The 2015 Minnesota high school football season is shaping up to be like no other.
For starters, the Prep Bowl will be held Nov. 13-14, two weeks earlier than its traditional slot on the Friday and Saturday after Thanksgiving, the Minnesota State High School League decided Thursday. The move stemmed from schedule conflicts with the Minnesota Gophers at TCF Bank Stadium, site of the seven high school championship games until the new Vikings stadium is built.
But an earlier Prep Bowl creates strain on the season schedule for every team in the state. The possible implications include starting practice on Aug. 3 so teams can play as many as three games before school starts to playing a shortened schedule to some teams not having a shot at postseason play.
No resolution came during Thursday’s league board of directors meeting in Brooklyn Park, but strong consideration was given to two options that would allow a full slate of regular-season games and full participation in the playoffs.
The first option would mean starting practices a week early on Aug. 3. The second would mean playing the first week of games after just two weeks practice in lieu of scrimmages. Conditions must be met before either could be approved at the board’s next meeting on Jan. 23.
Starting Aug. 3 would go against the recommendations of the league’s 19-member advisory committee of activities directors and force teams to play three games before Labor Day. Most schools do not start before the September holiday. Teams currently play one game before Labor Day.
Input would be sought from the league’s sports medicine advisory committee, made up of doctors, chiropractors and a nurse practitioner, before playing games after two weeks of practice, on Aug. 22. The committee has recommended against similar requests in the past, but the board has the final decision, league associate director Kevin Merkle said.
“There are some coaches that say we should do this because everyone is playing in the summertime,” said David Stead, the league’s executive director. “But there are some kids who are and some who are not.”
The schedule challenge is expected to go away in 2016, when the Prep Bowl will be played in the new Vikings stadium.
Separately, Merkle laid out the pros and cons of a new statewide scheduling plan to keep schools from having to either schedule games with out-of-state teams or play fewer than eight games in a season.
The plan would involve groups of teams primarily based on geography but also enrollment. A vote on the plan, which would be implemented as soon as the 2015 season, is expected in January.
State soccer to St. Cloud
Both classes of the state soccer tournament will be held at St. Cloud State in 2014 and 2015 while the new Vikings stadium is being built. The semifinals and finals were previously held in the Metrodome. Quarterfinals will still be played at neutral turf field sites.
Two private schools placed
The board approved putting Benilde-St. Margaret’s in the new Metro West Conference and St. Thomas Academy in the new Metro East Conference, ending a contested process to place the two private schools with campuses in St. Louis Park and Mendota Heights, respectively.
Both conferences had appealed the initial placements. Both schools will join their new conferences in 2014-15.