Carrington, PBK End Football Co-op, Big Effects


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CITY (–With major impacts to both schools and the state at large, Carrington and Pingree-Buchanan-Kensal appear to have ended their long-standing cooperative agreement in football, effective for the 2013-14 cycle.

Due to the Memorial Day holiday, could not confirm the move with either school. However, an athletic director outside the school systems involved confirmed the move Saturday, and the North Dakota High School Activities Association (NDHSAA) website shows the change in their current football plan for the next cycle.

The move will send Carrington to the “A” division of football, down a division from the “AA” division where they have been regularly competitive, unless the school chooses to opt up.

The opt up scenario appears unlikely. The move to end the agreement seems specifically designed to move Carrington down a division, allowing the Cardinals to avoid playing in “AA”‘s west division, where they are currently assigned.

While Carrington contemplates its next move, PBK will join Central Valley as a school that will offer no varsity option for football to its student-athletes. The Rebels will either not offer the program, form a 9-man program and play junior varsity, or search for other cooperative agreements.

Other agreements will be hard to come by. Of the other surrounding schools, Midkota and Barnes County North are both involved in a 2100-square mile co-op with Griggs County Central, a “AA” team that would likely be reluctant to accept a new partner. Doing so would prevent that mega co-op from escaping “AA” football in the near future.

Jamestown would likely be the only other workable scenario for a PBK co-op. That agreement would do little to inspire participation for Rebel athletes, as they would compete at the “AAA” level, and also compete with a large group of student-athletes for playing time.

The aforementioned Griggs County-Barnes County co-op and Valley City are also nervously watching the effects of the move.

With Carrington leaving “AA”, only seven teams remain in “AA” west. GBC and Valley City are the next to move, and one will have to.

In 2010, a similar situation occurred when some west teams were re-assigned to “A”. The NDHSAA football committee chose to move Valley City west, even though GBC was geographically closer to five of the seven west teams. The same situation exists now, with GBC closer to Belcourt, Beulah, Minot Ryan, Stanley, and Watford City, and Valley City closer to Bismarck St. Marys and Dickinson Trinity.

The eventual dissolution of Fargo Oak Grove’s co-op with Moorhead Park Christian in 2011 allowed both Valley City and GBC to be east teams, as Oak Grove moved to “A”. Before the move, when asked of the rationale behind moving Valley City west and not GBC, a football committee member said there was no rationale used for the move.

The ever-changing population picture of the state’s oil patch is reflected in the new cycle. Watford City rejoins “AA”, a division that saw them win a state title in 2008. The Wolves then generated controversy by accepting a move down the very next year.

Stanley moves to “AA” after winning an “A” title in an opt up year in 2009, playing with a 9-man enrollment that season. The Blue Jays have grown two full divisions since their title.

If not for Minot Ryan choosing to opt up in 2013, another oil patch team would bee on the way up. Berthold-Our Redeemers was moved back to “A” with Minot Ryan’s decision. In fact, 11 teams have larger enrollments than Bishop Ryan.

With Carrington leaving “AA”, a team must move up and take their place. That team will be Maple Valley-Enderlin. The Falcons will join the east, leaving writhe Valley City or GBC to move west to fill Carrington’s former spot.

Teams have until June 1st to apply for dissolution of further co-ops. Preliminary regional assignments will be sent out to member schools in September.

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  1. Titanfather Reply

    Can you ever write any article involving GBC without the 2100 sq mile editorial? You also seem to think GBC is trying to run from “AA”. I will tell you as a Titan father that Coach Zinke, his staff, the team and the GBC communities are working very hard to not only compete, but to be the best at that level.

    • RyanCunningham Reply

      The reference was only included to show how dramatic the addition of PBK might be, as joining with GBC would be an option they would consider. One has to admit that the sheer size of the co-op would be enough to dissuade newcomers.

      I am well aware of Coach Zinke’s mindset on competing at the AA division. I speak with him frequently, and saw firsthand his effect on the team last year. I don’t believe anyone, including Carrington, is running from AA competition. I can guarantee you that if GBC could get away from AA west travel, they would do so. The decision to move divisions takes into account many more factors than competition.

      There is no reference in this story to GBC being an inferior AA competitor. If you read that into your interpretation of the story, that simply is not my issue. I think we can all agree that no team with it’s base within a stone’s throw of ND Highway 1 relishes the idea of competing in the west division of anything.

  2. beaukay Reply

    GBC told PBK they would welcome them into there football program.

    • RyanCunningham Reply

      They apparently chose not to accept the offer. If you go to the NDHSAA website (, you can see that PBK is listed as “will not field a varsity team”.

      It is my experience with these stories that the true details never come out. Schools do not want to anger other schools, so they won’t really speak of why they did or did not accept an agreement like this.

      What’s really sad is that this issue is about to take another twist. When the second West Fargo school comes online, the “AAA” division will be one team over the limit of 14. That will move Devils Lake to AA, and likely AA west. That will create a vacancy in the east. Lisbon would have first option of moving down, and if they chose to stay up, MV-E would have next option (that is assuming Minot Ryan continues to opt up). Since that vacancy will be in the east, whichever school moves west, GBC or VC, that school is coming back.

      The real lesson here is that the “Jamestown Syndrome” is steadily moving east, and schools that have opposed multiple classes of athletics, and those that have opposed limiting the number of teams in divisions of football, are now paying the price. It’s rediculous that either of these teams will spend two years in the west, only to come back the next term. Had AAA stayed at 12 teams, and not expanded, Devils Lake would never have moved, and this issue would be a non-issue. MV-E would be A, Carrington would stayed east, and the system would work beautifully. Everyone thought that AAA expanding to 14 would only affect Devils Lake. Now you can add Carrington, PBK, MV-E, GBC and VC to the list. Carrington dissolves a co-op and moves down, PBK has noplace to play, MV-E moves up, and either GBC or VC is moving west. All because AAA expanded to 14 teams.