Less than a week after the Prep Bowl, with the elation of triumph or the sting of defeat still fresh, coaches and administrators are pondering a shake-up to the state’s most prominent football district.
A football advisory committee of the Minnesota State High School League is seeking to expand the Metro District, currently home to 28 teams in Class 6A, to at least 32 regardless of classification. The primary objective: Improved ability to create more balanced regular-season schedules.
Two activities directors, Mike Zweber of Lakeville North and Dan Johnson of Hopkins, addressed the topic Thursday at the league’s board of directors meeting. Both favor expanding the Metro District, though Johnson also shared his concerns.
Currently, teams cannot schedule opponents outside of their districts. That’s why a team such as Woodbury (Metro District) doesn’t play natural rival Park of Cottage Grove. Same story with Eastview (Metro) and Apple Valley (Suburban).
Hopkins, along with Buffalo and Forest Lake, are Class 6A schools that have played regular-season schedules against Class 5A teams the past two seasons because those teams were a better competitive fit.
“If we do get asked to come back into playing more 6A schools, we would say, ‘We’re OK with that, but let’s go to 48 teams or whatever the next logical amount would be,’ ” Johnson said. “But that’s going to be a problem for the schools in the No. 33 to No. 48 enrollment group because they are pretty comfortable playing at their level.”
Zweber said a larger Metro District would mean some of those Class 5A programs “are going to have to play some Class 6A schools and maybe even the powerhouses once in a while. But not on a regular basis.”
Johnson said: “They have four different groups of seven in the Metro District right now and for whatever reason, they are having a hard time making a schedule that works for everybody.”
The topic is expected to be addressed again.
New fees announced
The board approved the debut of ticket sales at tennis state tournaments. Beginning with boys’ tennis in the spring, state tournament admission will be $12 for adults and $8 for students. The girls’ tournament is held in the fall.
Individuals competing in clay target shooting will be required to pay a $35 registration fee. Similar fees also will apply to participants in speech ($25) and teams competing in robotics ($500 in 2020, $750 in 2021 and $1,000 in 2022).
The measures come as the league seeks to resolve a $407,000 deficit for the current fiscal year.
Eden Prairie sophomore forward Jackson Blake was deemed ineligible for varsity hockey competition until Jan. 28 by the league’s eligibility committee on Thursday.
Blake, son of former NHL player Jason Blake, grew up in Eden Prairie but moved last year and spent part of the season playing for Shattuck-St. Mary’s in Faribault before coming back to finish his season in Eden Prairie.
Eden Prairie coach Lee Smith said he expects the family to appeal. Blake did not play in the season opener Nov. 30.