DCL potential expansion narrowed to four

The Dual County League has invited Billerica, Chelmsford, Tewksbury and North Andover to meet with league officials next Monday morning at Acton-Boxborough High School, about possibly joining their league.

The meeting, which will be closed off to the media, is expected to finish by 11 a.m. A decision could come quickly after, or could drag on into June, Westford Academy principal Jim Antonelli said this afternoon.

Late last week, the Boston Herald reported that the four schools mentioned were invited to meet today, sparking days of speculation. As many as 15 schools reportedly applied to join the DCL when the 12-team league initially expressed interest in expansion. Next fall, the league will drop to 10 teams when Arlington officially becomes the 12th member of the Middlesex League, and Tyngsborough moves into Midland-Wachusett League's "C" Division, moving from the Eastern Mass to Central Mass district in the process.

"To take on 10 seemed an awful lot," Antonelli said. "To go six and six, or seven and seven (with large and small divisions), what we're looking at would be much easier for scheduling. I hope those four schools will be committed for a lengthy time for this. I think we scared some schools with the [possibility of an] 18-team league with divisions, even then some schools would be left out."

"Of the 15 schools that applied, they were best fit in terms of geographically, levels of programs, facilities, the whole gamut," Concord-Carlisle Athletic Director Barry Haley said. "For two years, we couldn’t get anyone apply, then for everyone to suddenly apply, we were kind of, 'What's going on here?'. We've spent a lot of time deciding what we want, and what best fits the need of all schools in the league. We could just take all the big schools, but what does that do to all the little schools?"