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The 32 football programs in the newly created Class 6A now have a map for plotting their course to a state championship.
On Tuesday, the Minnesota State High School League Board of Directors unanimously approved a playoff format for Class 6A beginning in 2012.
The 32 teams are divided into four sections, and the section quarterfinals will feature the No. 1 seeded team playing the No. 8 seeds, 2 vs. 7 and so on
Next, the four remaining teams in each section will square off in predetermined section crossover games.
The eight winning teams will then be the state tournament field, and those teams will be seeded 1-4 by coaches’ votes. The remaining four teams will be selected by blind draw.
The section lineups look like this:
SECTION 3: Burnsville, Eagan, Eastview, Lakeville North, Lakeville South, Park, Prior Lake, Rosemount.
SECTION 4: Cretin-Derham Hall, Forest Lake, Mounds View, North St. Paul, Roseville, Stillwater, White Bear Lake, Woodbury.
SECTION 5: Anoka, Blaine, Brainerd, Centennial, Champlin Park, Coon Rapids, Maple Grove, Osseo.
SECTION 6: Armstrong, Eden Prairie, Edina, Hopkins, Minneapolis South, Minnetonka, Shakopee, Wayzata.
There is a Pandora’s Box element to the new format. In every other team sport, a section with several top teams could produce only one state qualifier. Not so now in football. The new format allows, for example, Section 6 heavyweights Eden Prairie, Minnetonka and Wayzata to all reach the state tournament.
So will other sports petition for a new playoff format?
The full release, written by MSHSL Media Specialist John Millea, is below.
DEERWOOD -- The MSHSL Board of Directors held its August meeting at Ruttger’s Conference Center here Tuesday, and football grabbed the headline.
During a meeting that contained plenty of boilerplate board material, the members voted unanimously to approve a playoff format for Class 6A football. The new division will begin play in 2012.
The 32 Class 6A teams will be split into four sections, with eight teams in each section. (Sections are listed below.) For the first round of playoffs, each section will seed its teams 1 through 8. After the first round of games have been played, the four winning teams from each section will be matched with the top four from a different section by random draw; higher seeds will play lower seeds, with higher seeds being the home team.
Those section-to-section pairings will rotate every two years. After two rounds of games, eight teams will advance to the state quarterfinals and be seeded under the current format, with coaches voting to seed the top four teams and a blind draw deciding their opponents from the remaining four.
The 6A state quarterfinals will be played under the same timetable as quarterfinals in other classes. The 6A state semifinals will be played at the Metrodome on the Thursday evening prior to the traditional Friday-Saturday semifinals.
The 6A championship game will be played on Friday night of Prep Bowl weekend.
Eden Prairie and Wayzata, two of the top (if not the top two) big-school football programs in the state, will compete in the same section of the newly created Class 6A starting in 2012, the Minnesota High School League revealed today at a league board meeting.
The MSHSL added Class 6A at a meeting in April. It will consist of the 32 large-school teams, including Cretin-Derham Hall, which opted up to play in the largest class. Eden Prairie, Wayzata and Minnetonka -- winners of six of the past seven state titles in Class 5A, previously the biggest class -- are all in Section 6, Class 6A.
But they aren’t necessarily on a playoff collision course.
The MSHSL board will revisit and possibly vote on the playoff format structure in August. The most likely scenario will have each team playing one game in their assigned section, followed by a crossover game against a team from another section. The eight remaining teams would then be seeded in the state tournament quarterfinals.
“The task force is leaning toward that right now as a recommendation,” said Kevin Merkle, MSHSL board member and head of the football task force. Merkle added that no similar plans are being made for other classes but coaches in those classes can come forward with recommendations.
The new class will have four sections consisting of eight teams each. Section 5, containing Brainerd, Blaine and Champlin Park, also looks formidable.
Also of note: Totino-Grace, which opted up to Class 5A, will be in Section 4 along with Andover and Mahtomedi.
