by Bruce Strand, Sports editor
A major change for high school football scheduling will take place starting in 2015 due action taken by the Minnesota State High School League on Thursday.
By a vote of 19-1, the MSHSL approved a district scheduling plan which will result in scrapping most if not all existing conferences for football.
The board was responding to scheduling problems many schools have encountered regarding football over the last decade. Several athletic directors attended the meeting and endorsed the district plan. Complaints about difficulty of finding eight games, and excessive travel in some cases, in the current system, were heard.
Schools will be placed in districts of at least 16 schools — based on geography and enrollment — and the schools will work together within their districts to create schedules, under the plan approved.
The Star News contacted District 728 coaches prior to the vote that was expected to pass.
Elk River coach Steve Hamilton reserved judgement.
“I can’t really answer the upside or downside because they haven’t really told us what it looks like,” Hamilton stated. Noting that 5A and 6A schools could be grouped together, he said it would be a tough situation for the Elks, a 5A team, to have 6A powers like Eden Prairie and Wayzata on the schedule, but “if it is just strictly 5A, it could be good for us because we could actually play schools our size during the regular season.”
Zimmerman coach Tom Kish said he hoped the status quo would remain.
“Our program enjoys competing in the Granite Ridge Conference as we play a quality opponent each week,” said Kish.
Studying the proposal, he assessed: “The upside to this is all teams will be guaranteed a full schedule against schools no greater than double its student enrollment. The downside is for the vast majority of teams such as Zimmerman, are happy with the current configuration, so should MSHSL completely blow up conference football even though 90 percent of the schools in the state are happy with it?”