High school fall sports season underway

If you’ve noticed a little extra activity around your local high school this week, it’s probably because official practices have started for the fall prep sports season. From cross country to football to volleyball, the kids are returning to school for first-week workouts and practices.

Here are a couple storylines involving Bulletin-area schools to watch for as the first games, matches and meets of the season approach. Look for more coverage in upcoming editions of the Bulletin as the season approaches.

Irondale’s new football coach

The Knights’ football team has a new head man following the resignation of Ben Geisler. Replacing Geisler is Ben Fuller.

Fuller comes to Irondale after coaching at St. Paul Highland Park for 10 years. He started as the offensive line coach with the Scots and eventually worked his way up to offensive coordinator and then assistant head coach.

In addition to coaching, Fuller is also a special education teacher at Irondale.

The Knights are coming off a 2013 season that saw them go 5-3 in the regular season. Included in those five wins was a victory over Spring Lake Park to claim the Block trophy for the first time since its inception in 2011.

In the post season last year, Irondale beat North St. Paul 54-32 in the section quarterfinals and lost 42-3 to Andover in the semifinals.

Conference changes galore

All three Bulletin-area high schools saw some sort of changes in their conference affiliation or conference makeup.

Irondale had the most drastic change as it said goodbye to the North Suburban Conference and hello to its new league, the Northwest Suburban Conference.

The North Suburban Conference had 11 member schools two years ago, but lost three members last year. When two more announced their intention to leave the conference at the end of the 2013-14 school year, the remaining six teams decided the best move was to disband the league and go their separate ways.

That sent those six schools in search of new conference homes and when no conference would accept them they were placed in existing conferences by the Minnesota State High School League. Irondale, Totino-Grace and Spring Lake Park wound up in the Northwest Suburban Conference, which now boasts 14 members.

St. Anthony Village and its Tri-Metro Conference brethren were also affected by the breakup of the North Suburban. The MSHSL ended up placing Columbia Heights and Fridley in the Tri-Metro and with Holy Angels also joining from the disbanded Missota Conference, the Tri-Metro expanded to 16 schools.

Not long after the Tri-Metro ballooned to 16 members, six members announced they would leave and form their own conference. Those six were Blake, Breck, Minnehaha Academy, Mounds Park Academy, St. Paul Academy and Providence Academy.

They originally announced they would play independent athletic schedules but later decided to form their own conference, the Independent Metro Athletic Conference.

That leaves the Tri-Metro Conference with 10 members.

The changes in the Suburban East Conference, which includes Mounds View, are slight compared to those mentioned above. Hastings has left the SEC to join the new Metro East Conference, leaving the Suburban East with nine member schools for the first time since before East Ridge High School joined in 2009.

While the loss of one school from a 10-team conference isn’t that much of a hardship, it did cause some problems for Mounds View’s football team. With only nine football teams in the conference, one member must play a non-conference game each week during the regular season. Mounds View was unable to find a game against a Minnesota team and was forced to schedule a game against Menasha, which is located about 280 miles east near Appleton, Wisc.

Brian Meyers can be reached at bmeyers@lillienews.com.

 

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