Football season has arrived - Bulletin area

If it seems as though the football season starts earlier and earlier every year, this year you would be right. Because of stadium availability issues for the Prep Bowl, the 2015 high school football season starts two weeks earlier than normal.

The first day of official practices was Monday as teams around the state began preparing for their first games, which are scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 22.

By the time Labor Day rolls around, the first three weeks of the regular-season schedule will have been completed. All three Bulletin-area high school squads will have played half of their home games by the time school starts on Sept. 7.

All of this came about because of the two highest-level gridiron teams in the state. The Minnesota Vikings contributed to the early start when it got approval to build a new stadium to replace the Metrodome, which was the annual host of the Prep Bowl over Thanksgiving weekend.

Following the 2013 Vikings season, the Metrodome was closed and demolished while construction of the new stadium began right next door. With the Metrodome no longer available and the new venue not scheduled to open until 2016, the Minnesota State High School League needed to find a temporary two-year home for the Prep Bowl.

The University of Minnesota’s TCF Bank Stadium ended up the choice and thus enter the Golden Gophers in this year’s saga. When the deal was struck to hold the Prep Bowl at “The Bank” for two years, the 2015 Big Ten football schedule was already set. That schedule included Minnesota hosting Wisconsin on Thanksgiving weekend and Illinois the week before that.

With those two weekends unavailable, the high school league elected to hold the Prep Bowl two weeks earlier than normal. That meant moving the Prep Bowl to Nov. 13 and 14.

Another change this season is the length of preseason camp. Normally, teams practice for three weeks prior to their first games but that would have meant starting fall camp on Aug. 3. The high school league, after consulting with the coaches association and health experts, decided to shorten fall camp to two weeks for this season.

Yet another difference with football scheduling this year has to do with the annual teacher’s convention in mid-October. Normally, the final game of the regular season is on a Wednesday night and then schools are closed the next two days for the convention.

This year, the first round of playoffs for the non-Class 6A sections is the Tuesday of convention week and the second round is the Saturday of that week. The Class 6A sections will hold their first-round games on Friday of convention week.

The 2015 Minnesota high school football season is also historic for yet another reason and this is one that will last past this year. This is the first season of “district scheduling.” No longer are teams forced to find their own non-conference games if their conference schedule doesn’t encompass all eight weeks of the regular season.

All of the prep football teams in the state are now assigned to a specific “district” and their schedules are comprised solely of teams from that district. For some schools, their schedules don’t look that much different than last year but for others, they are facing teams they haven’t played in a long, long time, if ever.

So with all that said, Minnesota’s high school football season got rolling on Monday. The following is a quick look at what each of the Bulletin-area high school football teams have on their schedules this fall.

Irondale

For the Knights, district scheduling is just the latest in a three-year saga of schedule changes. Irondale played its final season in the North Suburban Conference in 2013 and moved into the Northwest Suburban Conference in 2014. The 2015 schedule is a bit of a hybrid of the previous two years with a couple of new teams throw in.

Irondale is a member of the Suburban district, which has 16 teams and is divided into two eight-team sub-districts. Irondale is in the Red sub-district along with Benilde-St. Margaret’s, DeLaSalle, Park Center, Robbinsdale Armstrong, Robbinsdale Cooper, Spring Lake Park and St. Louis Park.

Each team plays the other seven teams in its sub-district and one team from the other sub-district. Waconia is Irondale’s district crossover opponent this season. The White sub-district includes Holy Angels, Bloomington Jefferson, Bloomington Kennedy, Chanhassen, Chaska, Orono, Richfield and Waconia.

Four of Irondale’s 2015 opponents are familiar names going back to the North Suburban Conference days. The Knights face former North Suburban rivals Benilde-St. Margaret’s, Spring Lake Park, St. Louis Park and Robbinsdale Cooper. St. Louis Park and Cooper departed the North Suburban Conference in the summer of 2013 and that was part of the conference’s ultimate demise.

Three teams on this year’s schedule are holdovers from last year’s Northwest Suburban Conference. Spring Lake Park, Robbinsdale Armstrong and Park Center are Northwest Suburban teams and all three were on the Knights’ schedule last year.

Irondale also has a couple of new teams on the docket this year in Waconia and DeLaSalle. Waconia belongs to the Wright County Conference while DeLaSalle is a member of the Tri-Metro Conference.

The Knights’ season opener is Aug. 22 at Waconia at 5 p.m. Irondale’s first home game is Aug. 28 at 7 p.m. against DeLaSalle and it also plays at home on Sept. 3 against Benilde-St. Margaret’s.

This year’s homecoming game is Sept. 25 against St. Louis Park.

When the Knights, under second-year head coach Ben Fuller, take the field at Waconia, they’ll be looking to snap a 10-game losing streak. Irondale struggled to a 0-9 record in 2014 and also lost its final game of the 2013 season.

Waconia went 4-5 in 2014 but finished the season on a four-game losing streak.

