corey.davis@gaflnews.com

What started as a way to give smaller public and private schools a better shot at winning a title grew into something a lot bigger.

The Big Ten Conference started two years ago with the intent of helping schools unlikely to make the state football playoffs, a chance to play for a conference title.

Two years later, the conference is possibly expanding to 12 teams for the 2011-2012 season.   

Branford head football coach Bill Wiles was the conference commissioner and a huge supporter of starting the conference after pulling his program out of district play deciding instead to go independent.

Unfortunately, after several of the smaller schools moved into the rural league, several of the private schools went behind the public school’s backs and former their own conference.   

“We were talking about expanding the conference and what happened is several of the private schools didn’t think the rural league would pass,” Wiles said. “We had a meeting and what we didn’t know was that day several of them had already formed a new league, we left the meeting thinking we had a conference, a day later it came apart at the seems.”

St. Johns Lutheran, St. Johns Country Day, Maclay, St. Joseph, Oak Hall, Aucilla Christian, St. Francis formed their own conference instead.

Under the old conference this past fall, the Western Division consisted of Jacksonville Bishop Snyder, Branford, Bell, Bronson and St. Augustine St. Joseph, while the Eastern Division consisted of Jacksonville Mandarin Christian, Gainesville St. Francis, Gainesville Oak Hall and Orange Park St. Johns Country Day.

The East was unbalanced, with four teams as Jacksonville Cedar Creek Christian dropped out prior to the season starting.

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