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Addition of teams, new class prompts bye week in Class 11AA schedule

The Kernel football team has the week off and head coach Kent VanOverschelde is in favor of the newly implemented bye week to the Class 11AA schedules.

“I think it’s absolutely beneficial,” said VanOverschelde, whose team picks back up next week against Sioux Falls Roosevelt. “It gives us a chance to go back and focus on fundamentals in practice.”

This is the first year Class 11AA teams have the luxury of a bye week. In the past, teams in that class have played nine-game regular seasons. Now, Class 11AA schedules play eight games during the regular season and have a bye week like all other classes.

“The athletic directors of the Class AA and Class AAA schools with the conjunction of the South Dakota High School Activities Association decided to make the change,” said Mark Miley, athletics coordinator for Sioux Falls public schools.

Last year, there were 16 schools in Class 11AA, but with the addition of Class 11AAA and Spearfish and Harrisburg into Class 11AA, a change in schedule was necessary.

“Because of the odd number of teams now, in order to get an eight-game schedule, you needed to have that bye week,” Miley said. “When there were 16 schools in the class, you could play eight games every week and it worked.”

Eastern South Dakota Conference teams used to play every team in the conference, but this year, ESD schools play six conference games and two nonconference games. The Kernels do not play conference foes Brandon Valley and Aberdeen Central but do play Spearfish and Sioux falls Roosevelt in nonconference games this year.

With the bye week, the playoff system has also changed as just eight teams make the playoffs instead of 12.

“Class 11AAA and 11AA use the same system as all other classes for everything,” SDHSAA assistant executive director John Krogstrand said. “With the nine-game regular season, it was a concern if teams had a bye week the final week of the regular season because if they earned a bye in the playoffs, they’d have around 20 days where they wouldn’t play a game.”

For the first time this year, no team receives a bye in the first round of the playoffs in any class.

Brooke Cersosimo
Brooke Cersosimo is The Daily Republic's sports editor.