid a strong foundation for their moves into new conferences.
Nothing could be more of a signpost than the football program. In 2015, the team posted a 4-6 record in independent play, and boasting two 1,000-yard rushers was just more frosting on the cake. The Locos’ schedule matched them up against four teams that went on to the state playoffs. One of those teams, Hilltop, took a 45-22 thrashing from the Locos at Hobe Krouse Field in Week 8 of the season. After a tough shutout against state-ranked Lake in Week 1 of the campaign, Montpelier found the endzone in every remaining game, averaging over 27 points per game over the final nine contests.
To review, beginning this year, Montpelier Football will be joining the TAAC, wrestling will compete in the NWOAL, and all other sports will compete in BBC, the conference that Montpelier helped form in 1967. As Montpelier Athletic Director, Joe Brigle explained, “The reason for the changes are that our enrollment numbers have went down over the last ten years, and it has made it very difficult to continue to compete with schools that are trending upwards. The BBC is a natural fit for us since the schools are in our backyard. We had to get creative because the BBC only has two schools with football, so they don’t recognize football in their league. The TAAC was looking to expand their league, so that became a viable option. We are staying with the NWOAL in wrestling because of lack of options in either the BBC or TAAC. The NWOAL will still give our wrestlers a home, and a chance to compete in a league.”
After a highly successful 2015-16 school year, Mr. Brigle said that the transition is coming along nicely. “The transition has been good,” he said. “We have been working closely with the TAAC and BBC schools over the last two years. The hardest part of the transition has been the scheduling, but all in all, it has been a very smooth transition.”
Mr. Brigle sees benefits coming out of the conference changes. He said, “I think one benefit to the league change is that our teams will be competing against schools more our size. We will play schools that look more like our student-athletes. We have had a very solid track record over the years against the schools in the BBC. We have developed some natural rivals with bordering schools like Hilltop, Edon and North Central. If we continue to build and develop our programs from the ground up, in return we will be more consistent in our play. If the consistency improves, hopefully we can experience more winning seasons. The same is true for the TAAC and football. We have to become more consistent in our play, and the wins will take care of themselves. At the end of the day, we are trying to put our athletes in the best position to be successful.”
When asked what are he sees coming up for Montpelier Locomotive Athletics in the 2016-17 school year, Mr. Brigle said, “I expect our athletes to continue to work hard for our town, our school, and our teams. I think we are on the verge of some great things athletically if our athletes continue to work hard in and out of season. The league changes don’t guarantee any wins or league championships. We still have to work and compete hard each day. But I think it gives our teams a better chance to be more successful on a more consistent basis.”
Timothy Kays can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org