Just as the Magic football team was establishing themselves as a contender in the Mississippi 8, they find themselves leaving the conference and possibly competing against a whole new group of schools. Or, maybe not.
Late in January, the Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL) approved a major change for high school football in Minnesota, but it remains to be seen just how much it will effect Monticello.
By a vote of 19-1, the MSHSL approved a district scheduling plan, which will eliminate most, if not all, current football conferences.
The vote, which occurred Jan. 23, was conducted by the MSHSL board and was done in response to scheduling problems encountered by several schools, especially outstate schools, in recent years.
Teams will now be placed in districts of approximately 12 to 16 schools, based on geography and enrollment, according to Magic football coach Jason Telecky. It will then be up to those districts to work together to create full schedules for each team in the district. Telecky has mixed feelings about the change.
“I’m not thrilled with the change,” he said. “I’m very happy with where we are in the conference right now. But, I understand the change.”
Telecky said the current system just isn’t fair to some teams, pointing to Mississippi 8 participants Duluth East and Duluth Denfeld. Both teams travel hours to each of their away games.
“If I’m Duluth East or Duluth Denfeld, I wouldn’t want to do what they’re doing [right now],” he said. “It’s really hard to build a program in that environment.”
Also, it’s too early for the Magic coach to get overly excited about the change, because no one knows yet what the districts will look like. Districts are expected to be revealed at the beginning of June.
Teams are allowed to play up one level or down one level, but will be placed with teams their own size whenever possible. Teams will also be placed in the geographical situations that make sense for them and teams around them. For the Magic, that means more options than most.
“Monticello is, geographically speaking, kind of in a weird spot,” said Telecky. “We’re kind of at the crossroads.”
According to Telecky, the Magic could end up playing big schools from the western suburbs, or they could be going south to compete with Orono and Delano, or north to play against teams in the St. Cloud area. Or, if they’re fortunate, they’ll end up in a similar spot to where they are right now.
“The only thing that would be a benefit [for us] is if the district ends up looking like the Mississippi 8,” said Telecky. “I don’t want to lose those schools.”
Contact Clay Sawatzke at [email protected]