BROOKLYN CENTER, Minn. – The Minnesota State High School League approved the biggest change in high school football in the state in years. The Board of Directors voted almost unanimously in favor of creating "districts" in place of the present conference system.
A number of schools have had difficulty in recent years filling a full 8-game schedule because of what Associate MSHSL Director Kevin Merkle called "the haves and have-nots" in terms of strength of programs. The new plan is an attempt to solve that inconsistency.
"Some of the schools that have strong programs, other schools do not want to compete against them and so, then, they do not have games and now, where do they go to get those games?" said Merkle. "One of our schools is going to be looking at spending $35-$40,000 this year to travel well into Wisconsin to play a game and should they really have to do that?"
The District plan will set up groups or pools of schools as "districts", probably in April or May. The plan is to implement the district arrangements for the fall of 2015. Once the MSHSL places the schools in their districts, based on enrollment and location, the schools will set up their schedules with teams from within their district.
"I think it is a great thing," said Dave Nelson, Minnetonka High School Head Football Coach. "For years now, we struggled filling out our schedule. There are only five teams in our conference (Lake), that leaves you with four football games you have got to find and it has been tough. We have taken many trips to other states, Wisconsin, Missouri and North Dakota. So, it will be good to play teams in the Twin City area."
Nelson said he hopes traditional rivalries can continue under the new system. Merkle said the MSHSL will try to maintain the old rivalries as much as possible.