Proposal by NDHSAA could allow Central Valley players a chance to play

VALLEY CITY, N.D. -- A proposal submitted Wednesday appears to be the Hail Mary play Central Valley's Dusty Schildberger and Ethan Proznik need in order to play high school football next fall.

Central Valley seniors
Central Valley High School football players Dustin Schildberger, left, and Ethan Proznik are without a team after Central Valley dropped football for next season due to a lack of players. photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald

VALLEY CITY, N.D. -- A proposal submitted Wednesday appears to be the Hail Mary play Central Valley's Dusty Schildberger and Ethan Proznik need in order to play high school football next fall.

In the final day of the North Dakota High School Activities Association Board of Directors meetings, the state football advisory committee brought forth a proposal that would allow schools to form an emergency co-op within its existing two-year football plan.

If approved at a special board of directors meeting scheduled for next Wednesday, it could pave the way for Schildberger and Proznik to play their senior seasons at Hillsboro. They are currently without a team after Central Valley's program dissolved.

"I think the wording of the guidelines, if approved, will make this happen," said NDHSAA executive secretary Sherm Sylling. "I think some board members will struggle with the fact that the existing rules didn't apply. I think they are beyond that. I think they are going to find a way for these kids to play."

The Board previously tabled a motion made on Tuesday that would have allowed Schildberger and Proznik to play on the varsity and for the remaining Central Valley football players Grades 9-11 to play junior varsity at Hillsboro.


Central Valley and Hillsboro appealed an April 16 Board vote that ruled against the co-op attempt on the grounds that the state was in the second year of a two-year football plan.

"When I went out of (Tuesday's) meeting I felt pretty good," former Central Valley football coach Randy Vigen said. "I thought they were looking for any way possible that they could get this thing through and still be covered for future situations."

Central Valley and Hillsboro failed at creating a co-op for football in the fall of 2010. The schools' co-op in every sport except football and their joint application for a football co-op in 2013-14 was approved Tuesday.

Todd Olson, NDHSAA board and football advisory committee member, said the proposal is meant to cover similar situations in the future.

"I think as we talked about it we wanted something that wasn't built for one situation," Olson said. "There are some football programs around the state that are probably in danger. To the board it made a lot more sense to try to use it for the next football plan and the next one after that."

The advisory committee's proposal states that schools may apply for an emergency co-op for the second season of a current football plan only if they meet the following criteria:

• An approved co-op for the following two-year football plan must be in place prior to being eligible for an emergency co-op.

• Emergency co-op applications will only be considered if the requesting school has provided proof that student athletes have no opportunity to compete at the varsity level for the second year of the existing plan.


• If the emergency co-op is approved, the school with the largest enrollment will be the host school of the co-op. The host school's current schedule and division placement will be used for the second year of the existing plan.

• Only seniors from the applying school would be eligible for varsity competition for a $1,000 non-compliance fee per player. Junior varsity players could compete for a $200 fee.

The fees are meant as deterrent for schools to take advantage of the emergency co-op. But for Schildberger and Proznik, it is their ticket to play Friday nights next fall.

"I'm just looking at making sure our kids can play," Vigen said. "This is a much needed clause to be added to the football plan.

"I don't have an issue with the fee. Somebody is going to have to pay for it. We'll have to determine how that is going to happen. If we have eight or nine kids it is not a deal breaker."

The Forum and the Herald are both owned by Forum Communications Co.

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