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A look at high school football throughout the state

Monday, August 24, 2009

Top 10: Cheer/Dance Teams

The debate’s been raging for many, many years now. Is cheerleading a sport? Whether you agree that it is or not, the CIAC, the governing body of high school sports in the state, has awarded state championship plaques and medals to teams and athletes since the 1998-1999 season.

The cheerleading and pom-pom squads are a big part of high school football games. Not only do they perform during halftime, but they decorate the school for pep rallies and make signs and banners that are on display the day of the game. And, of course, their enthusiasm and team spirit is perhaps their most valuable aspect.

I figured I would take a week off from honoring football teams and their players to present a list of the Top 10 Cheer/Dance teams. Championship medals for best hip-hop dance team, in a jazz division and a pom-pom division were handed out for the first time this past spring.

Cheer and Dance teams have their own page on the CIAC website ( and on the National Federation of State High School Associations site(

Ranking are based on titles won, and appearances in the top 3 of teams’ respective divisions, since 1998. From 1998 to the 2003-2004 season, there were just three divisions (L, M, S). In 2004-2005, Class LL was added.

1. Holy Cross
The Crusaders, out of the Naugatuck Valley League, have won eight titles and have made the top 3 10 times. Holy Cross won five straight Class M titles from 2000-2004, and captured the title again in 2006, 2007 and 2009.

The Crusaders were second in 2005 and third in 1999. The only time they did not finish in at least the top 3 was in 2008, when they placed fifth.

2. Wolcott
The Eagles, another NVL school, have a long history of success in the co-ed division.

Wolcott has won the co-ed title seven times. The Eagles dominated that division by winning the championship from 2002-2005. Wolcott also captured the title in 2009, 2000 and 1999. It placed second in 2006 and third in 2008. The Eagles’ all-female team also placed third in Class M in 2001.

3. Danbury
The Hatters, out of the Fairfield County Interscholastic Athletic Conference, won the Class LL title in 2006 and 2004. Danbury claimed Class L titles in 2003, 2002 and 2000.

The Hatters also placed in the top 3 six other times. Danbury finished third in Class LL in 2009 and 2008, second in Class LL in 2007, second in Class LL in 2005, second in Class L in 2001 and third in Class L in 1999.

4. Sacred Heart
Another NVL school, the Hearts have excelled in Class S. Sacred Heart has won titles in 2006, 2005, 2003 and 2001.

The Hearts placed second in 2004 and 2002, and third in 2007 and 1999.

5. Shelton
The Gaels, from the Southern Connecticut Conference, won two titles (Class LL in 2007 and Class L in 2001).

Shelton finished as the runner-up in Class LL in 2009 and second in Class L in 2003 and 2000. The Gaels finished third in Class LL in 2006 and 2005, and third in Class L in 2004.

6. Nonnewaug
Aside from Holy Cross, Nonnewaug, whose football team plays in the Pequot Conference, has been a dominating presence in Class M.

The Chiefs won the Class M title in 2008 and 2005. Nonnewaug finished second in 2003 and 1999. The team placed third in 2009, 2007, 2006 and 2004.

7. East Harford
This Central Connecticut Conference representative has succeeded in the co-ed division. The Hornets captured the title in 2008, 2007 and 2006. East Hartford also placed second in 2005.

The all-female squad was the Class LL champion in 2009.

8. Ansonia
The Chargers, the fourth NVL school to make the list, won Class S titles in 2007, 2002 and 1999.

Ansonia also placed second in 2003 and 2001, and third in 2004. The Chargers have competed in Class M the past two seasons.

9. Cromwell
Not just the football team, which won Class S for the school’s first football title last season, has reason to celebrate. The cheerleading squad won Class S titles in 2008 and 2004.

The Panthers placed second in 2007, and third in 2006.

10. Waterford
The Lancers captured the Class L title in 2008 and 2005. The team placed third in Class M in 2000.

The co-ed squad placed second in 2009.

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