By Jon Gremmels Herald Sports Editor
The Clinton Herald
---- — UPDATE: Press Release
The Mississippi Athletic Conference was notified by Assumption Catholic of their desire to play football at their enrollment level for the 2014 season. We respect their decision to play football at their enrollment level and Assumption Catholic will remain a member of the Mississippi Athletic Conference in all other sanctioned sports.
The Mississippi Athletic Conference and the Mississippi Valley Conference had a joint meeting in December. The discussion was facilitated by the IHSAA and included a variety of scheduling options including district football. In light of the decision by three schools in Eastern Iowa to participate in football at their enrollment level, the Mississippi Athletic Conference believes the district football concept is inevitable.
Realizing not all conference schools agree, it is the position of the Mississippi Athletic Conference to move forward with the district football concept.
The Mississippi Athletic Conference looks forward to the new opportunities that are on the horizon.
The Mississippi Athletic Conference Principals and Athletic Directors
CLINTON — District football might be on the way to Iowa’s largest class of schools, a group that includes Clinton High School
Decisions reportedly made this week by Davenport Assumption of the Mississippi Athletic Conference and Cedar Rapids Xavier and Dubuque Wahlert of the Mississippi Valley Conference might bring the change. Those three schools reportedly have decided to compete in Class 3A. In the past, the three schools have opted to play up in 4A with the rest of their conference schools although there enrollments would put them in 3A.
With those teams changing, their conferences would be forced to find a new scheduling format.
“I think so, but I really don’t know,” Clinton football coach Lee Camp said when asked if district football was on the way for all of 4A. “I assume the (athletic directors) will get together again or the (Iowa High School Athletic Association) would make a decision.”
Camp said he wasn’t surprised that Wahlert and Assumption made the decision, “but Xavier did catch me off guard.”
Xavier has been the state runner-up in 4A the past two seasons and opened the 2013 Class 4A playoffs with a 45-0 victory against Clinton.
There are 48 Class 4A schools in Iowa, and they have been split 24 and 24 between the east and west for postseason competition. The west side currently plays district football, but the 10-team MAC and 14-team MVC have kept conference competition.
Xavier ranks 52nd in attendance among Iowa schools, while Wahlert is 69th and Assumption is 87th. The 46th-, 47th- and 48th-largest schools — currently playing in Class 3A — are Council Bluffs Lewis Central, Newton and Norwalk. The former is in western Iowa, while the other two are in the central part of the state.
Camp said district football would have pluses and minuses.
“I think it’s whatever you want to make of it,” he said. “It could be exciting for a while to play somebody different.”
The change certainly would mean scheduling changes for the MAC school. With 10 teams in the conference, a nine-week regular season means each school currently plays every other conference school. That would change with eight six-team districts across the state. Clinton, the northern-most school in the MAC might be one of the schools most affected.
“I do think it will be done by geography, but I’d hate to predict what might happen,” Camp said. “I don’t know if they’d just lump the schools or mix them. I don’t know if we would be with the Dubuque schools or if they would put us more with the Quad Cities.”
Camp said a schedule with five district games and four non-district contests would give schools flexibility to keep rivalries alive even if schools are in different districts or even different classes.
“I would assume Bettendorf and Assumption would want to keep their rivalry, and (Dubuque schools) Senior and Hempstead against Wahlert would be good gates.”
But, Camp said he didn’t think the state would allow schools along state borders, such as Clinton and the rest of the MAC schools, to cross over and play teams from bordering states.
“It’s definitely going to be different,” he said. “There probably will be a lot of work at first. The way the state sounds, it would probably go two years and maybe change districts again.”
While the change likely will alter the 4A football format in eastern Iowa, it also could have a major impact on 3A districts in the area. Assumption, Xavier and Wahlert all share the geographical areas with local schools Central DeWitt and Maquoketa.
“I think that puts a pretty big challenge on those schools,” Camp said. “There are some pretty good programs in 3A on this side of the state, and those would be pretty competitive districts.”
Camp said, while he didn’t know what the timeline would be to decide on district play, he thought a final decision would come down by early in 2014.