Huskies football hits the road for first time this season

The St. Anthony Village High School football team plays its first road game of the season this week when it visits Tri-Metro Conference foe Concordia Academy on Friday. Both teams opened the season last Friday but results of those games were unavailable because of an early holiday deadline.

The Huskies opened up against Brooklyn Center, which had already played a game thanks to the Zero Week exception. The Centaurs opened the season on Aug. 22 with a 50-25 victory over St. James.

Concordia played an afternoon game at St. Paul Academy/Mounds Park Academy in week one. The contest was a non-conference game since St. Paul Academy and Mounds Park Academy vacated the Tri-Metro Conference at the end of the 2013-14 school year. 

St. Anthony ventures to Concordia Academy riding a four-game winning streak over the Beacons. The most recent meeting between the two teams was in 2012, when St. Anthony won 42-25. The Huskies beat Concordia twice in 2011 and once in 2010.

Concordia Academy's most recent win in the series came in 2009, when the Beacons won 20-9 at Dennison Field.

Friday's game is a bit of a David vs. Goliath match-up in terms of school enrollment. St. Anthony Village is among the three largest schools in the Tri-Metro Conference while Concordia Academy is among the three smallest.

Over the past two seasons, the Tri-Metro has allowed teams to opt out of playing certain opponents. St. Anthony's eight-game regular-season schedule features all conference opponents except for Columbia Heights. Concordia Academy has two non-conference games on its schedule and does not play Tri-Metro teams DeLaSalle and conference newcomers Fridley and Holy Angels. 

Fridley and Holy Angels, along with Columbia Heights, are new to the Tri-Metro Conference this season after their previous conferences dissolved. All three were assigned to the Tri-Metro by the Minnesota State High School League after being rejected by every conference to which they applied for admission.

Holy Angels comes over from the Missota Conference, which broke up thanks in part to the formation of the Metro West Conference, which plucked Chaska and Chanhassen from the Missota. 

Columbia Heights and Fridley come from the North Suburban Conference, which at one point had 11 schools but lost three (Chisago Lakes, North Branch, St. Francis) to the Mississippi 8 in 2013 and two (Robbinsdale Cooper and St. Louis Park) to the Metro West in 2014.

The addition of Columbia Heights, Fridley and Holy Angels prompted six schools to leave the Tri-Metro Conference and form their own conference. Blake, Breck, Minnehaha Academy, Mounds Park Academy, Providence Academy and St. Paul Academy are now part of the Independent Metro Athletic Conference.

The disparity in school size was one of the reasons cited by the departing schools for their decision. Only two schools (St. Anthony and DeLaSalle) had enrollments above 600 last year but that number jumped to four with Holy Angels and Fridley coming on board. Holy Angels and Fridley became the two largest schools in the Tri-Metro and Columbia Heights in the fifth largest.

Things will change again next year in terms of football scheduling when the state switches to the "District" format. Every high school football team in the state has been assigned to a district of at least 12 teams and will play their eight-game, regular-season schedules against teams in their district.

The district format will reunite eight of the current Tri-Metro Conference teams and the five that departed last spring. Also in the district are all of the teams from the St. Paul and Minneapolis city conferences, one independent (Spectrum) and one from the Wright County Conference (Mound-Westonka).

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

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