John's Journal
A New Football Class Has Been Approved4/7/2011
The MSHSL board of directors has voted to add a seventh class in football, beginning in the 2012 season.

The new Class 6A will include the 32 largest schools in the state (others may choose to opt up to 6A).

The board also voted against going to section football scheduling during the regular season.

Using enrollment numbers for the 2011-12 school year, here are the largest teams in Minnesota ...
1  Wayzata   3060
2  Eden Prairie   3007
3  Minnetonka   2750
4  Stillwater Area   2670
5  Champlin Park   2571
6  Blaine   2551
7  Burnsville   2530
8  Anoka H.S. (Coop)  2521
9  Edina   2436
10  White Bear Lake Area   2257
11  Prior Lake   2154
12  Eagan   2147
13  Maple Grove   2142
14  Coon Rapids   2120
15  Hopkins   2070
16  Eastview   2056
17  Centennial   2017
18  Rosemount   2013
19  Osseo (Coop)  1996
20  Forest Lake   1952
21  Roseville Area   1840
22  Elk River (Coop)  1792
23  Robbinsdale Armstrong   1789
24  Lakeville South   1774
25  Minneapolis South (Coop)  1744
26  Shakopee   1736
27  Woodbury   1715
28  Lakeville North   1711
29  Brainerd   1685
30  Mounds View   1671
31  North   1671
32  Park   1656
A Busy Day At MSHSL World Headquarters4/7/2011
Whew. The dust has begun to settle from today’s meeting of the MSHSL board of directors. The big headlines come from football, with two big decisions.

First, the board voted down the concept of revamping football scheduling. There has been much discussion of going to section football scheduling during the regular season, because of the issues some schools face in finding enough opponents to fill eight games. Such a move would have changed the face of many conferences, but the board seemed to base its decision (on a roll vote vote of 12 to 5 after a voice vote was unclear) against section football on questions about changing football for everyone because a minority of schools are having problems.

The one big change that was approved was the addition of a seventh class in football, beginning with the 2012 season (it passed on a voice vote, so no roll call of votes was taken). It will be composed of the largest 32 schools in the state … but it’s not that simple. A few of the largest 32 schools will opt down from Class 6A, and some who are not among the biggest 32 will opt up to play in 6A.

All we know at this point is that 6A will have 32 schools, split into four eight-team sections. All will be metro schools with the exception of Brainerd, which is 29th by enrollment on the list of schools that will play 5A football in 2011. Using the current number of football schools, the football classes should look something like this in 2012 …

6A: 32 teams
5A: 48 teams
4A: 48 teams
3A: 54 teams
2A: 61 teams
1A: 61 teams
Nine-man: 77 teams

Currently, football is structured like this…
5A: 57 teams
4A: 51 teams
3A: 65 teams
2A: 66 teams
1A: 66 teams
Nine-man: 77 teams

There are many, many questions to be answered. Will state football semifinals move from two days to three at the Metrodome, or will 6A semifinals be played elsewhere? Will the Prep Bowl add a third title game on Saturday? How will 6A sections and the postseason be structured? The board has more work to do on this.

--Before the board voted, Wayzata athletic director Jaime Sherwood, a former president of the MSHSL board, asked the members to approve section football scheduling. In recent years Wayzata has played games in Wisconsin, llinois and Michigan, and last season Wayzata played only six regular-season games en route to the Class 5A state championship. Next season, Wayzata plans to play Carmel Catholic (Ill.) in Dubuqe, Iowa, pending approval from the MSHSL board.

--In other football news from Thursday, the Ohio High School Athletic Association board of directors denied a request from football coaches to begin holding spring football practice.

--How many football classes do other states have? That was a popular question on Facebook and Twitter after the MSHSL board voted. Here’s a sampling: Texas has 12; Michigan and Illinois have eight; Wisconsin, Missouri and Kansas have seven; Iowa, South Dakota, Ohio, Kentucky and Washington have six; Indiana has five; North Dakota has four.


This was a lengthy board meeting, with many other discussion items and decisions. Here’s a taste of what else happened …

--The addition of three wheelchair events (800 meters, 1,600 meters, shot put) in track and field was approved for regular-season, postseason and state meet competition, beginning immediately.

--The board approved a change in the schedule for the state baseball tournament in all three classes, for this year’s tournament only. Currently, each class uses two fields to play quarterfinal and semifinal games on the same day. Under the current plan, two teams in each class are eliminated on the first day. With the change for this year, only quarterfinals will be played on the first day (at one site), with semifinals, consolation games and third-places game held the second day. All championship games are scheduled for Target Field. The format beyond 2011 will be decided at a later date.

