Manitowoc Lincoln can expect a revamped Fox River Classic Conference in the near future, and Manitowoc Lutheran, Mishicot and Reedsville may be moving to an entirely new conference under proposed realignment plans brought forward at Wednesday’s WIAA regional meeting at Fox Valley Lutheran High School in Appleton.
The meeting focused on several realignment proposals from schools and conference across northeast Wisconsin. Among the suggestions were possible changes to the FRCC and the Olympian-Packerland, although nothing is known for sure until a final proposal is submitted on Oct. 11 with a final vote coming in early December.
Representatives from Pulaski and Ashwaubenon let WIAA associate director Deb Hauser, who is in charge of the realignment process, know that they would like to be considered for inclusion into the Bay, but would be OK with being placed in the FRCC.
That new-look FRCC would also include Bay Port, De Pere, Green Bay Preble, Green Bay Southwest, Manitowoc Lincoln, Notre Dame, Sheboygan North and Sheboygan South. It is a foregone conclusion that Green Bay East and Green Bay West will be leaving the FRCC for the Bay whenever realignment officially takes place.
If Pulaski and Ashwaubenon were to enter the Bay that would make the FRCC an eight-team conference and force schools like Lincoln and Green Bay Preble (enrollment 1570 and 2160, respectively) to look for non-conference games outside the area.
“I was aware that they had an interest in looking elsewhere,” Hauser said. “So I do tend to agree with the bigger schools in the FRCC that if we made it an eight-team conference, it would require them to go a long ways to find a non-conference football game. So I’m comfortable with the proposal I’ve put forward with the FRCC at this point.
“I don’t get that Ashwaubenon and Pulaski are adamantly opposed to being a part of (the FRCC) at this point.”
Lincoln AD John Johnson agreed with Hauser’s sentiment about the problem an eight-team FRCC would create in terms of non-conference games for all sports, not just football.
“I’m completely opposed to this idea (of Pulaski and Ashwaubenon leaving) and so are the other seven schools in the conference,” Johnson said. “It’s going affect our ability to schedule non-conference games not just for football but for sports like basketball and baseball.”
Another interesting development was the Central Lakeshore Conference representatives asking to merge with some teams in the Olympian/Packerland to form a new 14-team conference that would take some of the teams from the O/P: Hilbert, Manitowoc Lutheran, Mishicot, Reedsville and St. Mary Central.
That would leave the O/P with Gibraltar, Southern Door, Sevastopol, Sturgeon Bay, Algoma, NEW Lutheran, Kewaunee and Oconto as the remaining schools.
“That was a nice revelation today and I was happy to have that come forward,” Hauser said. “(The CLC) is struggling with football down there, they’re down to six teams. They’re looking to help themselves, which is a great thing. To have them here and be unanimous in wanting to do that … I’m going to look at that very strongly and that could be part of the final proposal.”
Also pleased with the CLC stepping forward was Reedsville AD Steve Mirsberger.
“We have encouraged Hauser to include the CLC into the conversation since several schools in the proposed O/P already play non-conference games together so there’s a very good working relationship,” Mirsberger said. “We suggested last spring the CLC might be interested in joining forces so this doesn’t come as much of a shock.”
Mirsberger stressed nothing is official yet but is intrigued by the new developments.
“I’m curious to see what we get in (Hauser’s) final draft,” said Mirsberger.
Ozaukee athletic director Lee Baldwin said the WIAA’s initial reaction to the proposal was positive. He added it would help other sports, especially wrestling; only five CLC schools field a team in that sport.
“We just think it’s a good idea for our conference,” said Baldwin. “It gives us more depth as a conference. We feel size-wise, school-wise, they’re all good fits.”
“It’s not like we’re getting unfamiliar opponents here,” Sheboygan Lutheran AD Al Holzheimer said, noting some CLC schools already are playing non-conference games against some of the O/P teams. Manitowoc Lutheran, for example, has already played Cedar Grove, Howards Grove and Ozaukee this season. Reedsville also played Howards Grove.
“We go to tournaments and see these teams,” he said, noting he thinks the new schools likely would make for competitive opponents.”