SPARTA, NJ – The Sparta-Pope John Football rivalry will not continue in the 2016 season. Sparta Superintendent Dennis Tobin made the announcement at the Board of Education meeting on Monday night. 

In the auditorium of the Mohawk Avenue School, Tobin told the board and the audience members that he had received a letter from Pope John officials requesting an independent game for next year.

Tobin said he had spoken with the athletic director and football coaching staff at Sparta High School. “They said they were going to focus on following the conference schedule,” said Tobin, eliminating the possibility of a Spartans–Lions game. 

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Earlier this fall, the Northwest Jersey Athletic Conference athletic directors voted to realign the football conference for 2016 and 2017 seasons. The Board of Governors, comprised of the schools’ principals or headmasters, finalized the realignment by voting to uphold the athletic directors’ decision.

“The realignment has public schools playing publics and parochials playing parochials,” said Tobin.

Sparta will play in a league reminiscent of the old Skyland Division with schools such as High Point, Jefferson, Lakeland, West Milford and Vernon. 

In an earlier interview, Sparta football head coach Frank Marciano said, “I actually think our league gets harder.”

It what appears to have been the last game, Sparta lost to Pope John on the Lions’ turf on Sunday Oct 4, by a score of 44-27. Sparta’s quarterback Thomas DeGasperis has been sidelined ever since, having broken his hand in that game. 

Sparta will host Morris Hills on Saturday at 1 p.m.