Starting in 2023 the Red Devils will see some new faces on the gridiron as the Centennial Conference and New Jersey Athletic Conference have announced a partnership. Below is the joint release put forth by both leagues.
LANCASTER, Pa. and PITTMAN, N.J. – The Centennial Conference and New Jersey Athletic Conference have announced the formation of the Centennial vs. NJAC Football Challenge, a football scheduling agreement between the two conferences. The challenge will begin with a two-year agreement in 2023-24 with the potential for renewal for future seasons.
The scheduling alliance will see institutions from each conference fill available non-conference dates with a focus on travel distances and competitive balance. In addition to providing quality non-conference matchups, the collaboration will ensure that every team in each conference will be able to complete a full 10-game regular-season schedule. Both conferences will have seven football members in 2023, making a non-conference scheduling agreement between the neighboring conferences a natural fit.
More specific details, including game matchups in 2023 and 2024, will be announced at a later date.
The Centennial will have 10 football members for the final time in the 2022 season. Associate football members Juniata College, Moravian University, and Susquehanna University will compete in the Centennial in 2022 before departing for the newly-formed Landmark Football Conference beginning in 2023. Juniata and Moravian had been a part of CC football since 2007, while Susquehanna joined in 2010.
"Juniata, Moravian, and Susquehanna have been tremendous partners for the Centennial for many years; however, we recognize that this is a great opportunity for them," said Portia Hoeg, Centennial Conference Executive Director. "We are beyond excited to enter into an agreement with the NJAC to not only fill our football schedule but to affiliate with a league with an established football tradition. As one of the strongest football conferences in Division III, the Centennial Conference looks forward to new competitive challenges, while introducing our league to new areas of the country."
"This is an exciting opportunity for our seven NJAC football programs, and we're thrilled to be able to partner with the outstanding member institutions of the Centennial Conference," said Terry Small, NJAC Commissioner. "Collectively we think this Challenge will bring schedule stability for both conferences while providing unique competition opportunities for the student-athletes in both leagues."
Over the past 20 years, the Centennial and NJAC have combined for 46 NCAA playoff wins including four Final Four appearances and eight trips to the quarterfinal round.
Centennial football members include Dickinson College (Carlisle, Pa.), Franklin & Marshall College (Lancaster, Pa.), Gettysburg College (Gettysburg, Pa.), Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore, Md.), McDaniel College (Westminster, Md.), Muhlenberg College (Allentown, Pa.), and Ursinus College (Collegeville, Pa.).
NJAC football members include Christopher Newport University (Newport News, Va.), Kean University (Union, N.J.), Montclair State University (Montclair, N.J.), Rowan University (Glassboro, N.J.), Salisbury University (Salisbury, Md.), The College of New Jersey (Ewing, N.J.), and William Paterson University (Wayne, N.J.).
In its 29th year of excellence on and off the field, the Centennial Conference is one of the nation's elite small college conferences. The Conference was founded in 1981 as the Centennial Football Conference and began competition as an all-sports conference in the fall of 1993. The Centennial crowns champions in 24 sports and continues to sponsor intercollegiate programs of national prominence for women and men. On the average, Centennial members boast 21 varsity teams per campus, which is well above the national norm. The Conference has had 18 teams win NCAA titles - Washington College men's lacrosse (1998) and men's tennis (1994, 1997), Ursinus College field hockey (2006), Franklin & Marshall College (2007, 2009), and Gettysburg College (2011, 2017, 2018) women's lacrosse teams, Haverford men's cross country (2010), Johns Hopkins women's cross country team (2012-2013-14-16-17-19-21), and Johns Hopkins volleyball (2019).
The New Jersey Athletic Conference originated in 1957 (then called the New Jersey State Athletic Conference) when founding institutional members Glassboro State College (now Rowan University, Montclair State College (now Montclair State University), Jersey City State College (now New Jersey City University), Newark State College (now Kean University), Trenton State College (now The College of New Jersey), and William Paterson College (now William Paterson University) collectively partnered to compete in intercollegiate competition. The conference operated strictly as a men's sport athletic league until 1985, when the league members merged with their corresponding institutions in the Jersey Athletic Conference, a women's sport athletic conference. Since the founding of the conference in 1957, the NJAC has captured 63 NCAA Division III national team championships.