Chris Murphy, Published January 23 2014
MSHSL passes District Football Scheduling for Minnesota high school footballFARGO – In an effort to help make scheduling easier statewide, the Minnesota State High School League passed a proposal known as District Football Scheduling at a board meeting Thursday.
The decision – which will be imposed for the 2015 season – produced mixed emotions among area coaches.
“It’s like when you have an uncomfortable shoe,” Hawley coach Peder Naatz said. “You can’t wait to get rid of it and give it to someone else. We’re taking care of problems for some people, but it will cause some problems for other people. You have to just roll with it and make the best of it. You’re going to do it whether you like or not.”
The main factor of District Football Scheduling is the idea of placement committees from around the state placing teams in scheduling groups based on school size, geography and strength of programs. Teams in each group will make their eight-game, regular-season schedule among other teams in the group.
A survey completed by 227 schools stated 94 (41 percent) had challenges with regular-season scheduling in the past 10 years. District Football Scheduling is the MSHSL’s current solution.
The fear for a lot of teams is losing rivalries.
“(Enrollment difference) can’t go more than a 2-to-1 ratio, which means we’re not going to be with Perham,” Barnesville coach Bryan Strand said. “It’ll be interesting to see where it all lies out. Obviously, we won’t know anything until districts are mapped out.”
One portion of the proposal states that teams will have a chance to send in requests to committees to keep rivalries going despite differences in size or location. Districts will be realigned every two years.
“Obviously, we want to keep playing Pelican Rapids, Roseau and Warroad,” Naatz said. “Over the last three years of us joining the (Heart O’ Lakes Conference), we’ve had a good relationship with them. Nobody likes change usually. Especially the older you are, but hopefully it works out well for the betterment of everyone.”
Not all teams expect to have much of a difference when districts are all said and done.
“It’s basically what we’re doing here anyway,” Mahnomen coach John Clark Jr. said. “We have a conference with 14 teams, and we break it into two groups. It won’t be a whole lot of changes for us unless they do something goofy. Sometimes change is hard, but I guess I’m not really bothered by it.”
Moorhead falls in the same category as Mahnomen.
“The (scheduling) issue is never going to go away,” Moorhead coach Kevin Feeney said. “The Central Lakes Conference kind of already went that route by adding us, Bemidji and Grand Rapids to get 12 teams last year. There’s a couple teams that could be added to that, but we’ll be playing the majority of teams we normally play.”
The first step in District Football Scheduling will be a committee of representatives from all areas placing schools into districts. Football districts will be formed at the beginning of April until late May. MSHSL will vote on districts June 2.
Some of the scheduling details are:
Scheduling groups would be created based on school size, geography and strength of programs. The group would consist of at least 16 or more schools whenever possible. The minimum size of any group would be 10 schools, and districts could include teams from more than one class.
A placement committee with representatives from areas around the state would put schools into scheduling groups. Decisions would be looked at by MSHSL's Activities Director Advisory Committee and must be approved by the MSHSL Board of Directors.
Districts would be realigned every two years to adjust to changes in enrollment, 9-man teams, co-ops and programs being dropped.
Enrollment difference in any group should be no more than a ratio of 2-to-1, and when possible the ratio would be less than 2-to-1.
All schools have the chance to provide information such as important rivalries, travel issues and willingness to play larger schools or travel further for a harder schedule to the placement committee.
Class 6A would follow the same plan as other classes, and some Class 5A teams may be included in groups with 6A teams based on enrollment and geography.
Each school has to play all eight of its regular-season games within its district unless a district has an odd number of schools. If a district has an odd number of schools, Zero Week games will be used to have a full schedule or games could be scheduled against out-of-state teams.
Each district would create schedules for teams in the district. Districts can create conferences or other sub-groups within the district.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Chris Murphy at (701) 241-5548