In December the CHSFL received an e-mail that inquired as to why Iona was not listed as the 1971 champions. The e-mail, sent by an alumni of Iona, provoked a review which included discussions with members of the league who coached at that time. After reviewing the situation it was determined that Iona was incorrectly not listed as co - Champions of the 1971 season. The rotating trophy and the web site were adjusted to note the correction. However, documents that tell the story of why Chaminade had been listed as the only champion in 1971 were recently uncovered and have helped to clarify the decision that was made at that time.
The controversy that surrounds the 1971 championship is rooted in the expansion of the league in the late 60's and early 70's. For the first fourteen years of the league (1954 - 1967) the number of schools involved in the CHSFL varied from 6 to 8. Having so few members also allowed each team to play each other during the season and made it easy to declare a single champion. From 1954 - 1967 the CHSFL champion was determined by the won - loss record and in case of a tie the head to head competition was used.
The baby boom and movement to the suburbs in the 50's and 60's altered the CHSFL when four new members from Long Island, beginning in 1967, joined the league. As the new schools, Holy Family, St. John the Baptist, Holy Trinity and Maria Regina, advanced to the varsity level the call for a championship game was advocated but was never realized. The dates for such a game were difficult to schedule due to involvement of some schools in the traditional Thanksgiving Day games and state rules that limit the number of weeks schools can compete. As a result the league championship was awarded to co - champions in 1968, 1969 & 1970.
By 1971 it was agreed that a championship game would be played. With the decision to play a championship game a date was set, a site was selected and a program was printed.
As the season progressed and Chaminade and Iona ascended to the top of their respective divisions the potential for a conflict arose. The date for the game, which was set for Sunday, November 28, would not afford Iona enough time to recover from its Thanksgiving game. The problem was still considered slight due to the general assumption that St. Francis, considered a heavy favorite, would eliminate the problem by defeating Iona.
On the last week of the season Iona faced St. Francis in what became a City Division title game. The winner would take on Chaminade, the Island Division winner, for the CHSFL championship. Iona upset St. Francis 8 - 7, winning the division and setting the stage for a struggle over when the league championship game would be played.
At issue, as previously stated, was the recovery time of the Iona players. Doctors were consulted, by Iona, who testified that playing the game so shortly after the Thanksgiving game would increase the risk of injury. The state regulation, which limits the number of weeks in the football season, was waived. But despite this accommodation Chaminade refused to accept a rescheduling of the game.
After a deliberate and impassioned discussion it was decided that the game could not be played because neither side was willing to move from its position. Tie breakers were consulted. Because the teams did not face each other during the regular season a second tie breaking provision, the same provision that was used to determine past champions, was implemented. The tie breaker, which was stipulated in the league constitution, called for the use of a point system to determine the league champion. The point system awarded 2 points for a win, 1 point for a tie and -1 point for a loss. Chaminade had a record of 5-0-2, for a total of 12 points. Iona finished the season at 6-1, for a total of 11 points. Thus Chaminade was declared the 1971 CHSFL Champion.
In the aftermath of the 1971 championship controversy plans to host future championship games were abandon. In 1975, after even more expansion, both St. Dominic and St. Anthony's joined the league, a championship game was finally played. In 1977 the game was again cancelled. Holy Cross and Chaminade had an equal number of points and were declared co-champions.
With the introduction of the Metro Bowl in 1978, this game pitted the CHSFL champion against the PSAL champion, playing the CHSFL championship game took on a greater sense of urgency. Thus, since the 1978 Championship game, Chaminade defeated Holy Family 6-0, the league champion has been decided on the field.
For the past 30 years the best two teams in the CHSFL have battle for the crown of CHSFL League Champion. With the continued growth of the league, there are currently 21 schools participating in the CHSFL, the playoffs have expanded to three levels.
Click here to view a list of past league champions
Click here to view a list of past league championship game results