PREP FOOTBALL: MSHSL adopts district scheduling plan for 2015, beyond

BROOKLYN CENTER – 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.

On Monday, the MSHSL Board of Directors 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.

For several years, the MSHSL 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,” Kevin Merkle, MSHSL associate director, said 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.

“We are indebted to the members of the District Football Placement Committee for their diligence and hard work in this process,” Merkle said. “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.”

2015 MSHSL FOOTBALL DISTRICT ALIGNMENTS

(Enrollments in parenthesis)

SOUTH CENTRAL (28 TEAMS)

Albert Lea (721), Marshall (668), Worthington (596), New Ulm (528), Waseca (521), Jordan (514), Belle Plaine (457), Fairmont (454), Tri-City United (450), St. Peter (444), Luverne (331), St. James Area (327), Sibley East (319), Blue Earth Area (310), Jackson County Central (319), Norwood-Young America (308), Redwood Valley (287), Maple River (282), Pipestone Area (281), Martin County West (262), LeSueur-Henderson (258), Waterville-Elysian-Morristown (249), New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva (235), Gibbon-Fairfax-Winthrop (233), Lake Crystal Wellcome Memorial (213), Windom Area (210), Mayer Lutheran (186), Lester Prairie/Holy Trinity (173).

SOUTHWEST (18 TEAMS)

Tracy-Milroy-Balaton (199), Lakeview (190), Minnesota Valley Lutheran (185), Murray County Central (182), Lac qui Parle Valley (177), Ortonville (164), Minneota (162), Cedar Mountain/Comfrey (160), Adrian (159), Springfield (158), Russell-Tyler-Ruthton (149), Canby (144), Dawson-Boyd (142), Sleepy Eye (135), Wabasso (130), New Ulm Cathedral (124), Sleepy Eye St. Mary’s (121), Red Rock Central (110).

MID STATE (26 TEAMS)

Melrose Area (421), Rockford (421), Montevideo (352), Morris Area/Chokio-Alberta (351), Pierz (332), Maple Lake (307), Sauk Centre (304), Holdingford (290), Minnewaska Area (275), Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted (273), Benson (261), Paynesville Area (247), Eden Valley-Watkins (240), Yellow Medicine East (227), Bird Island-Olivia-Lake Lillian (217), Prairie Valley (195), Royalton (192), Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City (194), Upsala/Swanville (186), West Central Area (186), Kimball Area (182), Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa (166), Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg (155), Browerville (150).

9-MAN SOUTH (21 (TEAMS)

Mountain Lake Area (140), West Lutheran (139), Edgerton/Ellsworth (137), Randolph (137), Alden-Conger (131), Southwestern United (126), Fulda (122), Westbrook-Walnut Grove (119), Grenada-Huntley-East Chain/Truman (116), Madelia (114), Houston (111), Lyle-Pacelli (108), Cleveland (105), Spring Grove (93), Lanesboro (85), Grand Meadow (84), Hills-Beaver Creek (75), Mabel-Canton (75), Glenville-Emmons (72), Nicollet (72), LeRoy-Ostrander (69).