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Farewell To Hockey At The State Fair Coliseum
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 12/23/2013 2:58:28 PM

By Dave Wright
Special Contributor

The news wasn't unexpected. The amazing thing was the place lasted as long as it did. It has been announced that Warner Coliseum on the Minnesota State Fairgrounds will no longer have ice after this season. The final game will be on February 29 when the Section 4AA final is played.

I worked the first game in the place -- a college game between St. Thomas and Hamline in 1975. Two years later, the St. Paul City Conference began moving games away from the St. Paul Auditorium. Soon after, the North Suburban began to move in with a regular slate. In its heyday, there were prep and college games three to five nights a week. Dick Stanford, who had already been doing the state tournament, was hired as the main public address voice for the first several years of the place.

When Dick was named to handle the duties of the North Stars, he pulled back severely and only worked a few games a year after that. I filled in for Dick and eventually got the main job when he decided it was too much to be at both venues.

Section 2 was the first to see the wisdom of playing sectional games there. At the time, the section consisted of North Suburban Conference teams in the south with the St. Cloud and Duluth schools in the north. There was a rotation set up. One year, the Coliseum would host the section semifinals and the finals would head to Duluth for a Saturday afternoon finale. The next year, the venues would be reserved.

Thus it was that Cloquet was playing St. Cloud Apollo in a semi when Corey Millen, perhaps the best-known player in the state, went into a corner and got crushed from behind. He left the ice with a broken ankle. To some, it looked like Cloquet's state tournament dreams went with him. Instead, the Lumberjacks broke away from a 3-all tie and scored eight straight goals. Coon Rapids won the other game and went to Duluth thinking they were headed to a state tournament. If they had been at Coliseum, that might have happened. But this was the Duluth Arena and the home-backed Lumberjacks ran them off the ice.

The next year, however, it was Cloquet's hearts that were broken. Columbia Heights, with a goalie by the magical name of Reggie Miracle, had won its way into the final. The Fire Marshall was told to go fishing as bleachers were installed within 10 feet of the penalty box. The final number was never officially announced but suffice it to say it was way more than capacity. You could hardly hear yourself at ice level. The Hylanders, who had never gone to a state tournament, won an earsplitting double OT game and the Lumberjacks, who probably had a better team than the one that had gone the year before, were left to wonder what happened.

The mind wanders. There was the Section 4 final between South St. Paul and Cretin-Derham Hall. The Raiders were newbies at this, having survived a double OT semifinal against Henry Sibley. Their goalie -- Finbar Murphy -- gave the heavily favored Packers fits all night but finally surrendered a goal to break a tie with 20 seconds left. The happy SSP fans littered the ice and then headed back to town to start celebrating.

It was nearly 10 minutes before the ice was ready. CDH coach Jim O'Neill looked at the matchup and called a timeout. The puck went down and I looked up and saw Chris Weinke suddenly break free for the net. He fired into the far corner of the goal and the game was headed into OT. It didn't last long and before South St. Paul knew what had happened, their season was over.

A year later, the Packers were back and feeling very good about themselves. Their opponent was another upstart who had never gotten that far before, Simley. The Spartans were understandably nervous and fell way behind early. It was 9-2 going into the third period when Simley suddenly started scoring goals. In a matter of a few minutes, a running-time game had turned into a 9-8 game. Russ Welch, the South St. Paul coach, looked like he had swallowed a mouse. SSP finally scored into an empty net and ended up winning the section final by the unlikely score of 11-8.

When full, it was hard to hear the buzzer at the zamboni end of the ice. One night, Edina came over to face Hill-Murray. In both the JV and varsity games, the team behind scored a tying goal with 0:00 on the clock. In both cases, the buzzer didn't go off. It was no malfunction. There is a split second between a clock hitting zero and the buzzer going off. It had happened twice in one night. The timer was a rookie working his first night in the place. It took a long time to explain that this wasn't his fault.

That experience did HM coach Jeff Whisler well later that year when, in the section semifinal, Park did the exact same thing to tie a game 7-7. Whisler just stared at Greg Shepherd -- the same referee who had worked the Edina game earlier this year in disbelief. Shepherd looked at the table in equal disbelief. The poor timer could only shrug his shoulders and sigh.

There was nothing to do but start playing overtime. After 14 goals in 45 minutes, there was none for 30 until the Pioneers finally scored.

