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District scheduling change not so big for area teams

There will be some big changes in scheduling for the 2015 Minnesota prep football season, but with very little change for area football teams.

The Minnesota State High School League Board of Directors approved district scheduling for football with a unanimous vote Monday. The changes will begin in 2015.

The state was split into 18 districts to help teams fill regular-season schedules. Each district will have meetings to break the districts into sub-districts.

As soon as the sub-districts are formed, schedules can be made for the 2015 and 2016 seasons. The MSHSL is hoping to have all schedules complete for 2015 and 2016 by Nov. 1.

“The bigger steps are yet to come when the districts formulate how the sub-districts are going to plan out,” MSHSL associate director Kevin Merkle said. “It’s good to make progress. Now, we hand it off to the schools and the districts and hopefully they can put together those sub-districts. Once they put those together, the schedules could be easy to turn out.”

But for the area teams, there was very little change.

The Heart O’ Lakes Conference remains together, as every team from the 2013-14 HOL Classic and the HOL North were put in the Midwest District along with Barnesville, Fergus Falls, Frazee, Long Prairie-Grey Eagle, Osakis, Ottertail Central, United North Central and Wadena-Deer Creek.

“The districting and the regional stuff all make sense, but now we’re going to open up a different deal to make schedules,” Hawley coach Peder Naatz said. “It’ll be hard for teams like Fergus Falls and Detroit Lakes.

“They are (Class) 4A, and we don’t have enough big schools in our district to give them the kind of competition they need. It’ll be interesting to see how this goes when sub-districts come out.”

But Laker head coach Flint Motschenbacher was still pleased with how the districts ended up.

“It looks like a very similar schedule than the last few years for us,” Motschenbacher said. “I’m also excited to be able to renew our schedule with Fergus Falls, which for years we haven’t been able to play.

“There is also an outside chance that we can schedule a cross-district game with Moorhead. It turned out pretty well for us.”

The 9-man West District is the entire 2013-14 North Tri County Conference and both Pheasant Conferences except for Ortonville. Outside of the area conferences, the district also has Buffalo Lake-Hector-Stewart, Cass Lake-Bena, Clearbrook-Gonvick, Goodridge-Grygla-Gatzke, Kittson County Central, MACCRAY, Northern Freeze, Renville County West, Stephen-Argyle, Underwood and Warren-Alvarado-Oslo.

The Northwest District is made up of the 2013-14 North Star East and North Star West Conferences minus Frazee, Warren-Alvarado-Oslo and Cass Lake-Bena, but with the addition of Badger-Greenbush-Middle River, Climax-Fisher, New York Mills and Red Lake.

Frazee head coach Jim Rader was also pleased that the Hornets were placed in the same district as the majority of the section.

“I am a supporter of section scheduling, so this should be alright,” Rader said. “There isn’t a lot of change for us.”

Not all schools will be happy with the change, but it’s still a work in progress.

“I’m sure there will be some schools concerned,” Merkle said. “People understand that committee worked really hard to put these together. The same group could come back and could do it differently. In most cases, the schools fell into place with who they are playing now.

“I think overall schools will be more understanding of this whole situation. There was that fear of the unknown or that they’d be placed across the state until they were placed in a district, and I don’t think that happened.”

Pelican Rapids also will have little change, with the concern of losing a natural rivalry with Perham now alleviated.

“It’s a neutral reaction for us,” said Viking head coach Dave Haugen. “There was a little apprehension before the decision, but it’s now a relief with how it has ended. We have all of the HOL Conference in the same district, with even a few section teams added.”

The MSHSL Board of Directors approved the concept of district scheduling in January. A league survey of school officials showed that 41 percent of schools reported problems with regular-season scheduling in the past 10 years.

(Article by Chris Murphy and Brian Wierima, Forum News Service.)

District: 9-West





Buffalo Lake-Hector-Stewart

Cass Lake-Bena





Hillcrest Lutheran Academy

Kittson County Central


Norman County East-Ulen-Hitterdal

Norman County West

Northern Freeze

Park Christian

Renville County West


Stephen-Argyle Central





Wheaton Herman Norcross


District: Northwest







Lake Park-Audubon


New York Mills


Pine River-Backus

Red Lake County Rebels

Red Lake


District: North Central



Big Lake




Chisago Lakes Area

Duluth East

Elk River



North Branch




Saint Cloud Tech

Sartell-Saint Stephen

Sauk Rapids-Rice

St. Cloud Apollo

St. Francis

St. Michael-Albertville


District: Midwest:

Barnesville High School

Breckenridge High School

Crookston High School

Detroit Lakes High School

Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton H.S.

East Grand Forks High School

Fergus Falls High School

Frazee High School

Hawley High School

Long Prairie-Grey Eagle H.S.

Osakis High School

Ottertail Central Bulldogs

Park Rapids Area High School

Pelican Rapids High School

Pequot Lakes High School

Perham High School

Roseau High School

Staples-Motley High School

Thief River Falls High School

United North Central Warriors

Wadena-Deer Creek High School