VALLEY CITY (NewsDakota.com)–The high school football plan for 2013-14 is taking shape, and will feature changes for area teams.
North Dakota football realigns every two years. The plan follows a four-class formula, where the teams with the 14 largest enrollments are “AAA”, the next 16 largest enrollments “AA”, the next 32 enrollments “A”, and the remaining teams 9-man.
While there is no change in the “AAA” teams, the rest will see changes.
Maple Valley-Enderlin, Stanley-Powers Lake, and Watford City will join “AA” next season, moving up from “A” status this year. These teams replace Carrington, who dissolved their football co-op with Pingree-Buchanan-Kensal, along with Rugby and Bottineau.
All three of the former “AA” teams were west division (Region II) teams. With Enderlin-Maple Valley entering the mix, one current team in the east division (Region I) had to move west for a balance of eight teams in each league. That team will be Griggs-Barnes County.
The Titans absorbed the Pingree-Buchanan players, forming a larger co-op, and are now the sixth-largest “AA” team by enrollment. With their geographic area being closer to five of the remaining seven “AA” teams than Valley City, “AA”‘s next westernmost team, the Titans draw the assignment of west division football.
The east will now consist of Wahpeton, Valley City, Fargo Shanley, Grafton-St. Thomas, Central Cass, Kindred, Lisbon, and Enderlin-Maple Valley. The west will feature Belcourt, Bismarck St. Marys, Griggs-Barnes County, Beulah, Watford City, Dickinson Trinity, Stanley-Powers Lake, and Minot Ryan.
Carrington has been assigned to Region 1 of “A” football, the southeast region. A new team, Ellendale-Edgeley-Kulm, will join the region. Ellendale and Edgeley-Kulm have been competing as separate 9-man programs for the past several years.
But Region 1 saw massive changes. Linton-HMB and Milnor-North Sargent drop out of “A” to 9-man football. Along with inheriting Carrington and Ellendale-Edgeley-Kulm, the region also draws Hillsboro-Central Valley, another new 11-man co-op, and Larimore, due to former “AA” team Rugby and Bottineau moving down a class and taking up space in the northern part of the state.
Region 1 “A” football will now extend from the Red River to 60 miles west of Jamestown (Kidder County in Steele), and from the South Dakota border to U.S. Highway 2.
Only 37 teams remain for the 9-man class, which will allow three regions to schedule one non-conference game. Linton-HMB and Milnor-North Sargent will join Region 1, meeting LaMoure-L-M, Napoleon-Gackle-Streeter, Hankinson, South Border, Wyndmere-Lidgerwood, Sargent Central and Strasburg-Zeeland.
The next round of realignment, scheduled for the 2015 season, will likely at least one, if not two, new “AAA” teams, with a new school planned for West Fargo, and another being approved by voters in Bismarck just yesterday. One new team would allow Devils Lake to drop to “AA”. Two would either allow Devils Lake and Dickinson to leave, or force an expansion of “AAA” to 16 teams, keeping Devils Lake.
Devils Lake has been calling for smaller divisions in the “AAA” and “AA” ranks, and their argument may be helped by recent action in South Dakota that approved a seventh class of football, and expansion from their six-class system that had been in place for several years.
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