WHILE the 2023 Secondary Schools Football League (SSFL) premier division campaign nears an exciting climax, next year's premier division hopefuls will continue their quest for promotion when the championship division "Big 5" playoffs kickoff on Friday.
The five schools vying for promotion to the premier division for the 2024 season are Blanchisseuse Secondary, Miracle Ministries Pentecostal High School, Moruga Secondary, St Augustine Secondary and Tobago's Signal Hill Secondary. Miracle Ministries, who also contested the "Big 5" tournament last year, will kickstart this year's playoffs with an encounter against the North zone championship winners Blanchisseuse at the Edinburgh 500 Recreation Ground.
In St Augustine, East zone championship winners St Augustine Secondary will host South zone winners Moruga Secondary at the former school's compound. Both games will start at 3.40 pm. Tobago championship winners Signal Hill are on a bye for the first round of action.
Blanchisseuse, Moruga and Signal Hill all had impressive unbeaten records to clinch their respective zones. Blanchisseuse amassed 26 points in their ten matches and won the title on the final day of action in the North zone as they pipped the second-placed Trinity College Moka by a solitary point. Moruga were ruthless in their pursuit of top spot in the south as they won all of their ten matches and scored a whopping 46 goals in the process. Meantime, the reigning Tobago intercol champions Signal Hill secured the Tobago championship title with a game to spare after accumulating seven wins and two draws in nine matches.
St Augustine, who were relegated from the premier division last season, edged El Dorado East Secondary by two points to secure the east crown. Miracle Ministries earned top spot in the Central zone by a similar two-point margin after a Jabari Rodriguez hat-trick inspired them to a 5-3 win over Carapichaima West Secondary last Friday. After failing to secure promotion in their "Big 5" outing last season, Miracle Ministries will be hoping for better fortunes this season as they hunt a top-three spot and a place in the SSFL's top flight.
In last year's "Big 5" playoffs, St Mary's College, Arima North Secondary and Bishop's High School (Tobago) gained promotion for the ongoing premier division season. Bishop's will return to the championship division for next season though, as a midweek loss to Arima confirmed their relegation status alongside Chaguanas North Secondary and Pleasantville Secondary.
SOURCE: T&T Newsday