MSHSL votes in favor of district football plan

Board to rearrange opponents based on proximity, enrollment

On Thursday, Jan. 23, the Minnesota State High School League Board of Directors took action to change how regular-season football games are scheduled statewide.

The board voted 19-1 in support of a plan to schedule these games by using a concept called district football.

This plan calls for member schools to be divided into districts of 16 or more, using geographic proximity and like enrollments as the placement criteria, the same criteria used to determine the current conferences. Then, member schools within those districts will establish protocol for scheduling eight regular-season games.

In the 2014 MSHSL Winter Bulletin, Associate Director Kevin Merkle described the concept of district football as section scheduling on steroids. District scheduling is based on school size and geographic location; however, schools are not restricted by the enrollments used to determine classification, and the number of schools in a district is not limited to six or eight.

Assigning schools to districts will be completed by a small committee. Merkle recommends the schools then be placed into subdistricts or “conferences” to build their schedules and allow for the retainment of conference or district championships and all-conference or all-district teams.

Each school will help determine the structure within their district, and the groupings of schools within the districts and the schedules developed can be adjusted every two years.

In terms of opponents, Merkle said the scheduling change will affect the majority of schools but that most schools will find their competition similar to the teams they face now.

During last week’s meeting, Merkle presented the board with the results of a survey completed by 227 schools out of the approximate 375 schools that play football in Minnesota.

Eighteen percent of respondents said their school currently has issues with scheduling. Forty-one percent affirmed that their schools experienced challenges when scheduling regular-season games in the past 10 years. Fifty-five percent agreed that resolving the scheduling issues would aid in resolving issues regarding conference dissatisfaction.

The format for section playoffs will not change — seeding will be based off the results of the regular-season schedule played against district opponents.

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