District scheduling could prove helpful for area prep football teams

For the past few years or so, the Minnesota State High School League has tried to find a solution to the scheduling woes that have plagued prep football. Teams in small conferences or in no conference at all have found it difficult to fill out an entire eight-game regular-season schedule.

What the MSHSL came up with is a plan called “district scheduling.” Every high school football team in the state is now a member of one of 18 districts and starting in the 2015 season will play eight regular-season games against other teams in the same district.

District scheduling was approved in January and districts were announced in June. A committee assigned teams to districts using enrollment, geography, like schools and current conference membership and current opponents as key criteria.

Schools were also allowed to submit requests for three teams they would like to continue to play and, according to the MSHSL, 90 percent of those requests were honored.

Up to this point, the three Bulletin-area high school football teams haven’t had too much trouble fleshing out their schedules each year, but that could have changed because of some conference changes that each is going through in this upcoming school year.

Mounds View

The Mustangs didn’t need to find any non-conference teams to play for the past few years because its conference, the Suburban East, had 10 teams. The Mustangs and the other nine SEC teams played conference opponents in all eight regular-season games.

District scheduling would have been nice to have for the 2014 season for Mounds View because the Suburban East Conference has a bit of a new look with the departure of Hastings to the new Metro East Conference. With only nine teams in SEC, eight of the nine were forced to find a non-conference opponent for this fall.

Mounds View’s non-conference week ended up being in week six and finding a non-conference opponent that late into the season proved difficult. The Mustangs ended up having to go out of Minnesota to find a game, something that district scheduling is set up to avoid.

On Friday, Oct. 3, Mounds View plays at Menasha High School. Menasha, Wisconsin, is located about 40 minutes southwest of Green Bay.

With the way the conference schedule is set up this season, Mounds View plays only three home games against SEC opponents, so it was really hoping to schedule its non-conference game at home. That wasn’t possible, however, so the Mustangs must settle for only three home games and five road games, including a long, expensive road trip.

Next year, Mounds View’s eight games will be played against teams from the Metro East district, which consists of 26 teams, nine of which are the current members of the Suburban East Conference. Nine other teams in the district are from the Metro East Conference and the other eight are from the South Suburban Conference.

Each district is allowed to divide in sub-districts as it sees fit. That would allow for the Metro East district to divide along the conference lines and fill in the hole in each team’s schedule with a team from one of the other conferences.

Irondale

For the Knights, district scheduling addresses a problem that it had under control since joining the Northwest Suburban Conference. The move was made necessary by the breakup of the North Suburban, of which Irondale was a member for many years. The North Suburban had at least eight members for quite a few years, meaning that each team was usually forced to find only one non-conference game per year.

Irondale will play just one season of Northwest Suburban Conference football before moving into the Suburban District, which consists of 16 teams from four different conferences. The new Metro West Conference makes up half of the teams, while four come from the Northwest Suburban and two each come from the Tri-Metro and Wright County conferences.

Joining Irondale in the district is Spring Lake Park, which means that the annual game for the Block Trophy is likely to continue. Also in the district with the Knights are former North Suburban Conference teams Benilde-St. Margaret’s, Robbinsdale Cooper and St. Louis Park, all of whom are now in the Metro West Conference.

Nine of the other Northwest Suburban teams were placed in the West Metro district and Elk River is in the North Central district.

St. Anthony Village

The Huskies, like Irondale and Mounds View, saw their conference go through some changes. The Tri-Metro Conference had 13 members last school year and was scheduled to increase to 16. Some defections then dropped the population to 10, a number that prevents teams from having to find non-conference games assuming everyone is willing to play each other.

Some of the smaller schools are allowed to opt out of playing the bigger schools and then both are forced to find non-conference games.

New to the Tri-Metro Conference in the fall will be Columbia Heights, Fridley and Holy Angels. The MSHSL placed Columbia Heights and Fridley in the Tri-Metro following the breakup of the North Suburban Conference and placed Holy Angels there after the Missota Conference disbanded.

The addition of those schools didn’t sit well with some of the schools already in the conference and six of them decided to secede and form their own conference. Blake, Breck, Minnehaha Academy, Mounds Park Academy, Providence Academy and St. Paul Academy left the Tri-Metro to form the Independent Metro Athletic Conference.

The five IMAC schools and eight from the Tri-Metro will be put back together for football in 2015 as part of the Twin City district. Those 12 teams are joined by the seven from the Minneapolis City Conference, the six from the St. Paul City Conference, Mound Westonka from the Wright County Conference and one independent in Spectrum.

Tri-Metro Conference teams not in the Twin City district are Holy Angels and DeLaSalle, which were placed in the Suburban district.

Brian Meyers can be reached at bmeyers@lillienews.com.

 

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