In just its third season, the Valley Football Association is in for a slight change.
Menasha and Hortonville will be trading places, with the Polar Bears moving to the Fox Valley Association and Menasha finding a home in the Bay Conference as part of a realignment proposal presented to the WIAA Board of Control on Friday.
Starting with the 2014-15 school year, VFA South Division members Stevens Point Area Senior High, Wisconsin Rapids Lincoln and Marshfield will replace Menasha on their schedules with Hortonville.
Hortonville athletic director Andy Kolosso was all smiles walking out of the conference room after receiving the board’s approval on the plan.
“We think our (athletic) programs match up much better in the FVA than the Bay Conference. A lot of our programs already play VFA schools,” Kolosso said. “We look at it as a challenge, but a good challenge.”
Three other proposals for realignment were presented to the board for first consideration, and all four were unanimously approved, including the move of Menasha and Hortonville.
There will be a 40-day appeal period that will end Oct. 23 after which time the board plans to schedule a special meeting or conference call prior to its regularly scheduled December meeting for final approval.
All four plans will be implemented for the 2014-15 school year.
“I haven’t heard any negative comments or opposition to the move,” Menasha athletic director Rick Grable said. “This is an opportunity for us to be in a conference with more like-sized schools.”
The Cloverbelt Conference East Division is headed for a new look too, with Augusta leaving for a place in the Dairyland Conference.
A preliminary plan also was brought to the attention of the board involving future realignment for the Green Bay area involving more than 70 schools expected to be in place prior to the 2015-16 school year.
More specific discussions on those plans will take place during a Section 3 area meeting scheduled at Fox Valley Lutheran High School on Sept. 25.
“It’s a pretty involved plan, but I can’t tell how unhappy people are because there has not been a tremendous amount of unhappiness expressed,” WIAA associate director Deb Hauser said.
“I reserve the right to modify the proposal and bring it back to the board at the December meeting. What we have learned is the bigger the conference, the better. They want at least 10 schools so they don’t have to find (football) games.”
Additional changes would find Saint Francis moving to the Midwest Classic Conference from the Woodland and Wayland Academy leaving the MCC to join the Trailways Conference.
West Salem fought a proposal to send the Panthers from the Coulee Conference to the Mississippi Valley Conference, which is composed of considerably larger schools, in football only.
Scheduling issues in football among three conferences involved in the plan — the Southwest Wisconsin Conference, Coulee and MVC — have been ongoing for nearly a decade.
The latest plan ultimately received initial approval over loud objections from West Salem officials present at the meeting.
“This biggest thing is this has been a long time coming and we needed to do something to get this off the starting blocks,” said Lake Mills Superintendent Dean Sanders, who served as the hearing officer during the meeting.
“We feel for West Salem, but this is a good plan for all three conferences and overall it’s going to solve a lot of problems so they’re not playing somebody twice in a year.”