When the girls state high school tournament got too big for Aldrich Arena, it came to the Coliseum for a few years. The 1998 tournament stands out in memory. Few of us had ever seen anything quite like Eagan's Natalie Darwitz dashing to and fro out of the building's tight corners. Darwitz, however, didn't get to the televised title game. (Eagan had to settle for the consolation crown.) Apple Valley, which had won the first girls title three years earlier, battled Hibbing/Chisholm/Nashwauk-Keewatin for 45 scoreless minutes. The Eagles scored in overtime for the only 1-0 final in girls hockey history.

Stuff just happened there. There was the night when Johnson's Herb Harvey got mad when he was called for a penalty and heaved his stick from the blue line over the glass and into the seats. The stick ricocheted and hit a guy standing behind the glass. He was unhurt but a little startled.

Two years ago, Blaine came into a section final there feeling good. Their opponent -- Maple Grove -- had never gone to a state tournament and the Bengals had won the previous five section titles at the Coliseum. But Blaine's best player got a five-minute major and a misconduct in the first 15 seconds of play. By the time he got out of the box, it was already 6-0 and the game was a wreck. Blaine could do no right and Maple Grove could do no wrong. It ended up 15-1 and it couldn't end fast enough.

We could go on but you get the idea. The place will always be stuck in a lot of folks' memory banks. One of them came up to me in Las Vegas a couple of years ago. He said, "Excuse me, but aren't you the guy who does the p.a. at the Coliseum? You did my section final game."

I asked where he played.


"Harding? Let me think. Oh, yes. They was a section final in the mid 80s when they played South St. Paul. They lost 2-1 but I remember a Harding kid had a breakaway near the end of the game but didn't score."

The guy looked up with a smile. "That was me," he said.

"Goalie made a great save on you," I countered.

At least I hope he did.

Congrats To White Bear Lake's Tanner Hinck, Old Dutch Athlete Of The Week
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 12/19/2013 1:43:31 PM

Tanner Hinck, a senior captain on the boys basketball team at White Bear Lake, played a crucial role in two overtime games. In a 69-68 victory over Forest Lake he made seven three-point shots, finished with 35 points and got the assist on the clinching basket in overtime.

In an 88-82 loss to Roseville (which was ranked eighth in Class 4A), Tanner made five three-pointers, scored 29 points and had eight rebounds.

Tanner has scored at least 20 points in four of the Bears’ six games this season and is shooting 47 percent from three-point range.

He volunteers with White Bear Lake youth basketball teams, is a member of the National Honor Society and has a grade-point average of 3.9.

Congratulations to White Bear Lake’s Tanner Hinck for being this week's Old Dutch High School Athlete of the Week!

An Arm Injury, A Growth Spurt, And Everything Changed
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 12/18/2013 1:31:02 PM

After Tuesday night's basketball game at Park High School, East Ridge center Ryan Keenan exited the locker room wearing a baseball cap. To be precise, a Milwaukee Brewers cap. That seemed fitting because he's a baseball player who became a Division I basketball player. And it happened very suddenly

Keenan is a 6-foot-11 senior who has signed with Pepperdine. The university is in Malibu, California, overlooking the Pacific Ocean. So college basketball season will clearly mark a big change from Minnesota winters. But just the fact that Keenan will play major-college basketball at all seemed pretty far-fetched not too long ago.

"If you had told me I was going D1 at the beginning of the summer, I would have looked at you with crazy eyes," he said after East Ridge's 75-29 Suburban East Conference victory at Park. "It's been a fun ride."

Keenan comes from an athletic family. His father Dean is the boys basketball coach at St. Paul Harding and his grandfather Jerry Keenan is the longtime athletic director at Harding. But baseball had always seemed to be Ryan's sport. He was a pitcher with potential, but everything changed when two things happened: 1) He suffered an arm injury; 2) He grew amazingly tall.

"In ninth grade he was probably 5-11, and in 10th grade he was like 6-2," Dean Keenan said. "And then boom."

Ryan was listed at 6-10 last season, when he came off the bench behind Conrad Sexe, who is now a freshman at St. John's University. Keenan had never played AAU basketball until last summer, when Mitch Ohnstad -- Minnesota's Mr. Basketball in 1996 at Faribault and a former University of Minnesota player -- began working with him.

Keenan was playing with Ohnstad's summer team at a tournament in Milwaukee when Pepperdine assistant coach Bryant Moore began watching him. The school contacted the family and Dean, wife Heather and Ryan visited Pepperdine. Head coach Marty Wilson offered a scholarship while they were on campus and told them they could take their time in thinking about it. No time was needed.

