Prep football gets statewide realignment


The Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL) approved a new statewide high school football alignment, with all 371 teams divided into 18 new districts starting in 2015.

As a result, all regular-season schedules will be made by the new 18 districts, with the teams mostly playing intradistrict games — all crossover games with schools outside their district can be scheduled with MSHSL approval. Because these districts are now larger than the former smaller conferences, sub-districts could be set up as well.


Both the seven Minneapolis City Conference and six St. Paul City Conference schools, along with 15 private and suburban schools, will make up the new 28-team Twin City district next year.

“I think the schools will be competitive in this group,” said South Activities Director Mark Sanders on the new alignment. “It doesn’t change a lot for us putting us together with like schools with socio-economic characteristics and similar programs.”

The MSR last week also talked to MSHSL Associate Director Kevin Merkle, who headed the football task force that worked on the new alignment.

“We are treading on new ground here,” he admitted. “The biggest decision for most of the districts is how they will divide into sub-districts. The sub-districts will really drive who [the schools] will actually play for their schedule.”

Sanders says the League asks each school to indicate “natural rivalry” preferences for scheduling purposes, such as Washburn-South yearly contests. He adds, however, that the new alignment doesn’t help the Tigers in sectional seeding — the section make-up remains intact. The South Minneapolis school is 4A and competes in the same section with typical powerhouse Eden Prairie.

Merkle envisions districts such as the new Twin City, one of the state’s largest, establishing sub-districts as well. “Minneapolis and St. Paul could go together as a sub-district or a mix of schools. They could be divided into three or four groups,” he believes.

“I think [Minneapolis] and St. Paul are so much alike, it’s common sense to put us together” in a sub-district, adds Sanders. “It makes a lot of sense.”

Furthermore, the new setup is for prep football only: “There is absolutely no discussion whatsoever for any other sport,” stated Merkle, noting that the Minneapolis City Conference and other conferences remain intact for basketball and other sports.

But he surmised that the new alignment “certainly has potential” to create a better competitive balance, especially at some city schools that over the years have lost talent to more successful suburban football programs.

“It is going to be interesting,” concludes Sanders.


She came back… and left with a ring 

After the May 24 Minnesota-New York contest, Sugar Rodgers showed off her 2013 WNBA championship ring she earned as a rookie guard last season with the Minnesota Lynx. Because she was traded in April to the Liberty, the 5’-11” Georgetown graduate wasn’t at the official ring-giving ceremony held earlier last month.

“It’s a business,” said Rodgers. “At Georgetown, they prepared you for this, teaching you all the in-and-outs of the professional atmosphere. I was prepared for anything.”

With a smile, she told the MSR that the trade also got her closer to her Washington, D.C. home.



With the Minnesota Twins’ selection last week of shortstop Nick Gordon in the 2014 First-Year Player Draft, he became the fourth Black player the team drafted in the opening round since 2007. Gordon signed on Monday and was assigned to the rookie league.


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