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PREP FOOTBALL: Minnesota State High School League Board of Directors approve 2015 dates

With the state championships — also known as the Prep Bowl — set for Nov. 14-15, two weeks earlier than usual, at TCF Bank Stadium, football practices in 2015 will begin Aug. 10.

The regular season will remain eight games and the playoff format will not change. Football games will be played on Aug. 22 when scrimmages are usually held, leaving two weeks of preseason practice instead of three.

“It’s unfortunate, but you have to do what you have to do in order to make things work,” Hawley coach Peder Naatz said. “The days you do have practice, you’ll have to go longer. That’s going to be difficult dealing with heat issues. The product on Game 1 is not going to be nearly as typical as it normally is. It’s going to be a little bit different for everybody.”

That’s one thing rivals Hawley and Barnesville can agree on.

“The thing that surprises me is that they are taking a whole week of practice away before that first game,” Barnesville coach Bryan Strand said. “I would have rather started Aug. 3. You get to work out a whole lot of stuff in those scrimmages and see who is ready for the speed of the game. It is what it is. Everybody is going to be in the same boat.”

For teams like Mahnomen, which has had plenty of extra games thanks to back-to-back state titles, the new schedule doesn’t really faze the Indians.

“For us, the last few years that wouldn’t have been an issue at all because our team was ready thanks to postseason play,” Mahnomen coach John Clark Jr. said. “I don’t think that’ll be much of a factor. You can do things in the summer to help get your team ready and a lot of people are doing that with workouts before contact days.”

The Metrodome hosted all 31 Prep Bowls dating back to 1982. With it being demolished, the Prep Bowl was moved to TCF Bank Stadium for 2014 and 2015, while a new Vikings stadium is built.

The problem with 2015 scheduling is that the University of Minnesota hosts Wisconsin on Nov. 28, and the Prep Bowl is usually held the day after Thanksgiving. Adding to the problem is the home game for the Gophers against Illinois Nov. 21, which bumped the Prep Bowl forward two weeks. The Vikings are also playing home games at TCF in 2015, so moving games to Sunday was also taken away.

“If school starts as normal, the Tuesday after Labor Day, that would be our Week 4 game,” Strand said. “If a team had a Zero Week (game), it would be Week 5. To think half your season would be over by the first week of school is kind of weird.”

Softball changes

The MSHSL board also voted unanimously to move softball from three classes to four classes in 2015 season.

Chris Murphy

Chris Murphy is a sports reporter for the Forum. He's covered high school and college sports in Chicago, North Dakota and Minnesota since 2009 and, for some reason, has been given awards for doing so.

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