"There was absolutely no question," Ryan said. "I looked at it between the University of South Dakota and Pepperdine. I knew what I wanted before I went to Pepperdine and it just blew me away. A great degree, that's what I wanted. It's all about the future. And compatibility with the coaches and the kids. They recruit absolutely high-character kids and I couldn't ask for anything better than those guys."

In an odd twist, Ryan's mother had dreamed of attending Pepperdine when she was a student at St. Paul Como Park.

"We've always joked about it," Dean said. "My father-in-law said to her back then, 'I'll be damned if I'm going to pay for you to lay around on the beach.' She called me this summer from Milwaukee and said, 'You'll never guess who's watching him.' "

Ryan is a wonderful example of what can happen to athletes who don't appear to be ultra-talented at an early age. As a young player he was on B- and C-level basketball teams; he had never played with most of his current teammates prior to high school.

"He had great size as a ninth-grader and he hadn't quite grown into his body yet," said East Ridge basketball coach Paul Virgin. "We'll always take a chance on kids like that, because he had a lot of time. All the way up he was always a C player but he kept working. He's a great kid and he'll do anything you ask. I have him in my AP calculus class so he's very bright. He's doing all the right things.

"It's a great story for us and it's great for me as a coach. Ryan works our camps, and I can say, 'Hey, if you're a C player right now in sixth grade or seventh grade, here you go.' "


*Schools/teams John has visited: 252
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry: 6,427
(*During the 2013-14 school year)
Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn

Congrats To Eastview Girls Basketball, Old Dutch Team Of The Week
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 12/17/2013 11:34:12 AM

The Eastview Lightning are expected to move into the No. 1 spot in the Class 4A rankings this week after improving to 5-0 with a 56-64 win at top-ranked Hopkins. It was Hopkins' first home-court loss in almost four years.

Eastview also has defeated Chaska (ranked fifth in 4A), Monticello (ranked seventh in 3A), St. Paul Central and Park of Cottage Grove. The five teams that Eastview has defeated have a combined record of 23-1 in their other games.

Congratulations to Eastview Girls Basketball Team for being this week's Old Dutch High School Team of the Week!

From Lakeville North to Northfield, Berkvam Goes Home
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 12/11/2013 4:10:55 PM

NORTHFIELD -- Andy Berkvam has been asked the same one-word question numerous times since leaving his longtime position as the girls basketball coach at Lakeville North last summer to become the boys basketball coach at Northfield. Why?

Some of the people who ask why are only thinking of the numbers. Numbers like more than 400 career victories, 10 state tournament berths and three state championships, which is what Berkvam accomplished in 23 seasons as the girls coach at Lakeville and Lakeville North.

Those figures contrast with some pretty measly numbers in Northfield's boys basketball history: Two winning seasons since 2004-05, with an average record of 9-14 during that time. The Raiders have not only not won a section title in that span, they have not even played in a section title game. And getting to state? Northfield boys basketball teams have in fact played in three state tournaments ... in 1916, 1928 and 1932.

Why? For Berkvam, the answer is pretty simple. Why not? He's a Northfield native who graduated from Northfield High School in 1984, and he wants to 1) find a new challenge, and 2) give something back to his hometown.

"I think the job kind of parallels the situation when I took the job in Lakeville," said Berkvam, 51, who is a member of the Northfield Athletic Hall of Fame as well as the Minnesota Girls Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame. "I look at it as a big challenge. When I took the Lakeville girls job, they had averaged three to five wins a year for a long period of time."

He had climbed every competitive mountain while in Lakeville, where he continues to work as a middle school physical education teacher. His wife, Marne Berkvam (also a Northfield native and NHS athletic hall of famer), is the principal at Lakeville North.

"It can be hard when you're expected to win 20 games and go to the state tournament every year," Andy Berkvam said. "Not that it's not fun. But it can wear on you. It's fun to do something new and build something new, and I want to give back to the community because I got so much from Northfield."

Berkvam thought about applying for the Northfield boys job two years ago, when Andy Jaynes was hired. Jaynes stepped down after last season because the job took too much time away from his young children.

"At that point (two years ago) Andy was interested," said Northfield activities director Tom Graupmann. "But it wasn't the right time for Andy. He had daughters in high school and he wanted to see them through."

The Berkvams' youngest child is in fifth grade, and the family built a new house in Northfield and moved after Andy changed coaching jobs.

