The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Sports

June 3, 2014

MSHSL approves scheduling format for football

East, West won't see many changes in district

MANKATO — For Mankato East and Mankato West, the upcoming football schedule will look very similar in 2015, but Mankato Loyola will face some new programs after next season.

“I think it’s best for football in the state,” Loyola coach Kevin Mettler said. “Everything is more stable, and you don’t have to hunt for nonconference games.”

The Minnesota State High School league’s board of directors voted Monday to implement the district-scheduling plan for football, which had already been approved in January and will divide the state into 18 districts. The new format will begin in 2015 and is designed to create more competitive games, ensure full schedules and ease travel concerns.

The new scheduling plan will not affect playoff assignments or seedings.

“That’s probably the biggest misconception about the district scheduling,” East coach Eric Davis said. “People think of models from other states where there are districts within the section. Our section won’t change a bit.”

East and West were assigned to the Big Southeast district, which is the current Big Nine Conference, minus Albert Lea, with New Prague and new Big Nine members Northfield and Red Wing. It’s the smallest district with only 12 teams.

West coach Mark Esch said the district schools will meet soon to get organized, and it’s possible that the district could vote to crown a champion, much like the Big Nine has in the last couple years.

“I think we could lobby the state high school league to call our district the Big Nine or the Big 12,” Esch said. “It’s really not that much different than what have now. New Prague is a good addition. They’ll be a competitive team.”

Mankato Loyola, which competes in Class A, has been assigned to the Mid-Southeast district with 15 other programs: Blooming Prairie, Faribault Bethlehem Academy, Fillmore Central, Goodhue, Hayfield, Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton, Kenyon-Wanamingo, Kingsland, Lewiston-Altura, Medford, Rushford-Peterson, Southland, St. Clair, United South Central and Wabasha-Kellogg.

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