By Charlie Warner
Rumors had been circulating for some time that a movement had been underfoot to combine the Hiawatha Valley League (HVL) and Three Rivers Conference (TRC) into one super conference for football.
Those rumors became a reality last week when it was announced that a new Southeast Minnesota Football Conference has been formed and approved by the 25 school districts that will be part of it.
Competition in the realigned conference will begin the fall of 2013.
The super conference will be split up into three divisions, predicated on enrollment figures for 7 through 12 grades.
The biggest surprise, at least locally, is that Caledonia will be placed in the division with the smallest schools.
It appeared as if the Warriors, who have won four Class AA state championships in the past five years, would be placed in the middle division. Geographically, it made the most sense, as the majority of the eight schools in that division are located in a fairly close proximity to Caledonia.
And it also appeared if the enrollment figures for the top four grades would be used, Caledonia would be one of the smaller schools in the middle division.
Instead of joining Dover-Eyota, Kenyon-Wanamingo, Lewiston-Altura, Pine Island, St. Charles, Triton, Winona Cotter and Zumbrota-Mazeppa in the middle division, Caledonia will be placed in Division Three with Chatfield, Fillmore Central, Goodhue, Hayfield, Kingsland, Rushford-Peterson, Southland and Wabasha-Kellogg.
Hayfield and Goodhue are the two schools from the HVL that the Warriors haven’t been competing against on a regular basis.
Each of the teams within the three divisions will play each other once, with the two largest enrollment-leagues also crossing over for one non-conference game.
Because there are nine schools in Division Three, all of the regular season games will be played within that division. The annual opening season grudge match with Plainview-Elgin-Millville, which will be in Division One, will be no more.
PEM is the only TRC school that will be part of Division One. The other schools, all from the HVL include Byron, Cannon Falls, Kasson-Mantorville, La Crescent, Lake City, Rochester Lourdes and Stewartville.
The most challenging endeavor for the Caledonia coaching and administrative staff will be finding games for Warrior junior varsity and junior high squads. Being the largest school in Division Three, Caledonia still has the numbers to field JV and junior high teams, while many of the smaller schools do not.
“We might be forced to do a lot of traveling to make that work for our JV and junior high teams and with the tight budgets we’re working with, that could be a real challenge,” Caledonia Middle/High School Paul DeMorett noted.
A change in the 2012 football season in Minnesota is the addition of a seventh division. The class, which will be known as 6A, will be made up of the 32 high schools in Minnesota with the highest enrollment. As it stands now, Minnesota high school football has nine-man through Class 5A. That will change this fall to nine-man through Class 6A.
You can contact Charlie Warner at [email protected]