"The timing was really good this time," Graupmann said. "When the job opened, Andy contacted me and said, 'This is something I really want to do. It's something I've always wanted to do.' He wanted to come back to Northfield, live here and coach here."

The only other time Berkvam has coached high school boys basketball was right after he finished his playing career at Mankato State University in 1986. He coached ninth-grade boys at Eden Prairie. When they were seniors in 1988-89, those players were the first Eden Prairie boys team to go to the state tournament.

"I had always planned to coach boys," Berkvam said. "I took (the Lakeville girls job) because it was a challenge."

He was a graduate assistant with the Mankato State men's team for one year after his playing career ended and was teaching in Lakeville when the girls basketball job opened up in 1990. He had previously applied to become the head boys coach; John Oxton was hired and remains the coach.

The Northfield boys team has won five games in each of the last three seasons. One of Berkvam's challenges is building the program from the ground up, and he has begun doing so with a strong focus on elementary players all the down to kindergarten. He had a program in Lakeville called "Adopt a Panther," which paired high school players with youth teams. A similar program has been started in Northfield.

"It's probably the best thing we did in Lakeville," he said. "They go to each other's games and spend time together. It connects younger players with older players, who are role models."

The Raiders are 1-2 this season, with a victory over Rochester Mayo and losses to Hastings and Rochester Century.

"He's very intense," Northfield senior captain Hunter Sannes said of Berkvam. "People look at him outside the basketball area, and he's a great guy. But when you get on the basketball court with him, it's hard, hard, hard. You better get going on defense. I love it. It's what Northfield needs for the basketball program."

With the Missota Conference disbanding after this school year, Northfield will become a member of the Big 9 Conference in 2014-15.

"I think it's a sleeping giant," Berkvam said of the Raiders basketball program. "It's the best of both worlds because we're in the metro but next year we'll be playing in the Big 9. I want to put a lot of time into it."

He doesn't, however, have any timetable for how long his coaching career will last. He's clearly in it for the long haul in his hometown.

"I can retire from teaching in six years," he said. "But I plan to coach for a long time. I want to put my stamp on this program, and there are a lot of good people helping me. Northfield is really hungry to win in basketball."


*Schools/teams John has visited: 238
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry: 6,028
(*During the 2013-14 school year)
Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn

A Broken Neck, A Season Of Transition And Life Lessons
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 12/9/2013 2:27:00 PM

This story has a very happy ending. Well, actually, we won't know how it truly ends until the hockey season ends. But we know how it began. With a broken neck.

Laura Slominski was excited as winter and her sixth season as head coach of the Edina High School girls team neared. The Hornets are one of the state's top programs, with four Class 2A state tournament appearances since 2009 and state runner-up finishes in 2010 and 2011.

Everything changed, however, when Slominski played in a women's fall hockey league game on Sept. 29. She and another player were racing for the puck, they collided, and Slominski flew back-first into the boards. She knows she was lucky. There are plenty of what ifs; for example, what if she had gone in head-first and suffered a spinal injury?

Her spine was OK, but her neck was broken in three places on the C5 vertebrae. She underwent surgery, spent a week in the hospital, has been wearing a neck brace since then and is unable to skate or do any on-ice coaching this season. But again, she knows she was lucky.

"It gives you a new appreciation for people who have gone through similar situations but with much worse results," she said. "The first time being able to get up and walk, it was a whole new level of appreciation for me."

She will return to teaching math at Edina later this week, which will be a big step in getting back to normal. The neck brace should come off for good sometime in January, when the only physical sign of what Slominski has endured will be a great big scar on the back of her neck.

Slominski (pictured here with her players) was injured on a Sunday evening, and one of the first things she thought about in the hospital was finding a substitute teacher for her classes the next day. That was taken care of, but finding a substitute head hockey coach for the upcoming season was another matter. After the job was posted and interviews were held, former Wayzata boys hockey coach Dean Williamson was hired as interim head coach for the season. Slominski holds the interim title of assistant coach.

Williamson coached most of the Hornets varsity players when they were younger, and his daughter Taylor is a junior forward on the team.

"I knew all the kids, I tied most of their skates when they were five years old," Williamson said. "So from that standpoint I was happy to step in, as tough as it was to lose Laura. I'm just glad that she's back on track."

Senior captain Riley Anderson said, "I think it made it easier since Dean coached a lot of us growing up. That made the transition easier, but it is different."

