MSHSL board of directors approves reorganization for football scheduling

The Minnesota State High School League Board of Directors unanimously adopted a plan to place all member schools with football programs into districts starting with the 2015 season.

That plan hopes to reduce scheduling problems and travel distance for state football squads. Members of each district will divide the district into sub-districts, and then create a full schedule for each team.

The intent was to make sure the placement of schools will not negatively affect traditional rivalries or preferred opponents.

Many state coaches and athletic directors have been seeking a solution for scheduling problems in recent years.

For example, large-enrollment schools from the Lake Conference have been forced to compete against out-of-state teams at times. Wayzata and Eden Prairie played only seven regular season games instead of eight a few seasons. Eden Prairie had to travel to Winnipeg for a non-conference game several years ago to fill out its schedule. And the Eagles had to pay Minneapolis South to ensure a non-conference opponent in recent seasons.

The recent MSHSL football changes will not affect sectional playoffs. Regular-season schedules will be made at the district level, with most games being intra-district.

Districts could form sub-districts resulting in some teams playing each other more regularly. Work on football scheduling is beginning and the league is encouraging districts to establish 2015 and 2016 schedules by Nov. 1.

Football districts range from 12 to 28 schools based on geography, enrollment and strength of programs.

“Everybody needs to keep in mind that this is just a step in the process of developing actual schedules for our member schools,” said MSHSL 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.”

A 10-member District Football Placement Committee met five times since mid-March to place schools in districts, using enrollment, geography 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.

Area schools have been placed in the following football districts:

Suburban–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.

West Metro–Andover, Anoka, Blaine, Centennial, Champlin Park, Coon Rapids, Eden Prairie, Edina, Hopkins, Maple Grove, Minnetonka, Osseo, Prior Lake, Shakopee, Totino Grace and Wayzata.

East Metro–Apple Valley, Burnsville, Cretin-Derham Hall, East Ridge, Eastview, Farmington, Forest Lake, Hastings, Henry Sibley, Hill-Murray, Lakeville North, Lakeville South, Mahtomedi, Mounds View, North St. Paul, Rosemount, Roseville, South St. Paul, St. Thomas Academy, Stillwater, Tartan, White Bear Lake and Woodbury.

Twin City–Blake, Breck, Brooklyn Center, Columbia Heights, Concordia Academy, Fridley, Minneapolis Edison, North, Patrick Henry, South, Southwest, Washburn, Minnehaha Academy, Mound Westonka, New Life Academy, Providence Academy, Roosevelt, St. Paul Central, St. Paul Harding, Spectrum, St. Agnes, St. Anthony Village, St. Croix Lutheran, St. Paul Como Park, Highland Park, Humboldt, Johnson and St. Paul Academy.