If ever there was an argument for a new area football conference, or the obliteration of conferences all together, the seedings for the Section 8, Class 3A playoffs are evidence enough.
With a 7-1 record, the Pequot Lakes Patriots received the seventh seed for the playoffs. Pequot travels to Crookston for its opening-round game 7 p.m. today.
The Patriots tied for the best record in the section, but still slipped to No. 7 because of their schedule. Section teams are awarded more points for wins against 3A schools than against 2A schools.
Of Pequot's wins, all seven were against 2A schools.
"For each win against a 3A school, you get so many points, and for each win against a 2A school, you get so many points," said Pequot football coach Tony Maurer. "We didn't have the points to be ranked any higher because of who we played.
"The funny thing is if we would have beat Pine River, we might be seeded No. 1."
Don't look for Pequot to beef up its schedule next year, however.
"Clearbrook-Gonvick is coming into our (North Star) conference next year and our non-conference game will be against Braham (a 2A school)," said Maurer. "For us, we're fine with where we're seeded."
This is Pequot's first year in Class 3A.
The Patriots are a member of the North Star Conference whose members are all 2A schools, except PR-B and Pequot. But Pequot is growing and the Patriots have outgrown the conference.
The opportunity to join a new conference with all 3A schools was there, but neither Pequot nor Pine River-Backus accepted the proposal.
"We tried to build a conference with Pequot Lakes, Pine River-Backus, (Staples-Motley), Crosby-Ironton and Wadena-Deer Creek in one half and the rest of Section 8, Class 3A, in the other half, excluding Pelican Rapids and Roseau," said S-M activities director Glen Hasselberg. "We thought it was a go, but Pequot Lakes and Pine River elected to not be a part of it."
The proposal was discussed in September. C-I athletic director Roger Twigg was all for it.
"It's still on the agenda at the Mid-State Conference meeting, maybe adding a football conference for 2003," said Twigg. "We thought it was going to be a go, but apparently it wasn't going to work for Pequot and PR-B.
"Had it gone through, we would have saved 40 percent of our football travel costs. That's 40 percent that could go to another program.
"We go to International Falls tonight and it's costing us $550 just based on the present market. We could go to Staples six times for that money."
The reason the new conference didn't pan out is unclear. When asked, Maurer said he wasn't at the meeting and that Pequot athletic director Bob Ayd attended.
When asked about the decision, Ayd said it was because his coaches wanted to stay in the North Star.
"There were a number of proposals, but the coaches felt they wanted to stay where they're at," said Ayd. "Along with Pine River, we just decided to do that. We will look at that in the future, though."
Aitkin was asked if it wanted to join the new conference, but declined. The Gobblers play two 1A schools and four 2A schools in the Great River Conference.
With all these schools fighting to play in a football conference that is comparable to their section, maybe conferences should be abolished.
"My best response to going to section play, instead of conference play, would be, 'Tell me any conference that broke up because of anything other than football,'" said Hasselberg. "You won't find one. When was the last time a conference broke up because of baseball or any other sport?"
One of the biggest arguments against going to section play is that every two years a team could be in a different section. According to Hasselberg, schools don't find out what section they are in until after their schedules have been completed.
Hasselberg mentioned Wadena-Deer Creek as an example. Last year W-DC was in Section 8, Class 3A. Because Pequot and Pelican Rapids moved up to 3A, W-DC was moved to Section 6, Class 3A, even though its schedule was filled with Section 8 teams.
Next year, W-DC has already contacted Melrose and schools in Section 6 for games. However, two years from now, W-DC might be back in Section 8, thus making section schedules nearly impossible to plan.
Is there a quick fix to any of this? Not as long as populations continue to fluctuate and sections continue to be realigned.
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