Time to Balance 11AAA, 11AA Football Scheduling for 2017/2018
The switch was made a few years ago to divide 11AA into two different classes. Now with nine games played each year, it's time to balance the scheduling.
Schedules are set for two years at a time by the South Dakota High School Activities Association. A new set of schedules will be processed for the 2017/2018 season. The second year is just a flip of the home-away of the first year.
But, with the divide, it's time to really get these classes into their own. I understand that schedules are made the way they are to keep conferences in-tact, but it also leads to an unbalanced set. Issues geographically of west-river schools also prevent a true split of classes. I get that there are issues, but a balanced schedule would also be nice towards the end of the year.
Only three teams this season in 11AAA play a full AAA schedule. Those three teams are Brandon Valley, Rapid City Central, and Rapid City Stevens. Out of their nine games, they play the other eight 11AAA teams and only one 11AA team. The four Sioux Falls schools miss out on one 11AAA opponents each, while Watertown and Aberdeen benefit from missing out on two of the Sioux Falls schools.
11AA is even more of a mess. Huron is the only team in 11AA that plays a full 11AA schedule. Mitchell is the only team that misses just one 11AA team. The other teams range from playing six 11AA teams to just four in the class.
Here's a full breakdown of the current scheduling.
- Roosevelt: 7 vs. AAA. Missing Watertown
- Washington: 7 vs AAA. Missing Aberdeen
- O'Gorman: 7 vs. AAA. Missing Aberdeen
- Lincoln: 7 vs. AAA. Missing Watertown
- Brandon Valley: 8 vs. AAA
- Aberdeen Central: 6 vs AAA. Missing Washington/O'Gorman
- Rapid City Stevens: 8 vs AAA
- Rapid City Central: 8 vs AAA
- Watertown: 6 vs AAA. Missing Roosevelt/Lincoln
- Harrisburg: 6 vs AA. Missing Spearfish/Sturgis
- Mitchell: 7 vs AA. Missing Douglas
- Yankton: 6 vs. AA. Missing Spearfish/Sturgis
- Pierre: 6 vs. AA. Missing Douglas/Spearfish
- Huron: 8 vs AA
- Brookings: 6 vs. AA. Missing Spearfish, Sturgis
- Douglas: 6 vs AA. Missing Pierre/Mitchell
- Spearfish: 4 vs. AA. Missing Harrisburg/Yankton/Pierre/Brookings
- Sturgis: 5 vs. AA. Missing Harrisburg/Yankton/Brookings
I would take a page out of the NFL and college football in terms of scheduling. With nine teams in each class and nine weeks of football the breakdown is pretty simple.
Each team, in both 11AAA and 11AA, should play against ALL members of their class. Four games should be at home and four games on the road (8 total). The last remaining game on the schedule should be against the other class based on prior year standings and a rotation of home/away per year.
Let's take a look at the current year from where we stand today.
Based on the current standings (as of 9-29-16), next year's cross-conference games would consist of Roosevelt/Harrisburg, Washington/Mitchell, Brandon Valley/Yankton, O'Gorman/Spearfish, Aberdeen Central/Huron, Lincoln/Douglas, Stevens/Pierre, Watertown/Sturgis, and Central/Brookings. These games could be scheduled in the middle of the season, week five for example.
11AA can host the first year, while 11AAA would host the second year. The only game that would change for the second year would be how the teams finished the first year.
The benefit to this change would be that each class features a round-robin within their own nine teams, a "even" matchup with the opposite class based on prior year finish, and the schools continue to either host four or five home games.
This would balance out the entire season and give the opportunity for the classes to have a true split.
I don't make the decisions when it comes to scheduling, but it would be nice to have a system in place that would dissolve the need for seed points and give a better reason to have the split in classes.