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Lakers don't have to be road warriors come 2011

"Have bus, will travel."

That's been the adage the Detroit Lakes football team has had to go with for more than a decade, with a schedule which brought the Lakers from Duluth to Minnetonka.

But starting in 2011, the Lakers' bus won't have to travel as far as it has over the last decade after DL was accepted into the Heart O'Lakes Conference.

"It's a conference we belong in," said DL head football coach Flint Motschenbacher. "It got to a point for us, where it was very tough to find games because we were not in a conference.

"It gives us some consistency from year-to-year. We really do appreciate the HOL Conference for taking our situation in mind. We were really out on an island after this season."

Detroit Lakes will have the largest enrollment in the HOL North with 745 students (as of 2009-10), which consists of Thief River Falls (560), East Grand Forks (509), Perham (454), Pequot Lakes (448), Park Rapids (400), with either Staples-Motley (422) or Crookston (362) moving to the HOL Classic -- or the smaller school division.

The HOL added each of Hawley and Detroit Lakes for the upcoming 2011 season, after Wadena-Deer Creek and West Central Area moved out of the conference.

So, in essence, it was all about timing for both the Lakers and the HOL.

"The timing was good, because when (the HOL) lost Wadena-Deer Creek and West Central, we needed an even number of schools," said HOL chairman Chuck Evert. "Admitting Hawley was a no-brainer, because they are in the HOL in most of their other sports, but then we still had one more opening."

With W-DC and West Central moving to the Prairie North Conference and the Lakers losing their North Country Conference last year, it was a perfect fit.

DL is located near most of the HOL schools and the Lakers desperately needed a schedule.

The Lakers will have to travel to Duluth, Bismarck, Grand Forks and Fargo this coming season.

Next year, DL didn't have a schedule as of yet.

"This gives us seven games on our schedule," Motschenbacher said. "And the travel is realistic now."

The Lakers will be the only 4A team in the HOL North, with the other teams being 3A. DL will play one crossover game with the HOL Classic, but it will not be against a 2A school.

"That was one of the stipulations, that a 4A school can't play a 2A one, unless both schools want to," Evert said.

The Lakers will have to find a team to play against in the first week, then start their conference schedule starting in week two.

Although DL will not be gaining as many section seeding points playing 3A schools, that doesn't mean the Laker's new conference won't be competitive.

"It will be very competitive every Friday," Motschenbacher said. "It will be no different than any other year. They play great football in the HOL and it's not going to be easy. It's a schedule which will prepare us for the section playoffs."

But more importantly, it's a consistent schedule, against competitive teams, who are not across the state.

Brian Wierima
Detroit Lakes Newspapers Sports Editor for the last 15 years. St. Cloud State University graduate, who hails from Deer Creek, MN.