Mounds View

The switch to district scheduling hasn’t altered the Mustangs’ football schedule all that much. Last year as a member of the Suburban East Conference, Mounds View played seven conference foes and a non-conference game. This year’s schedule also features seven contests against teams from Suburban East Conference schools and a game against a non-SEC team.

The big difference from a year ago is that Mounds View isn’t faced with a four-hour bus ride and an overnight stay in a hotel to play that game. Instead, thanks to district scheduling, the Mustangs are staying home to host Farmington.

In 2014, Mounds View traveled to Menasha in eastern Wisconsin for a week-six non-conference game.

Now a member of the East Metro District, Mounds View plays the seven other teams in the Blue sub-district and one team from the White sub-district. The White sub-district is made up of Apple Valley, Burnsville, Eagan, Eastview, Lakeville North, Lakeville South, Rosemount and the aforementioned Farmington.

The East Metro district has a third sub-district, the Red, with 10 teams. Those 10 teams don’t play any teams from outside their sub-district.

The only Suburban East Conference team not in Mounds View’s sub-district is Park-Cottage Grove, which tried to gain admission to the Metro East Conference when it formed a year ago. Park’s football team is in the Red sub-district, which includes the Wolfpack and the nine schools from the Metro East Conference.

All of the sub-district crossover games are scheduled for week one so Mounds View opens the season at home on Aug. 22 against Farmington. Game time is scheduled for 7 p.m.

Mounds View, whose head coach Jim Galvin is entering his 15th season as the Mustangs’ head man, is coming off a 2014 season that saw it qualify for the state tournament after missing state the previous three seasons.

In addition to Farmington, Mounds View also hosts Forest Lake, Stillwater and Cretin-Derham Hall this fall. The Mustangs’ road games are against East Ridge, Roseville, White Bear Lake and Woodbury.

Homecoming is week six (Sept. 25) against Stillwater.

St. Anthony Village

Since joining the Tri-Metro Conference, the Huskies haven’t had to arrange too many non-conference football games. With the advent of district scheduling, St. Anthony has moved away from many of its conference foes.

Of its eight regular-season games this fall, St. Anthony is playing only three against Tri-Metro Conference teams.

St. Anthony was placed in the Maroon sub-district of the Twin City District, which has four sub-districts. Two of the sub-districts have seven teams and two have six teams.

The Maroon sub-district includes the Huskies, Fridley, Minneapolis Southwest, Minneapolis Washburn, St. Croix Lutheran, St. Paul Central and St. Paul Highland Park. Each team plays the other six sub-district teams and two from the other three sub-districts.

St. Anthony’s crossover games are against Mound Westonka and Brooklyn Center, which once were members of the Metro Alliance Conference along with the Huskies. Brooklyn Center is currently a member of the Tri-Metro Conference.

The Huskies open the season on Aug. 22 with a 1 p.m. home game against Mound Westonka. The rest of the schedule includes home games against Minneapolis Washburn, St. Paul Highland Park and Minneapolis Southwest and road games against St. Paul Central, St. Croix Lutheran, Brooklyn Center and Fridley.

St. Anthony celebrates homecoming this season in week eight (Oct. 9) against Minneapolis Southwest.

The Huskies are trying to build on their 6-4 2014 season that followed a 2-7 campaign in 2013. A year ago, St. Anthony started out 4-0, lost three of its last four and went 1-1 in the post-season.

Brian Meyers can be reached at bmeyers@lillienews.com or 651-748-7819. Follow him on Twitter @BMeyersNews.


2015 Irondale High School football schedule
Aug. 22 at Waconia 5 p.m.
Aug. 28 vs. DeLaSalle 7 p.m.
Sept. 3 vs. Benilde-St. Margaret’s 7 p.m.
Sept. 11 at Spring Lake Park 7 p.m.
Sept. 18 at Robbinsdale Armstrong 7 p.m.
Sept. 25 vs. St. Louis Park 7 p.m.
Oct. 2 vs. Robbinsdale Cooper 7 p.m.
Oct. 9 at Park Center 5 p.m.

2015 Mounds View High School football schedule
Aug. 22 vs. Farmington 7 p.m.
Aug. 28 at East Ridge    7 p.m.
Sept. 3 vs. Forest Lake    7 p.m.
Sept. 11 at Roseville 7 p.m.
Sept. 18 at White Bear Lake 7 p.m.
Sept. 25 vs. Stillwater    7 p.m.
Oct. 2 at Woodbury 7 p.m.
Oct. 9 vs. Cretin-Derham Hall 7 p.m.

2015 St. Anthony Village High School football schedule
Aug. 22 vs. Mound Westonka 1 p.m.
Aug. 28 at St. Paul Central 7 p.m.
Sept. 3 vs. Minneapolis Washburn 7 p.m.
Sept. 11 at St. Croix Lutheran 7 p.m.
Sept. 18 vs. St. Paul Highland Park 7 p.m.
Sept. 25 at Brooklyn Center 7 p.m.
Oct. 2 at Fridley 6 p.m.
Oct. 9 vs. Minneapolis Southwest 7 p.m.

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