For a complete list of new sections for 2012, click here.
-- David La Vaque
The Minnesota State High School League voted at a meeting Thursday to approve a seventh class in football, comprised of the 32 largest schools in the state in terms of enrollment, starting with the 2012 season.
The upcoming 2011 season will be played under the existing format, with six classes -- nine-man and 1-5A, with 5A being the largest.
While details such as the final list of schools and the playoff format are uncertain, beginning in 2012 the state will crown a Class 6A champion.
The two schools with the state's largest enrollments, Eden Prairie and Wayzata, are locks for Class 6A. Two schools not as certain for placement because of their smaller enrollments are perennial 5A power Cretin-Derham Hall and 4A power Totino-Grace. CDH coach Mike Scanlon said he wants to wait until he can talk with school officials before talking about whether the Raiders would opt-up to 6A. TG's Jeff Ferguson said his team, which opted-up to 5A for next season, said the Eagles would be considered a 4A school in a seven-class system. Will they opt-up two classes? Ferguson isn't sure.
Meanwhile, the concept of section scheduling — where the MSHSL would assign seven of a team’s eight regular season games each season — got voted down by both a state-wide task force of football coaches and activities directors and the MSHSL board.
Reducing the gaps in enrollment between the largest and smallest schools in all seven classes should create more competitive section playoffs. But some worry the new format really does not address scheduling.
“I don’t see it in anyway solving the issue,” Wayzata coach Brad Anderson said. The Trojans won the 2010 Class 5A state title but played only six of a possible eight regular season games. In recent years, the team has been forced to find games in Michigan and Wisconsin. Wayzata activities director Jaime Sherwood spoke at Thursday’s board meeting in favor of section scheduling.
As for creating a seventh class and a seventh state champion, MSHSL board member Kevin Merkle said, “I don’t think it’s about getting more teams championships. It’s trying to make for more competitive balance within the classes.”
--David La Vaque
Ricky Foggie, the option quarterback who helped bring respectability back to the University of Minnesota football program under Lou Holtz and then John Gutekunst, has been named at the head football coach at Park Center High School.
Foggie, 44, quarterbacked the Gophers from 1984 to 1987, leading them to an upset victory over Michigan in 1986 and two bowl appearances. He played for five different teams in 10 years in the Canadian Football League, then played for eight seasons in the Arena Football League. After retiring as a player, Foggie coached for four seasons in the AFL's developmental league, AF2.
His only high school coaching experience has been as an offensive coordinator at Burnsville.
Foggie replaces former Minnesota Viking defensive back Rufus Bess, who was the Park Center head coach for four years from 2007 through 2010.
We're in the midst of the March frenzy here, but it is worth noting that the Minnesota State High School League has just released its new section assignments for 2011-12. The MSHSL goes through the process every two years, and there are always a few items of note.
The biggest thing we could immediately glean was that Totino-Grace, which opted-up to Class 5A football, has been placed in Section 2. Here is how that football section looks now (should be interesting to see how it plays out):
Irondale High School
Mounds View High School
North St. Paul High School
Roseville Area High School
Stillwater Area High School
Tartan High School
Totino-Grace High School
White Bear Lake Area High School
The process for determining sections, as stated on the MSHSL site:
The Process for Re-Sectioning
1. We start with the current placements
2. We place schools new to that class in the nearest geographic region.
3. We then may move schools to balance the number of teams in each section.
When moving schools to a new section the following is considered:
1. Move as few schools as possible.
2. Geographic sections should not overlap.
3. Numerically balance class AA (or higher) sections to within 2 teams
4. Numerically balance class A sections to within 4 teams
5. In activities that have asked for a top XX, try to balance sections evenly
6. Travel concerns or time out of school only if all above can still be satisfied.
The following are not considered:
1. Strength of program or strength of other programs in section.
2. District or Conference rivalries.
3. Requests to the MSHSL office.
You can see the entire section list by clicking here and navigating various sports.
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