Football scheduling will change once again in 2015 as the Minnesota State High School League Board of Directors recently adopted a plan that places all member schools with football programs into districts.

In nearly all cases the placement of schools will not negatively affect traditional rivalries or preferred opponents, stated a release from the MSHSL.

However, the new districts will separate several Three Rivers Conference teams as neighbors Chatfield and Kingsland, for example, will not be in the same district.

Chatfield will be a part of the Southeast District, which includes Caledonia, Cotter, Dover-Eyota, Plainview-Elgin-Millville and St. Charles from the Three Rivers Conference. Other schools are Byron, Cannon Falls, Kasson-Mantorville, La Crescent, Lake City, Pine Island, Rochester Lourdes, Stewartville, Triton and Zumbrota-Mazeppa.

Fillmore Central and Rushford-Peterson will join Kingsland in the Mid Southeast Conference. Lewiston-Altura, Southland and Wabasha-Kellogg, which are in the Three Rivers Conference in other sports, is also in this district. Other schools are Bethlehem Academy, Blooming Prairie, Goodhue, Hayfield, Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton, Kenyon-Wanamingo, Mankato Loyola, Medford, St. Clair and United South Central.

The members of each district will divide the district into sub-districts, and then create a full schedule for each team.

Nine-man teams in the area will see little change as all schools in southeastern Minnesota are grouped in one district that goes across southern Minnesota.

For several years League staff, school administrators and football coaches have sought a solution for schools that have had difficulty filling their regular season football schedule as some schools had to go out of state to schedule games. A committee of coaches, athletic administrators and board members developed a district football scheduling system that was approved by the board in January. A separate District Placement Committee made up of coaches and administrators worked to group schools into districts based on enrollment, geography and like schools, while also considering individual school preferences for maintaining traditional opponents.

"Everyone needs to keep in mind that this is just a step in the process of developing actual schedules for our member schools," explained associate director Kevin Merkle in presenting the plan to the board. "Some districts have a wide range in school enrollment and geography, but once the districts determine their sub-district alignments, most of the enrollment and geographical issues will be solved."

The recommendation approved by the board of directors included: Placement of all schools in a scheduling district; final decision on appeals from schools that requested to be placed in nine-man; bylaws to guide the work of each district; allowing limited inter-district play upon approval of the board of directors; a plan for the initial meetings for each district that will be led by members of the District Football Placement Committee.

The 10-member District Football Placement Committee met five times since mid-March to place schools in districts, using enrollment, geography, like schools and current conference membership and current opponents as key criteria. Schools were given the opportunity to provide information to the committee in advance, including three teams that they would like to continue to schedule. Those requests were reviewed carefully and were met to the extent possible. More than 90 percent of the schools' requests were met, and a significant majority of schools were placed in a district with most, if not all, of the schools that they now play.

Districts will have initial meetings in the near future to discuss the placements and the next steps in the process. The next major step will be for districts to decide on sub-district alignments. Once that is completed, schedules for the 2015 and 2016 seasons can be developed. The goal is for all schools to have a complete schedule for both years by Nov. 1.