Nov. 10, 2010
East and Denfeld get a conference, for
By Rick Weegman
The ongoing saga of where the Duluth public high school football
teams will play has been resolved — for now.
Late last week, a six-person Minnesota State High
School League committee placed Duluth East and Duluth Denfeld in
the Mississippi 8 Conference starting in 2012. The Duluth schools
previously had applied to — and been rejected by — the
Mississippi 8, Central Lakes and Sea-Range conferences, leaving
the matter in the hands of the MSHSL.
“Ultimately, it was probably the right choice,”
said Duluth Central activities director Tom Pearson, whose school
will close at the end of the school year and reopen as Denfeld in
2011-12. “Geographically speaking, I would have loved to be
in the Sea-Range, but size-wise it didn’t make any sense.
Nobody wanted us, but the committee made a decision that works for
our school. We’re used to travel, so that’s not too
big of a deal. I think it’s a good fit for us.”
The Mississippi 8 is currently composed of Becker,
Big Lake, Buffalo, Cambridge-Isanti, Monticello, Princeton, Rogers,
St. Michael-Albertville and Zimmerman in all sports, with the addition
of Elk River in football. Princeton, Zimmerman and, possibly, Becker
are leaving in 2011 to form the Granite Ridge Conference with Foley,
Little Falls, Milaca, Mora and St. Cloud Cathedral. Elk River has
given indications it might leave by 2012.
“Our conference is really in flux,”
Cambridge-Isanti activities director Mark Solberg said. “We’re
trying to figure out who is the Mississippi 8.”
Concerns over transportation costs were cited
by the CLC and the Mississippi 8 for originally denying Duluth schools
entry, while disproportional school enrollments caused the Sea-Range
to vote no. All sides had their say at a MSHSL placement meeting
“We’re happy to be somewhere,”
East AD Shawn Roed said. “We’re looking forward to being
in a conference and play for something during the regular season
and have a schedule ready to go.
“We’d love to be closer to home, but
we already travel and being in the Mississippi 8 is probably closer
than being in the Central Lakes.”
While East’s schedule is set for 2011, the
same is not true at Denfeld. After adding Simley to the schedule
Tuesday, Pearson said the Hunters still have four openings in 2011.
He said he hadn’t signed contracts, hoping the school would
be placed in a conference next year.
“We’re still on our own for scheduling
and hoping to get some help from the Central Lakes and Mississippi
8 to fill some games,” he said. “At this moment, we’re
scratching and clawing for every game we can find.”