There are some major changes coming to the high school football landscape in South Dakota this fall.
The SDHSAA Board of Directors met Wednesday in Pierre, during which time they listened to appeals and finalized the new class alignments for the 2017-18 and 2018-19 seasons. In total, 48 teams were reclassified, a figure which includes the formation of three new co-ops, the dissolution of another and the return of varsity football at Centerville and Iroquois.
“(Alignments) are entirely based on the enrollment numbers that the Department of Education for the state of South Dakota gathers,” SDHSAA assistant executive director John Krogstrand said in a December interview. “This year, we made a request to the DOE for those average enrollment numbers from the first day of school up through the first Friday of December.”
Schools are allowed to petition up or appeal down. O’Gorman, for example, filed a petition to remain in 11AAA, though its ADM would place it in 11AA. Sisseton made a similar appeal and was approved to remain in 11B.
“Generally, we always have allowed teams to petition up to play in a classification higher than their enrollment places them,” Krogstrand explained.
There were no changes to the state’s two largest 11-man classes, but there was some shifting at 11A.
Tri-Valley and Little Wound are moving up, while Canton and Sioux Falls Christian are dropping down to 11B.
Both Sioux Falls Christian athletics director Jim Groen and football coach Jake Pettengill expect the Chargers to be back in 11A when enrollment figures are reexamined in two years.
“At our middle school, we have about 90 kids per grade and in our high school, we have about 60 kids per grade,” Pettengill said. “I keep telling people our school is getting larger and it’s going to get substantially larger in a few years… Our enrollment at Sioux Falls Christian right now is growing unbelievably.”
Four teams will be making the jump from 9-man to Class 11B, including Woonsocket/Wessington Springs/Sanborn Central, which has finished runner-up in 9AA in each of the last three seasons. Joining W/WS/SC in 11-man next year will be McLaughlin, Mt. Vernon/Plankinton and Stanley County. It’s worth noting that Mt. Vernon/Plankinton filed an appeal to remain in 9-man, but its request was denied by the SDHSAA.
The vast majority of changes to alignments came at the 9-man level.
Parkston and Jones County/White River have opted to field 9-man teams next season, dropping down from 11B.
There will be two new 9AA co-ops. Miller is signed on with Highmore-Harrold, which did not have football last season, to maintain its spot in the largest 9-man classification. The other new co-op – North Border – will be formed by four teams: Eureka, Bowdle, Leola and Frederick. Eureka/Bowdle and Leola/Frederick represented two separate co-ops in football last season.
According to an email published by the SDHSAA ahead of its latest board meeting, Tiospa Zina petitioned to maintain its 9-man classification and gain playoff eligibility. The board approved the school to remain in 9AA, but denied its request for postseason eligibility.
At 9A, a newly-formed partnership with Canistota will allow Freeman to bring back its football program. Their co-op is one of 15 new teams at the middle 9-man class.
Colman-Egan, last year’s state champ in 9A, fell to 9B, where it will be joined by fellow newcomers Centerville and Iroquois, both of whom re-added varsity football for the upcoming rotation.
“We’re actually swinging on back up with our numbers,” Centerville athletics director Doug Edberg said. “We have great numbers in our fifth and sixth grade, even our fourth. Our junior football program started a few years ago, and it’s really starting to boost up.”
Unlike the higher 9-man classes which featured the formation of new co-ops, 9B adds two teams that just dissolved theirs in Castlewood and Estelline.
Now that the class alignments have been finalized, the next step for the Board of Directors is to determine region and district alignments, a process which will take place at their meeting on March 1.
Follow Brian Haenchen on Twitter at @Brian_Haenchen .
2017-18 & 2018-19 SDHSAA Football Classifications
NEW TEAMS: None.
RETURNING: Aberdeen Central, Brandon Valley, Rapid City Central, Rapid City Stevens, Sioux Falls Lincoln, Sioux Falls O’Gorman, Sioux Falls Roosevelt, Sioux Falls Washington, Watertown.
NEW TEAMS: None.
RETURNING: Brookings, Douglas, Harrisburg, Huron, Mitchell, Pierre T.F. Riggs, Spearfish, Sturgis Brown, Yankton.
NEW TEAMS: Little Wound (11B), Tri-Valley (11B).
RETURNING: Belle Fourche, Cheyenne-Eagle Butte, Dakota Valley, Dell Rapids, Hot Springs, Lennox, Madison, Milbank Area, Pine Ridge, St. Francis, St. Thomas More, Tea Area, Todd County, Vermillion, West Central.
NEW TEAMS: Canton (11A), McLaughlin (9AA), Mt. Vernon/Plankinton (9AA), Sioux Falls Christian (11A), Stanley County (9AA), Woonsocket/Wessington Springs/Sanborn Central (9AA).
RETURNING: Aberdeen Roncalli, Bennett County, Beresford, Bridgewater-Emery/Ethan, Chamberlain, Crow Creek, Custer, Elk Point-Jefferson, Flandreau, Groton Area, Lead-Deadwood, McCook Central/Montrose, McLaughlin, Mobridge-Pollock, Red Cloud, Redfield/Doland, Sioux Valley, Sisseton, Wagner, Winner.
NEW TEAMS: Dupree (9B), Elkton-Lake Benton (9A), Hamlin (9B), Irene-Wakonda (9A), Jones County/White River (11B), Menno/Marion (9A), Miller/Highmore-Harrold (New co-op), North Border (New co-op: Eureka/Bowdle/Leola/Frederick), Parker (9A), Parkston (11B), Tri-State (9A), Viborg-Hurley (9A).
RETURNING: Arlington/Lake Preston, Baltic, Bon Homme, Dakota Hills, Deuel, Garretson Great Plains Lutheran, Gregory, Hill City, Kimball/White Lake, Rapid City Christian, Tiospa Zina, Webster Area, Wolsey-Wessington.
NEW TEAMS: Alcester-Hudson (9B), Avon (9B), Britton-Hecla (9AA), Canistota/Freeman (New co-op), Chester Area (9AA), Clark/Willow Lake (9AA), Corsica-Stickney (9B), De Smet (9B), Deubrook Area (9AA), Herreid/Selby Area (9AA), Howard (9B), Ipswich/Edmunds Central (9AA), Lower Brule (9B), Lyman (9AA), Oldham-Ramona/Rutland (9B), Timber Lake (9B).
RETURNING: Andes Central/Dakota Christian, Hanson, Lemmon/McIntosh, New Underwood, Newell, Philip, Platte-Geddes, Potter County, Warner.
NEW TEAMS: Castlewood (9A), Centerville (NEW), Colman-Egan (9A), Estelline (9A), Florence/Henry (9AA), Gayville-Volin (9A), Iroquois (NEW), Kadoka Area (9A), Scotland (9A), Sully Buttes (9A), Tripp-Delmont/Armour (9A), Waverly-South Shore (9A).
RETURNING: Bison, Burke/South Central, Colome, Crazy Horse, Dell Rapids St. Mary’s, Edgemont, Faith, Faulkton Area, Harding County, Hitchcock-Tulare, Langford Area, Northwestern, Sunshine Bible Academy, Wall.