7/24/2014 3:54:00 PM Vikings and 'Cats schedules likely to stay very similar after district alignments announced
by JEFF NORTON
Minnesota State High School League schools should no longer have a reason to travel far out of state to find football opponents or play less than an eight-game regular season football schedule. The League Board of Directors today unanimously adopted a plan that places all member schools with football programs into Districts. The members of each district will divide the district into sub-districts, and then create a full schedule for each team. In nearly all cases the placement of schools will not negatively affect traditional rivalries or preferred opponents.
According to Chisago Lakes Head Coach Bill Weiss, the new district that CL and North Branch are a part of will be split up into two sub-districts, leaving the whole Mississippi 8 Conference intact. For several years, League staff, school administrators and football coaches have sought a solution for schools that have had difficulty filling their regular season football schedule. A committee of coaches, athletic administrators and Board members developed a District Football Scheduling System that was approved by the Board in January. A separate District Placement Committee made up of coaches and administrators worked hard to group schools into districts based on enrollment, geography and like schools, while also considering individual school preferences for maintaining traditional opponents.
"Everyone needs to keep in mind that this is just a step in the process of developing actual schedules for our member schools," explained Associate Director Kevin Merkle in presenting the plan 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."
The recommendation approved by the Board of Directors included: • Placement of all schools in a scheduling district • Final decision on appeals from schools who requested to be placed in 9-Man • Bylaws to guide the work of each district • Allowing limited inter-district play upon approval of the Board of Directors • A plan for the initial meetings for each district that will be lead by members of the District Football Placement Committee.
The 10-member District Football Placement Committee met five times since mid-March to place schools in districts, using enrollment, geography, like schools and current conference membership and current opponents as key criteria. Schools were given the opportunity to provide information to the committee in advance, including three teams that they would like to continue to schedule. Those requests were reviewed carefully and were met to the extent possible. More than 90 percent of the schools' requests were met, and a significant majority of schools were placed in a district with most, if not all, of the schools that they now play.
Districts will have initial meetings in the near future to discuss the placements and the next steps in the process. The next major step will be for districts to decide on sub-district alignments. Once that is completed, schedules for the 2015 and 2016 seasons can be developed. The goal is for all schools to have a complete schedule for both years by Nov. 1, 2014. “I'm not surprised by the district scheduling,” Weiss said. “I think they tried to keep existing conferences intact and they did in our case. I don't think it will impact our scheduling too much.” The new district will feature all schools from the Mississippi 8 Conference and the Central Lakes Conference.
The district includes: Alexandria H.S. Bemidji High School Big Lake High School Brainerd High School Buffalo High School Cambridge-Isanti High School Chisago Lakes Area High School Duluth East High School Elk River High School Monticello High School Moorhead High School North Branch High School Princeton High School Rocori High School Rogers High School Saint Cloud Tech Sartell-Saint Stephen High School Sauk Rapids-Rice High School St. Cloud Apollo High School St. Francis High School St. Michael-Albertville H.S. Willmar High School