OUR VIEW: A level playing field created for S. Dakota football teamsThe number of South Dakota high school football divisions will expand to seven with the addition of Class 11AAA, following a vote this week by the South Dakota High School Activities Association board of directors.
The number of South Dakota high school football divisions will expand to seven with the addition of Class 11AAA, following a vote this week by the South Dakota High School Activities Association board of directors.
Seven classes for roughly 125 teams. It does, indeed, seem to stretch the limits of common sense, especially with only eight teams in each of the top two divisions.
But we’re happy with the decision, which was made in the name of fairness, according to the SDHSAA.
Sioux Falls schools are dominating the football landscape. Sioux Falls Washington, the school with South Dakota’s largest enrollment in grades 9-11, has played in the state title game five consecutive years. Sioux Falls Roosevelt, No. 2 in enrollment, has been to four straight title games, winning the 2011 championship.
And since 2004, 16 teams have qualified for the Class 11AA championship game. All but one of those teams have enrollments that now will place them in the new Class 11AAA division.
So, starting in 2013, the largest eight schools, in terms of grades 9-11 enrollment, will play in Class 11AAA. The next eight schools will compete in Class 11AA. Mitchell will play in the latter division.
The regular-season schedule for Eastern South Dakota Conference schools probably won’t change much. Although Watertown and Aberdeen will play in Class 11AAA, those schools still will play Class 11AA schools during the regular season. The same goes for Brandon Valley, which is among the 11AAA schools at this point but could petition down to the lower class if O’Gorman successfully petitions up.
And a separate proposal to add Harrisburg to the ESD is still alive, likely to be decided later this spring. If Harrisburg joins, it would bring the league to nine teams, but each ESD school would not necessarily play every other ESD school, and that would leave room on the schedule for ESD teams to play traditional opponents in Sioux Falls and Rapid City who will now be in 11AAA.
We — and by “we” we mean all who are in favor of adding a seventh class — probably will be accused of sour grapes. That’s fine.
We readily admit to complaining about adding football classes in the past. We have learned over the years that fair and competitive situations are in the best interest of players’ enjoyment of the game and their personal safety.
If Mitchell can ever be fortunate enough to win a state Class 11AA title in the coming years, some may consider it a tainted victory.
Not us. We will rightfully honor the local program and consider it an achievement attained on an entirely level playing field.