--Holy Family Catholic was placed in the Wright County Conference.


--New Prague boys basketball coach Tim Dittberner announced he was stepping down from his coaching job. As I wrote during the boys state basketball tournament, Dittberner took over as head coach when the late Jeff Gravon was dealing with cancer. Dittberner will remain as the principal at New Prague Middle School.

And finally, in case you missed it in an earlier post, here is the list of the largest football teams in Minnesota (using enrollment numbers for the 2011-12 school year). But remember, these aren’t necessarily the 32 teams that will play 6A football in 2012…

1 Wayzata 3060
2 Eden Prairie 3007
3 Minnetonka 2750
4 Stillwater Area 2670
5 Champlin Park 2571
6 Blaine 2551
7 Burnsville 2530
8 Anoka H.S. (Coop) 2521
9 Edina 2436
10 White Bear Lake Area 2257
11 Prior Lake 2154
12 Eagan 2147
13 Maple Grove 2142
14 Coon Rapids 2120
15 Hopkins 2070
16 Eastview 2056
17 Centennial 2017
18 Rosemount 2013
19 Osseo (Coop) 1996
20 Forest Lake 1952
21 Roseville Area 1840
22 Elk River (Coop) 1792
23 Robbinsdale Armstrong 1789
24 Lakeville South 1774
25 Minneapolis South (Coop) 1744
26 Shakopee 1736
27 Woodbury 1715
28 Lakeville North 1711
29 Brainerd 1685
30 Mounds View 1671
31 North 1671
32 Park 1656

*Schools/teams John has visited: 566
*Miles John has driven: 8,807

--Join the MSHSL on Facebook by clicking on the Facebook button on the right side of John Millea is on Twitter at
MSHSL Board of Directors Will Meet On Thursday4/6/2011
Members of the Minnesota State High School League board of directors will gather at MSHSL World Headquarters in Brooklyn Center on Thursday morning for their April meeting. The agenda is a busy one, with several items of interest to those who participate in and follow high school activities.

The placement of schools into competitive sections for 2011 through 2013 should be finalized at the meeting. The placements were announced on a few weeks ago. The board also will discuss having the MSHSL become a partner in robotics competitions.

In the realm of athletics, football, baseball and track and field will be discussed at Thursday’s meeting. Here’s a brief look at each …

--FOOTBALL/ The board will talk about issues facing schools in finding enough games to fill their football schedules. This topic has been discussed for a long time by coaches, administrators, at MSHSL area meetings and by the board of directors. A football task force also has held several meetings to discuss this, and input has been received from schools all over the state. One possible option is revamping football into section play during the regular season. Another is to add a seventh class in football, helping to remedy a large disparity in enrollment among current Class 5A schools. There are currently 54 schools in 5A football, with enrollments ranging from 1,246 to 3,091. The MSHSL policy on classes seeks no more than a 2-to-1 ratio in enrollments, and 5A does not meet that policy. Thus the consideration of adding a new class for the largest schools in the Minnesota.

--BASEBALL/ The board will hear a proposal to adjust the schedule for the state tournament in all three classes. Currently, each class uses two fields to play quarterfinal, semifinal and consolation games on the same day. Under that plan, two teams in each class are eliminated on the first day. Under the proposed change, only quarterfinals would be played on the first day (on one field for each class), with semifinals, consolation games and third-places game held the second day (on two fields). All championship games are scheduled for Target Field.

--TRACK AND FIELD/ The board will hear a proposal to add several wheelchair events to this sport. The proposed events are the 800, 1,600 and shot put.

The board of directors consists of 20 people who represent the following groups…
8 from administrative regions
4 from the public
2 from the Minnesota School Boards Association
2 from the Minnesota Association of Secondary School Principals
1 from boys sports
1 from girls sports
1 from the Communications and Theater Association of Minnesota
1 from the Minnesota Music Educators Association

Thursday’s meeting will begin at 9:30 a.m. I will post live updates throughout the meeting. Immediate information will flow on Twitter (@MSHSLjohn), updates will be posted on the MSHSL Facebook page and I’ll update John’s Journal as well.

