Despite some blowback, the Minnesota State High School League will be moving forward in its district scheduling plan for the 2015 season.
Back in January, the MSHSL approved to arrange Minnesota high school football teams into “districts” with the hope teams will play more schools with similar enrollments and in a closer vicinity to each other.
All the details of the plan still need to be worked out. However, the districts will be comprised of either 14 or 16 teams and teams will play eight-game schedules.
The concept was established in part because teams like Eden Prairie and Wayzata, two perennial powerhouses and part of the currently disbanded Lake Conference, struggle to put together full, eight-game regular-season schedules each year.
At the League’s Board of Directors meeting on Thursday, April 3, five activities directors from around the state spoke about the district football plan. It was reported by John Millea of the MSHSL, two - Dave Schroeder of Maple Lake and Tom Bauman of Buffalo - asked the board members to delay the start of district football until 2016. The three other activities directors – Mounds View’s Bob Madison, St. James’ Les Zellmann and Wayzata’s Jaime Sherwood – supported the League’s current plan for 2015.
Park Activities Director Phil Kuemmel said his school is not in favor of the idea of district scheduling.
“We have never had a scheduling issue and do not anticipate having issues down the road,” Kuemmel said. “We picked up Hastings as a non-conference game next year and it could not have worked out better. Our Region was opposed to district football by a vote of 15-1.”
The MSHSL will now tab a statewide committee to begin creating the districts this spring and the districts could be finalized at the June 2 MSHSL board meeting. The committee will be comprised of representatives of schools of all sizes and areas of the state.
“There are not enough details out there to know if it will be successful – who will lead each district, how will policies be created, how will districts be created, what if schools do not come to a consensus on who plays whom within each district?,” Kuemmel said.
Kuemmel did say who the other schools are in the new district will play a part in how he feels down the road about the League’s concept.
“If we are put in a district of schools with East Ridge, Woodbury, Hastings, North St, Paul, Tartan, then I would say it would be a great thing,” Kuemmel said. “If we are put in a district of schools with Eastview, Rosemount, Eagan, Cretin, then I would say it would be a bad thing.”
Park head coach Darin Glazier said it was “too early to tell” if the change would have much of an effect on his squad.
“I have no idea right now, but I don’t think it can get much tougher than what we face right now in the Suburban East,” Glazier said. “I would guess we will continue playing many of the teams we play now, but you never know.”
East Ridge Activities Director Jon Hinzman said he was “non-partial” on the idea.
“I don’t believe it will impact our team much,” Hinzman said. “We will identify the teams we need to play and prepare to play them. It has the potential to create new rivalries, but overall it has the potential to provide us other teams to play and prepare for upcoming events as we currently do.”
Hinzman didn’t really see any big pros or cons.
“It’s something new and may take time to be accustomed to, but it provides schools games when they may have been unable to identify in-state games prior,” he said.
Kuemmel, however, said he thought it would be a shame to lose certain things like playing for a conference championship or for the athletes to earn all-conference honors.
Neither Hinzman, Kuemmel or Glazier saw this concept spreading to other sports in the near future.
“Football is kind of its own animal when it comes to scheduling issues,” Glazier said.