Previews and schedules ...Division II, team-by-team

Division III, team-by-team

Division II schedules

Division III schedules

Call Europe’s smallest football-playing high schools the “Airline League.”

There will be no yellow buses bouncing down country roads for half of the Department of Defense Dependents Schools’ Division III football teams.

They fly much of the time. They have to.

With Menwith Hill, Alconbury and London Central in England, Brussels on the northwest coast of the continent, Rota in southwest Spain and Sigonella in Sicily, Division III’s northern league easily has the largest footprint of any prep conference in the world.

Superimposed on a map of the United States, the triangle formed by the conference’s northernmost school, Menwith Hill, and the southwest and southeast extremities — Rota and Sigonella — would cover an area from Chicago to Houston to Tampa. That’s quite a spread for a league whose schools have average enrollment of about 150 students.

But the players don’t seem to mind. In fact, they love it.

“It’s a motivator,” said Menwith Hill coach Pete Resnick, whose Mustangs close their regular season Oct. 11 with a two-airport, 1,250-mile flight from Leeds, England, to Cadiz, Spain, for a matchup against Rota. “What teams in the States go from Chicago to Florida for a [high school] football game?”

For those away games, the Mustangs leave on Thursday in order to arrive in Spain or Italy in time, Resnick said. The team gets an educational tour of the area on Thursday and Friday, a chance to practice on Friday and play on Saturday.

“We have such a great opportunity,” Resnick went on. “Two years ago, we played at Sigonella, and it was great. We’re hoping to win a couple of games and get a playoff game in Italy to go along with this year’s trip to Spain.”

Resnick, whose team generally practices and plays in the chilly mists of Yorkshire, added that his team relishes its warm-weather games in Spain and Italy. But the warm-weather schools enjoy their opportunities just as much.

“Some players come out for the team just for the travel,” said Sigonella coach Fred Wilmot. “We fly everywhere.”

In the south, teams don’t fly anywhere, at least during the regular season, but they still travel.

“Compared to the States, where you play across town, Vicenza sounds like it’s a long way away,” said Marcus George of defending European D-3 champion Ansbach, “but the truth is that it’s just a day trip for us — a seven-hour bus ride instead of a 12- 13- 14-hour trip to England. We can leave early Friday and get home by midnight Saturday.”

While the south bus trips might seem more sensible than those long flights in the north, George said far-flung teams, such as Sigonella, find it as economical to travel to England as it does to play fellow Italy team Vicenza.

“They costed it out,” George said, “and Sigonella-to-Venice and Sigonella-to-London were about the same.”

All of which provides veterans such as Joe Fiedler of Brussels, whose Brigands fly to Cadiz this week for a game against Rota, as food for thought.

“I came in at Iceland in the ’70s, when DODDS had all the money in the world,” Fiedler said, “and they wouldn’t let us travel. Now, DODDS doesn’t have any money, and we spend $6,000 to go to Rota and $6,000 again to go Sigonella.”

Times change, coach.

Enjoy your flight.

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