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Tom Mix, Published December 05 2012

West Fargo's Sheyenne HS could be ready for varsity football in 2014

WEST FARGO – West Fargo Sheyenne High School opens its doors in the fall of 2015, but varsity football could be played at the school in 2014.

The 2014 start-up date is one year ahead of the projected athletics phase-in model drafted last spring, which had varsity football starting at Sheyenne in 2015.

West Fargo High School activities director Curt Jones said that he has contacted the North Dakota High School Activities Association and all of the schools in Class 3A about the likelihood of Sheyenne fielding a varsity team in 2014.

Sheyenne and West Fargo had split freshman teams this fall, and Jones said 22 athletes made up the Sheyenne squad. The dividing enrollment line between the schools is Interstate 94. Students residing south of Interstate 94 will attend Sheyenne.

The 2014 Mustangs football team would have no seniors.

“I would say we would have a varsity team without a junior varsity and a freshman team along with that,” Jones said.

According to the phase-in model, Sheyenne was projected to only have freshman and junior varsity teams in 2014.

Jones cited several concerns with waiting until 2015 to sponsor a varsity program.

“The problem is that if we don’t enter in 2014 as a varsity team, it would be hard to schedule games with only a junior varsity team that year,” Jones said. “And it is going to be hard to hire a head coach and say, ‘You are the head coach of the Sheyenne team, but it is going to be a junior varsity program that first year.’ ”

“If you say you are a varsity program, they have to give you games. … To be fair, we need to start our program when a coach can start working with kids hopefully next year and start building to a varsity program the year after that.”

One problem that complicates the 2014 date is that it would mean starting up in the middle of a two-year football plan, which is how the state determines its football scheduling and a school’s division classification.

Sheyenne would play in the 3A division, which currently has 14 schools. The Mustangs would be a member of the East Region which is comprised of seven schools (West Fargo, Fargo North, Fargo South, Fargo Davies, Grand Forks Central, Grand Forks Red River and Devils Lake).

Adding Sheyenne to 3A will create some scheduling difficulties, but a school joining 3A in the middle of a two-year plan has happened recently. Fargo Davies started varsity football a year ahead of schedule in the fall of 2010 after it split with Fargo South.

“The (NDHSAA) has had to deal with it before,” Jones said. “It isn’t going to be a total mystery.

“Davies was more a sudden change to deal with. At least we are giving people a two-year notice that this could happen. I think they appreciate us being up front and giving an early forecast versus a move that is going to happen the very next fall.”

Jones said the ideal number of players on the 2014 Sheyenne varsity would be in the 40 to 50 range.

“Obviously, if the numbers are not there, then we are not going to pursue it,” Jones said. “But if the numbers and the size of the kids are going to give them a fair chance to compete, then we want to go that route.

“The problem that may come about is that if we didn’t have many juniors that had some size and strength to them. Then I think we would be putting the kids at risk. That is going to be a key component.”

Sheyenne’s athletic facilities will not be fully operational until 2014.

A West Fargo freshman team along with a Sheyenne freshman and sophomore team will all be housed at the Sheyenne campus next fall.

Jones said there is no firm date in which a head coach for the Sheyenne varsity team must be hired.

“The staffing is going to be a key piece to this,” Jones said. “We are going to be interviewing some people this spring for next fall’s sophomore volleyball, basketball and football teams. Those are going to be key people that we need to hire. Whether or not those people ultimately become the head varsity coaches at Sheyenne is going to be determined on how comfortable they are after working with that group after one season.”


Readers can reach Forum reporter Tom Mix at (701) 241-5562