Football districts announced for 2015-16 seasons

The districts are in.

On Monday, June 2, the Minnesota State High School League adopted the District Football scheduling plan for the 2015 school year and beyond, as well as released the district assignments.

The district football idea was approved by the MSHSL Board in January 2014 and will dissolve the conference system for football only, beginning in the 2015-16 school year. Instead of the typical conferences, teams are now grouped into regional “districts” in hopes of alleviating some scheduling problems that have plagued teams in the passed. District members will divide into sub-districts and create a full eight-week regular season schedule for each team. According to a press release by the MSHSL, “in nearly all cases the placement of schools will not negatively affect traditional rivalries or preferred opponents.”

The League’s Board of Directors unanimously adopted the scheduling plan on June 2, after months of work by a separate District Placement Committee. The placement committee, made of coaches and administrators, worked to group schools into districts based on enrollment, geography, and like programs, while also considering individual schools’ preferences for long-standing opponents, rivalries, and current conferences.

“Everyone needs to keep in mind that this is just a step in the process of developing actual schedules for our member schools,” Associate Director Kevin Merkle said in the press release, as quoted from his presentation to the Board. “Some districts have a wide range in school enrollment and geography, but once the districts determine their sub-district alignments, most of the enrollment and geographical issues will be solved.”

Schools were given the opportunity to provide information to the committee, including up the three teams they would like to

to continue to face. According to the MSHSL release, more than 90 percent of requests were met and a “significant majority” of schools were placed into districts with teams they currently play.

Districts will soon be meeting to discuss placement and next steps, including the decision of sub-districts. The goal of the MSHSL is to have schedules completed for both the 2015 and 2016 seasons by Nov. 1, 2014.

“We are indebted to the members of the District Football Placement Committee for their diligence and hard work in this process,” Merkle said to the Board. “They put in an extraordinary amount of time and effort and their focus was always on doing what was best for our member schools and their students.”

Waconia will join the Suburban district, with only one Wright County Conference opponent still in the mix: Orono. Eight of the 11 current WCC schools are in the East Central district.

The Suburban district includes the Academy of Holy Angels, Benilde-St. Margaret’s, Bloomington Jefferson, Bloomington Kennedy, Chanhassen, Chaska, DeLaSalle, Irondale, Orono, Park Center, Richfield, Robbinsdale Armstrong, Robbinsdale Cooper, Spring Lake Park, St. Louis Park, and Waconia.

The Wildcats fall in the middle of the pack of the Suburban district, in terms of enrollment. Chanhassen is the largest school in the district with 1,568 students, while Holy Angels is the smallest at 624. Waconia falls comfortably in the middle with just over 1,000 enrolled.

Waconia head coach Sam Baker is looking forward to the beginning of district football.

“I’m pleased with our placement as all of the schools within the district are considered ‘like’ schools, which are similar to Waconia,” he said. “All are great programs and we are looking forward to this new era in Wildcat football.”

Mayer Lutheran was placed into the South Central district with 27 other schools, essentially combining the inner workings of the Big South, Gopher Valley, and Minnesota River conferences. The Crusaders join six other current Minnesota River Conference teams in the South Central, including Belle Plaine, Jordan, LeSueur-Henderson, NYA Central, Sibley East, and Tri-City United. Watertown-Mayer joins eight of the Wright County Conferences teams in the East Central district.

The South Central district also includes: Albert Lea, Blue Earth Area, Fairmont, G-F-W, Jackson County Central,  Lake Crystal-Wellcome Memorial, Lester Prairie/Holy Trinity, Luverne, Maple River, Marshall, Martin County West, New Richland-H-E-G, New Ulm, Pipestone Area, Redwood Valley, St. James Area, St. Peter, Waseca, Waterville-Elysian-Morristown, Windom, and Worthington.

LHS head coach Dean Aurich said the South Central district should be a good fit for Mayer Lutheran.

“With our smaller enrollment, I think this will be positive for our football program,” he said.

The South Central district ranges in enrollment from the smallest schools of Lester Prairie/Holy Trinity (173) and Mayer Lutheran (186) all the way up to Marshall (668) and Albert Lea, which has 721 students.

With the South Central district having 28 total teams, the MSHSL suggested that the district split into three subdistricts, as to be decided later. The League also released rationale statements to member schools citing why the district formed the way it did.

For full district listings, see http://www.mshsl.org/mshsl/DistrictFootballList.asp.

 

Contact Melissa Marohl at melissa.marohl@ecm-inc.com

 
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