The Fillmore Central Falcons are one of nine schools in the new Blue Division of the newly formed Southern Football Alliance (SFA).

The Three Rivers Conference and the Hiawatha Valley League combined forces this season and created three divisions within the SFA. Other members of the Blue Division are Caledonia, Chatfield, Goodhue, Hayfield, Kingsland, Rushford-Peterson, Southland and Wabasha-Kellogg.

With nine schools in the Blue, nine dates have to be used to get the complete round robin of games played. Each school will have a bye week, with the other eight schools matching up each week. And with the nine dates needed, the alliance got special permission from the Minnesota State High School League to play their first round of games during what is called "zero week," which is one week earlier than most of the other schools in the state.

Fillmore Central drew its bye the first week and will open the 2013 schedule next week, Aug. 30, at Rushford-Peterson. Chris Mensink is starting his seventh year as the head coach for the Falcons' football team. FC's other opponents this year include Hayfield (H), Kingsland (A), Chatfield (H), Caledonia (A), Wabasha-Kellogg (H), Goodhue (A) and Southland (H).

Last year the Falcons had a 2-7 record, getting wins over Wabasha-Kellogg (6-0) and Kingsland (45-27). Fillmore Central's record during Mensink's tenure is 20-36.

Fillmore Central will have 43 players, grades nine to 12, on its 2013 roster: 16 seniors, seven juniors, nine sophomores and 11 freshmen. Assisting Mensink with the coaching, all levels, are Jim Love, Kyle Rundquist, Andrew Pederson, David Broadwater, Tris Tollefson and Tim Ostrom.

Captains this year are Logan Masters, Tom Henry, McKinnen Stone, Andy Love and Dylan Birch, all seniors.

Returning starters (grade, height, weight, position), either offense or defense: Logan Masters (senior, 5'7", 140 lbs., WR/CB), Tom Henry (senior, 5'11, 180, RB/LB), McKinnen Stone (senior, 5'11, 192, RB/LB), Andy Love (senior, 5'11, 156, OL/DL), Dylan Birch (senior, 5'10, 275, C/DL), Clay Fishbaugher (senior, OL/DL), Ascher Ostrom (senior, 6'4, 241, OL/DL) and Collin Bennett (senior, 6'2, 166, WR/DE).

Other returning letter winners include, Bryce Whitehill (junior, QB/LB), Tyson Ristau (sophomore, RB/LB), Gatlin Woellert (jr., RB/LB), Nick Mensink (jr., TE/DE), Will McKernan (sr., TE/S), Jesse Nelson (sr., OL/DL), Zach Sorenson (junior, OL/DL), Kirby O'Connor (senior, WR/CB) and Jordan Miller (junior, WR/CB). Five seniors, three returning from injuries (Monty Holm, Connor Hanson, Josh Jones) and two new players (Quentin Case, Brady McCabe) will also find playing time, said coach Mensink, along with two new juniors, Dylan Bathke and Lee Dyreson.

"Experience at the skill positions is going to be a weakness," said Mensink. "We graduated our quarterback, tailback, tight end and a couple wide receivers. We look to be very competitive in the new conference and be prepared for the section tournament."

Coach Mensink sees Caledonia, Chatfield and Rushford-Peterson to be the teams to beat in the new division.

The Section 1A teams remain the same: Bethlehem Academy, Blooming Prairie, FC, Goodhue, Kingsland, Rushford-Peterson, Southland and Wabasha-Kellogg. Last year the Falcons lost to R-P, 21-7, in the first round of the 1A playoffs.