After discussions, and even agreement, that South Dakota should only have five or six classes of high school football, the Board of Directors punted right back to seven classes.

Heading into the start of the 2013 season, South Dakota was moved from six to seven classes of high school football with the birth of 11AAA. A highly debated topic, the Eastern South Dakota Conference looked to distance themselves away from Sioux Falls and the growing metro area.

Seven years after the split, discussions rose about whether we need seven classes of football in such a small state. The football advisory committee all agreed that getting to five or six classes is preferred, but reached out to more administrators and activities directors across the state to try and achieve the goal.

After some discussion, kicking the can down the road, and opposition from activities directors across the state as to how you divide up teams, South Dakota is right back to where we are.

Seven classes of high school football.

As part of the SDHSAA Board of Directors meeting on Wednesday, November 4, the football classifications took up a majority of the meeting. Proposals of using Average Daily Membership (ADP) or even past success were brought to the table, but all it took was one mention of grouping the Sioux Falls area schools to start the snowball of remaining a seven-class state.

The modified seven-class system will remove Watertown and Aberdeen Central from 11AAA and place them in 11AA. Tea Area will move from 11A to 11AA based on increasing attendance numbers. What this whole system has created is essentially the Metro Conference + Rapid City as 11AAA and the ESD plus some outliers in 11AA. The breakdown would be as followed:

11AAA:

  1. Brandon Valley
  2. Harrisburg
  3. O’Gorman
  4. Rapid City Central
  5. Rapid City Stevens
  6. Sioux Falls Jefferson
  7. Sioux Falls Lincoln
  8. Sioux Falls Roosevelt
  9. Sioux Falls Washington

11AA:

  1. Aberdeen Central
  2. Brookings
  3. Douglas
  4. Huron
  5. Mitchell
  6. Pierre
  7. Spearfish
  8. Sturgis
  9. Tea Area
  10. Watertown
  11. Yankton

11A:

  1. Belle Fourche
  2. Canton
  3. Chamberlain
  4. Custer
  5. Dakota Valley
  6. Dell Rapids
  7. Lennox
  8. Madison
  9. Milbank
  10. Sioux Falls Christian
  11. Sisseton
  12. Tri-Valley
  13. Vermillion
  14. West Central

11B:

  • All remaining 11-man teams not in the above groups.

9-Man Football:

  • No changes to classes.
  • 9AA, 9A, and 9B
  • *As long as there are 64 or more schools playing 9-man football. If the number drops below 64, 9-man automatically goes down to two classes.

This proposal passed through the SDHSAA Board of Directors 7-1 in favor to push the discussion to a second reading in January. All of this will be discussed and voted on again at that time.

Unless a new state-wide agreed-upon proposal comes forward prior to the next meeting, we can all continue to look forward to a new-look seven class system.

One that doesn't really change or fix anything.

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