Slominski attends the Hornets games (with the exception of a road trip to Warroad and Roseau in November), watches from behind the glass or the bleachers, consults with Williamson (they are pictured here) and talks to the team in the locker room between periods and afterwards. There's clearly a tight bond between the 33-year-old coach and her players.

"She came to school after her surgery," said senior captain Emily Eide. "All the hockey girls were called down to the athletic office and we didn't know what was happening. Then she walked in and it was a big shock. There were tears instantly."

Slominski said, "There has been so much support from everybody, and you know your family and closest friends will be there for you. The hockey kids are part of my family, too, and we talk about being a family.

"It's a lot easier for me right now because they're in good hands and they're having a good experience. It's hard for both sides to be used to something and have it change so quickly and so close to the start of the season."

The Hornets are off to an outstanding start. They have 10 wins, no losses and one tie and are ranked No. 4 in Class 2A. A big test will come Saturday when they meet top-ranked Minnetonka.

"No matter what's going on, Edina never changes its expectations," Slominski said. "We have expectations that we'll be at the top at the end of the season, and they're playing great hockey right now. Emotionally, I think they're in a very, very good place and they're being well-coached. They're responding very well to what's happening. It's a very strong team, and a lot of it comes down to the chemistry and the character that's there."

Since her injury, Slominski has used a CaringBridge website to keep family and friends updated on her progress. Some of the posts were short updates on her surgery and rehabilitation, but Slominski wrote some longer messages. On Oct. 27, the day before girls hockey practice began around the state, she wrote about the lessons she learned from the coaches she has played for, and offered advice to high school players. Some excerpts ...

--"I was so blessed to have incredible coaches my whole life. Yes, we always wanted to win, but I knew they cared so much about me as a person. It was just as important for them to help me and my teammates to develop as people as it was for us to win games. These life lessons that I was taught and the mental toughness I gained through being an athlete has given me the strength I have needed to be so positive in my journey."

--"Girls, as you go through tryouts, be confident, give all that you have to give so that you can walk away with no regrets, and make the most of every moment this season. We always talk about how you want to give your best because you don't know what is going to happen in life. This is another reminder for me as 4 weeks ago from this very moment, I was getting ready to put the kids to bed and then headed off to my hockey game, just as I have done many times. ... I can't control what happened to me, only how I react to it. I am glad that I have given my all to coaching for the past 5 years at Edina so that when I have to sit this one out it is with no regrets. ... Remember to focus on what you can control, and give your all in everything you do, so that when all is said and done you can walk away with no regrets and you can be proud of all that you and your teammates have accomplished together."

Slominski's doctors have told her to stay off skates for at least six months. That's a long stretch without hockey for someone who grew up with the game. Slominski graduated from Burnsville High School in 1998, where she was her school's Athena Award winner and was named Minnesota's Ms. Hockey. She played hockey and was a team captain at the University of Minnesota, worked as an assistant coach at St. Olaf College, head coach at Bloomington Kennedy, assistant at St. Cloud State and assistant at Minnesota before taking over as Edina's head coach in 2008.

"I was hoping to get back (on the ice) during the second half of the season," she said. "It's kind of like jumping back on the horse. But you never know what can happen in practice; sometimes a player will slide into you and knock you off your feet. It's probably good for me that the doctor said at least six months, because it will force me to be 100 percent fully recovered."

In the meantime, the season will continue and the Hornets will keep playing ... for themselves, their school and their coach.

"It's a great group of kids," Dean Williamson said. "I just want to make it a special year for the seniors and I'm just holding the car keys until Laura's ready to roll. We're excited to have her come to these games and she looks fantastic. Her spirit is a big part of our team this year."


*Schools/teams John has visited: 236
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry: 5,986
(*During the 2013-14 school year)
Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn

Some Decisions Made, Big Football Decisions To Come
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 12/5/2013 1:55:24 PM

The MSHSL board of directors held a lengthy discussion about a proposal to revamp regular-season football at its meeting Thursday, with no decisions made as more information is gathered from schools.

The plan, called District Football Scheduling, would (as described in a previous installment of John's Journal) group teams into districts as a method to assist schools in filling their football schedules. Schools around the state have asked for assistance in fixing the problem, and a select committee developed the District Football Scheduling concept.

The board approved the dates for the 2015 Prep Bowl at the University of Minnesota's TCF Bank Stadium. The Prep Bowl games will be played Nov. 13-14. The board had previously approved a move to TCF Bank Stadium for the Prep Bowl in 2014, with championship games to be played on Nov. 21-22, 2014.

