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SDHSAA proposes six-class system at Jan. meeting

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sports Mitchell, 57301
Mitchell South Dakota 120 South Lawler 57301

The Menno/Marion, Mount Vernon/Plankinton and Bridgewater-Emery/Ethan football teams could be making a jump from nine-man to 11-man football in 2015.

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A proposal from the South Dakota High School Activities Association staff was unveiled during preliminary discussions at the SDHSAA board of directors meeting Jan. 15.

At the heart of the proposal is the reconfiguration of the state’s football class system. The proposal plans to cut football classes from seven to six. Under the proposal, all four 11-man classes will remain but one nine-man class will be cut.

“The proposal came about from our office and it was based on the competitive balance,” SDHSAA Executive Director Wayne Carney said. “We are trying to keep the ratio as close to 2-to-1 as we can get it.”

None of the changes are final and are subject to change. Adoptions and changes could be made at the next SDHSAA board of directors meeting in March.

Carney said Assistant Executive Director John Krogstrand recently conducted a study, which revealed surprising numbers as it relates to nine-man football.

The study found that Class 9A football teams won 60 percent of its games against 9AA teams during the 2013 season, while 9AA teams won 54 percent of its games against 9B teams and 9B teams won 56 percent of its games against 9A teams.

According to the proposal, schools with the 24 highest average daily memberships in the state will be split into 11AAA and 11AA. Class 11A will host schools ranging from the next highest ADM total through an ADM of 150, while 11B will be schools with an ADM of 100-149.

The proposal’s rationale is to increase the number of team’s playing 11-man football, while providing protection from higher-enrollment schools in 11-man to the lower enrollment member schools.

The two nine-man classes will consist of the remaining teams with ADM totals of 99.999 and below.

If current numbers were to hold up, the Seahawks, Titans and Razorbacks will play 11-man in 2015.

“I think there is a good chance of us moving up,” BEE football coach Jeff VanLeur said. “It will be a new challenge, but we are excited about it and we look at it as a good chance to play some good football.”

VanLeur has coached 11-man a few times in his 34 years of coaching, during state all-star games.

Kernels likely to stay at 11AA

According to the proposal, the vast majority of Mitchell’s Eastern South Dakota Conference competition would compete at the 11AAA level, leaving just the Kernels and first-year ESD member Harrisburg in 11AA.

“We are going to work, improve and win football games in whatever class we are in,” Mitchell football coach Kent VanOverschelde said. “But my hope is that they give our current system another cycle and give it the opportunity to be successful.”

Mitchell would sit just out of the top 12 behind Sioux Falls O’Gorman.

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