Salesianum's Kevin Faries celebrates after a punt return TD against Smyrna

Salesianum's Kevin Faries celebrates after a punt return TD against Smyrna

Salesianum football is sitting on just three scheduled games 11 days from the start of the football season, one they are potentially thinking about freezing if they can't get more games on the schedule.

Salesianum President Brendan Kennealey sent a letter on Monday to DIAA Board of Directors Chair Dr. Bradley Layfield, emphasizing the school needs DIAA assistance in scheduling meaningful matchups.

"The structure DIAA allowed this year created a known problem for a member school. We have exhausted all of our options and we are left with a choice of either playing a three-game schedule or pursuing a temporary restraining order which would place an injunction on the entire DIAA high school football season until the issue is corrected."

Kennealey said they could seek that injunction if the DIAA doesn't make any changes that would lead to Division 1 teams being able to schedule Salesianum at Thursday's special meeting of the DIAA Board of Directors.

Salesianum's dilemma stems from the DIAA deciding to change course, and reinstitute a seven-game fall schedule starting on October 23, after previously deciding football in Delaware would be played in March and April.

The seven game template becomes an issue when considering the makeup of Division 1's 18 football schools.

Sixteen are split even between the public school-only Henlopen North and Blue Hen Flight A conferences, Wilmington Charter competes in the otherwise-Division 2 Diamond State Conference, and then, there is Salesianum, the lone private school.

The Henlopen Conference was able to work a trick to open a non-conference game, because its smaller-school Henlopen South sister has just six football playing members, meaning those schools had just five guaranteed games. Milford and Polytech agreed to split their six conference games between the North and South, giving everyone six conference games and one out-of-conference slot.

Sussex Central, Smyrna, and Dover chose Salesianum for that window. Sussex Tech still has an open date, and a mutual open slot in Week 7 with the Sals, but Salesianum AD Scott Mosier said they've reached out repeatedly and gotten 'no' from Georgetown.

There are an even number of football playing schools in Delaware, so there is a chance to achieve a perfect schedule.

The teams with open weeks are Salesianum (1, 3, 5, 7), Friends (1, 5), Tower Hill (3, 6), Caravel (6), and Sussex Tech (7).

Tower Hill and Friends have much smaller rosters, making games against Salesianum illogical, while it's not abundantly clear why Tower Hill and Caravel and Sussex Tech and Salesianum have not made logical matchups happen.

The Blue Hen Conference is split 8 and 8, and all teams in Flights A and B have decided to follow their conference bylaws and play their conference games before making any other out-of-conference games, which in a seven-game season, means they can't.

That means Salesianum's previously-scheduled games with Hodgson, Middletown, Appoquinimink, William Penn, and St. Georges were off the table.

At least week's DIAA Football Committee meeting, Dr. Layfield said DIAA has no jurisdiction on how its conferences put together a schedule.

"DIAA, or even the football committee, has absolutely no authority to dictate to any conference what they put out as far as their schedules go."

Kennealey said that left Salesianum in a bind.

"We are out of options. The season is only a couple of weeks away, and we don't have a football schedule because of what they have allowed to be the structure with conferences and all of that."

Hence, the idea that Salesianum could try to go to court to force a change in the Delaware football landscape, less than two weeks from scheduled kickoff.

"We're not going to play a three-game schedule, we don't find that an acceptable outcome. We think it's ludicrous that we have to be considering going to court over this issue, but they are forcing our hand at this point to go that route."

At least week's DIAA Board of Directors meeting, where no action was taken on Salesianum's plight, Mosier put out a list of suggestions, including getting rid of automatic bids, in an attempt to reduce the need or desire for the Blue Hen Conference to compete just among itself.

Salesianum has tried on multiple occasions to join the Blue Hen Conference, something not allowed by its public school-only bylaws, but Kennealey said they are just a secondary player to the major issue.

"I don't place the blame with the Blue Hen Conference, specifically. I think the Blue Hen Conference has an opportunity to correct a problem that was created, and up until now they haven't done that. In that sense, I would like for them to provide the remedy, but in my view, this goes back to once the season was allowed to begin, the DIAA knowing that this was going to exclude one school, and not being really clear with conferences that they allowed the conference to exist this year, or if they were going to allow them to exist, they would be really clear that things would have to change to make sure one school wasn't excluded. That was a failure out of the gate, and that's on DIAA. Now, what's on DIAA is that the remedy is on the conference level, the DIAA needs to say to the conferences, in this case the Blue Hen, you need to provide that remedy, or we're going to have to start over."

Kennealey said they don't want to be seen as the school that stopped the football season.

"We, obviously, don't want that. The whole point of the struggle to get sports up and running is that a lot of people think sports are a good thing particularly right now. The last thing on Earth we want to do is shut that down for some reason other than safety."

Salesianum remains in a unique position in Delaware football as the only Division 1 large private school.

Despite the differences with their public and charter school counterparts in Division 1, Kennealey sees more equality.

"Salesianum has been the size that we are for a long time. Years ago, perhaps, there were more private and independent schools of our size. We're proud of the success that we've had, but this is not abnormal. In any other state, you have private, Catholic, independent, and public schools playing each other without any issues. There's great competition in the state in football. There's lots of really great programs in the state, so why wouldn't great programs play each other? It doesn't really make sense that we wouldn't be allowed to play other great programs."

Ultimately, Kennealey said the fact he had to write the letter to DIAA, or that this debate is even at the forefront of the high school reopening debate at the moment, speaks to a larger issue.

"The idea that a superintendent, a principal, a head of school, is spending any time on this issue right now is crazy. I get why some of the superintendents didn't want to have sports because their time is now getting wrapped up around this nonsense."

Dr. Bradley Layfield addressed Mosier after the DIAA Board voted down a proposal to bar automatic bids, by saying Salesianum should look elsewhere, where Delaware mandatory-mask rule plus quarantine concerns loom as issues.

"At this time, the best I can tell Salesianum is I wish you a lot of luck in trying to reach out to folks in Pennsylvania, and potentially there could be some movement out of the next football committee meeting."

Apparently is there is no movement from the DIAA this week; the next move will be Salesianum's, and the possibility exists that Delaware's delayed football season never gets off the ground.