Other football issues remain to be settled for 2015. Because the Prep Bowl will be played earlier than normal (due to TCF Bank Stadium availability), the board discussed several options pertaining to the regular-season format in 2015. They included the possibility of starting the season earlier, playing a seven-game regular-season (instead of the normal eight games) and an abbreviated playoff format. Board members want to gather more information before voting on a football plan for 2015; a vote is expected at the next meeting on Jan. 23.

The 2015 football season is a major issue, but scheduling problem will not be an issue in 2016 and thereafter, because the Prep Bowl will move into the new Vikings Stadium in 2016.

The board approved several other actions ...

--The placement of Benilde-St. Margaret's into the Metro West Conference and St. Thomas Academy into the Metro East.

--The 2014 state soccer tournament will be held at St. Cloud State's Husky Stadium, with semifinals and finals played Oct. 28-29-30. The 2015 state soccer semifinals and finals, also at Husky Stadium, will be played Nov. 3-4-5.

--An MSHSL partnership with the Minnesota High School Press Association.

--An expansion of varsity baseball rosters from 18 to 20 players.

Discussion items included a recommendation from the softball advisory committee that softball go from three classes to four classes. No vote was taken at the meeting. Another discussion item was a proposal from the Minnesota Academic Decathlon program to have it become affiliated with the MSHSL; no discussion was held and the item was withheld until the board's January meeting.

MSHSL Board To Discuss District Football Scheduling Proposal
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 12/4/2013 7:28:25 PM

The MSHSL board of directors will meet Thursday morning at MSHSL World Headquarters in Brooklyn Center, with a full agenda on the table.

The biggest headlines are likely to come from a proposed District Football Scheduling Plan that has been put together in an attempt to solve football scheduling issues that many schools face (details below). The board will not make a decision on the proposal Thursday; it is a discussion item only.

The board is expected to approve placement of two schools into conferences: Benilde-St. Margaret’s into the Metro West and St. Thomas Academy into the Metro East. State soccer tournament dates and a temporary site at St. Cloud State’s Husky Stadium for 2014 and 2015 also is on the agenda, as is a partnership with the Minnesota High School Press Assocation.

In addition, the board will vote on a request to increase the roster size for baseball teams and on state football tournament dates and sites for 2015.

The board has previously approved a move to TCF Bank Stadium for the Prep Bowl in 2014, with championship games to be played on Nov. 21-22, 2014. For 2015, TCF Bank Stadium is available for Prep Bowl games on Nov. 14-15, which may mean a shortened regular-season football schedule , an abbreviated playoff format for that season or other options.

Other discussion items include a proposal from the Softball Advisory Committee to move from three classes to four classes in softball, and a request to add Academic Decathlon as an MSHSL program.

The proposal for a District Football Scheduling Plan was put together by a special committee. The proposal -- which if approved by the board at its January meeting -- would be implemented for the 2015 football season. The proposal includes these possibilities …

--Scheduling groups would be created around the state, based on factors that include school size, geography, “like schools” and strength of programs. The groups should consist of at least 16 or more schools whenever possible. The minimum size of any group is 10 schools.

--A placement committee with representatives from all areas of the state would place schools into scheduling groups. Those decisions would be reviewed by the MSHSL’s Activities Director Advisory Committee and would have to be approved by the MSHSL board of directors.

--Districts would be realigned every two years to make adjustments for enrollment changes, changes in nine-man schools, changes in cooperative programs and changes due to programs being dropped, school consolidations, etc.

--A guideline is that the enrollment difference in any group should be no more than a ratio of 2-to-1, and when possible the ratio would be less than 2-to-1.

--All schools would be able to provide information to the placement committee, including important rivalries, willingness to play against larger schools, travel issues or a willingness to travel further for a competitive schedule.

--Class 6A would follow the same plan as other classes, and some Class 5A teams may be included in groups with 6A teams based on enrollment and geography.

--Each school must play all eight of its regular-season games within its district. The only exceptions are districts with an odd number of schools. In that case, Zero Week games may be used to provide a full schedule or games could be scheduled against out-of-state teams.

--Each district would create schedules for teams in the district. Districts may create conferences or other sub-groups within the district for scheduling purposes.

--The section playoff format would remain the same as it is currently, with section seeding based on regular-season results.

The board meeting will begin at 9:30 a.m. Thursday.

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