Seven metro-area high schools, led by Chaska and Chanhassen, have announced the formation of a new conference called Metro West in a move that appears to signal the demise of the Missota Conference.

Chaska and Chanhassen said in a news release Tuesday that they will leave the eight-member Missota to create the Metro West starting in the 2014-15 school year. They will be joined by Bloomington Jefferson, Bloomington Kennedy, St. Louis Park, Richfield and Cooper.

The schools said the new conference offers "balance of competition'' between midsize schools. Chaska and Chanhassen, in the southwest metro area, also cited location as a factor, noting that families in their district align themselves more with the metro area than southeastern Minnesota.

The Missota has already lost Farmington to the South Suburban. Shakopee is seeking permission to make the same move. Another Missota member, Red Wing, wants to join its old conference, the Big Nine. Shakopee's and Red Wing's departure await votes by conference principals this month.

If all those teams do leave, only Holy Angels, New Prague and Northfield would remain in the Missota. New Prague athletic director Brad Skogerboe said the Missota could survive by adding schools. But other Missota athletic directors said it seems much more likely the conference would disband. The remaining schools could form a new conference or, separately or jointly, join an existing one.

Skogerboe said it would be "a sad day'' if the conference were to dissolve. "We're going to do everything in our power to keep it together," he said.

The new conference draws the Bloomington schools from the South Suburban, Cooper and St. Louis Park from the North Suburban and Richfield from the Classic Suburban.

The South Suburban will likely stabilize at 10 schools, according to George Vasiliou, the conference's executive secretary. The North Suburban will lose two of its 11 schools, and three others have been invited to join the Mississippi 8.

Chaska, formerly of the Lake Conference, and Chanhassen, which opened in 2009, joined the Missota in the fall of 2010. They have been exploring the idea of a new conference since last school year.

Derek Wetmore is a University of Minnesota student reporter on assignment for the Star Tribune.