*Schools/teams John has visited: 566
*Miles John has driven: 8,807

--Join the MSHSL on Facebook by clicking on the Facebook button on the right side of John Millea is on Twitter at
A Big Move For Perham’s Zach Gabbard4/5/2011
The last time we saw Zach Gabbard, he got out of his wheelchair to walk and high-five his Perham basketball teammates during introductions before the Class 2A state semifinals at Target Center. The Yellowjackets went on to capture the state championship the next day, with a worn-out Zach watching on television from Bethesda Rehabilitation Hospital in St. Paul.

Zach has made another big move. He and his parents have returned to Perham, where Zach is in a transitional rehab unit at Perham Hospital. Zach was able to sleep in his own bed at home on Saturday and Sunday and moved into the hospital unit on Monday.

Here’s a message that was posted on Zach’s CaringBridge site Saturday evening:

“Unfortunately, I didn't have access to a computer yesterday. Zach had a great day. Today was an even better day! He was very willing and happy to accompany his parents on a road trip home! We made a surprise entrance into the middle school during the Spring Fling tournament and received a very warm welcome. He gets to sleep in his own bed for two nights and on Monday will be admitted into the transitional rehab unit in the Perham Hospital. We are looking forward to spending a quiet, restful Sunday at home alone because we need to monitor his blood pressure throughout the weekend.”

This update was posted on the site Monday:

“Zach is settled into his new surroundings. What a nice facility!!! He likes the fact that he can help himself to food! :) He met with each of his different therapists and his doctor today. Tomorrow full blown therapy will begin. It is so nice that his friends are close by and can visit him daily. Therapy, however, is first priority. There is a Wii at the facility so he and his friends can have a good time while visiting. :) I will try to update here but it won't be as often. Maybe once or twice a week until he is home for good. Thank you ALL for the generous posts and so many prayers throughout this ordeal. God is Great!”
A Few Scattered Tidbits On A Spring Day4/4/2011
Happy spring! It’s a balmy 38 degrees (above zero) today at MSHSL World Headquarters, where spring is the thing as we get into April. Before we know it, spring state tournaments will be held and another school year will be over.

But first we need to get a warmup going across Minnesota. According to a weather report from Fairmont – via the MSHSL Facebook page – it was 62 degrees down there in that beautiful city on Sunday and the first track meet of the year will be held Tuesday.

A report from Springfield in southwestern Minnesota, home of the Class 1A boys basketball state champions, says that flooding and wet ground are slowing things down for spring athletes.

The forecast looks like things should improve this week, but that usually depends on where you live. Especially from south to north, there can be a wide range of conditions for outdoor activities this time of year. It’s safe to say that Fairmont’s 62 degrees wasn’t felt in, say, International Falls. But I am certain that warm weather will arrive (fingers crossed).

--While taking a few days off last week, I did some traveling. Nothing exotic, no warm beaches or palm trees. Looking at this photo, see if you can figure out where I went (while wearing my “One Clap for Zach” t-shirt).


Warming weather gives me the itch to get in my car, visit schools and teams and write about the great things taking place around our state. I’m always on the lookout for story ideas, so feel free to send me an email telling me what’s happening where you are.

The best stories are the true human stories. Take a moment to think about what’s happening with your team, your school, your conference, your area. I always tell people that there’s at least one dynamite story at every school in Minnesota. Let me know about yours.


As the school year begins winding down we start seeing coaching changes. There are a couple I’d like to mention today. One is at Park Center High School, where former University of Minnesota quarterback Ricky Foggie has been named head football coach. Foggie, 44, replaces former Minnesota Vikings player Rufus Bess, who coached at Park Center for four years.

Foggie played for 10 years in the Canadian Football League and also played in the Arena Football League. He previously worked as an assistant football coach at Burnsville High School.

The other coaching change is at Ellsworth, where Tyler Morris has resigned his positions as sixth-grade teacher and boys basketball coach. He will move to Tekamah, Nebraska, to become head boys basketball coach and teach fifth grade in the Tekamah-Herman school system.

I have been a regular visitor to Ellsworth, which is one of the great little communities in Minnesota. You may recall a story that appeared here – as well as in the program for the boys state basketball tournament – about Coaches vs. Cancer. Ellsworth was a primary focus of that story, and Tyler has done great work in organizing Ellsworth’s annual Coaches vs. Cancer event.

The move to Nebraska means Tyler and his family will be closer to his wife’s family. He told me it was not an easy decision because of how much he enjoyed his time in Ellsworth. And knowing how special Ellsworth is, I can appreciate the difficulty of his decision.

*Schools/teams John has visited: 566
*Miles John has driven: 8,807

--Join the MSHSL on Facebook by clicking on the Facebook button on the right side of John Millea is on Twitter at