Change is in the air.

By: The Review | Towanda Daily Review | September 1, 2011


The days are starting to get a little shorter and the weather begins to get just a little bit cooler.

It's that time of the year again. The summer is giving way to fall and it's time for another year to begin for area high school sports.

With every new year brings new faces and changes across the region. However, this year the changes are much larger than ever before.

With the closing of Elkland High School and merging of Liberty and Mansfield for every sport except basketball, the NTL has gone through some radical changes.

In football the changes really aren't felt as Elkland didn't have a team and Mansfield, Liberty and North Penn had already been one team.

But, while nothing is impacted in football, that's not the case with soccer this season.

One of the biggest changes will be the merging of Liberty and Mansfield. Mansfield will have a girls team, with players from both schools, while Liberty will be the one hosting a merged boys team.

The NTL as a whole has also undergone some big changes, especially on the boys side, where teams will play their NTL East and West opponents three times a season, along with facing teams from the other side of the league once a season.

A lot has been made, and rightfully so, about the challenges that smaller schools will now face. Schools like Northeast Bradford and Sayre will now have to face a much bigger school like Athens three times during the same season.

However, one of the biggest problems with this move could be in preparing teams for districts.

The NTL doesn't have a tradition of success when it comes to the district playoffs for soccer. However, things have improved a lot in the last few years.

Athens picked up a win in their first Class AA district game, while Northeast Bradford went from a no-win team a couple of years earlier, to winning a district game last year.

A big part of the reason for the postseason success in recent years is teams got a chance to prepare for districts.

It became easier for Athens to face a team like Selinsgrove in the district playoffs when they were able to get a game against them during the regular season.

NTL teams were scheduling some of the best District 4 had to offer and it was helping when the postseason rolled around.

All of that has changed now. Instead of getting multiple non-league matchups, area teams will get more games against league foes, which could make it tough during districts. It will be much harder facing a team from the southern half of the district in the postseason when you haven't seen anyone outside of your league all year long.

Along with the big changes to the league, there will also be the usual changes among the faces of the NTL this year, only this time some very familiar faces are gone.

The district's all-time leading goal scorer for boys soccer in Taylor Skerpon has graduated and in girls' soccer Wellsboro (Alexis Getty), Northeast Bradford (Kylie Oley), Sayre (Megan Kyc), Towanda (Catherine Morelli) and Troy (Amanda Goodwin) all lost 50 goal scorers to graduation.

In football Towanda will look to defend their league title, but they won't have the services of two-time all-state player Cody Miller, who has graduated and is playing at Susquehanna this year. Trey Sites will assume the quarterback duties this year with Miller's departure.