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Chris Murphy, Published December 05 2013

Minnesota football state championships approved for TCF Bank Stadium in 2015

FARGO – The Minnesota State High School League board of directors approved Thursday to play Minnesota high school football championship games – known as the Prep Bowl – Nov. 13-14 at TCF Bank Stadium in 2015.

The MSHSL had already approved a move to TCF Bank Stadium for 2014, while the Vikings build a new stadium. The 2014 title games will be held Nov. 21-22.

With the 2015 Prep Bowl being two weeks earlier than usual, decisions will need to be made regarding the schedule.

“I think the only thing they could do is start the season a week earlier and eliminate that first round of the section playoffs,” Barnesville football coach Bryan Strand said. “You’re still going to have the same amount of sections, so you’re still going to have three rounds of the prep tournament. Oct. 31 would be your first round (of the 2015 state tournament). That’s when we usually do our second round of the section playoffs.”

No decisions were made Thursday, but options discussed included starting the season a week earlier, cutting the regular season to seven games and eliminating first-round section playoff games.

“If you had a zero week game this season, you started Aug. 5,” Strand said. “If you have a zero week game (in 2015) you’re going to be starting in July? Until you see it on paper, it’s tough to fathom how they are going to do this. It’s kind of crazy.”

With the University of Minnesota hosting Illinois and Wisconsin on Nov. 21 and 28, respectively, there are not many options. The Fargodome was thrown around as an idea, but, ultimately, MSHSL went with TCF. A vote on the plan for the football schedule in 2015 is expected at the next meeting Jan. 23.

“If they choose to leave the starting date where it is and get rid of the first round of section playoffs, I’d be all for that,” Hawley football coach Peder Naatz said. “Other than the (No. 4 versus No. 5 seed) game, you rarely have an upset in those first-round games. Either way, we don’t really have a choice. We just have to deal with it.”

Moorhead begs to differ. Spuds head football coach Kevin Feeney isn’t a fan of a team’s playoff fate being decided by a computer like big-time college football. Feeney had to play the computer game this year when there was a three-way tie for the No. 2 seed in Class 5A, Section 8 and the QRF tiebreaker dropped the Spuds to the No. 4 seed and forced them to play a first-round playoff game.

“Getting rid of teams throughout the playoffs would be a tough deal to swallow,” Feeney said. “It’s hard to say a 4-5 game that there’s a lot of difference and even those 3-6 games are competitive. If there’s a tie, we’re going to base it on the QRF and have computers picking? Then you’re becoming like the BCS.”

At Thursday’s meeting, the board also approved the placement of state soccer tournaments in 2014 and 2015. Both will be at Husky Stadium at St. Cloud State. In 2014, semifinals and finals will be played Oct. 28-30, and in 2015, the semifinals and finals will be Nov. 3-5.

The board also approved the expansion of varsity baseball rosters from 18 to 20 players.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Chris Murphy at (701) 241-5548