School officials still seeking input on decision to opt to Class A
The clock is ticking for Killdeer Public School officials to decide whether the football team will to stay in Class A and play 11-man or drop to Class B and play 9-man division next year.
They have until Sept. 30 to report to the North Dakota High School Activities Association their decision to option up into Class A and play 11-man football against larger schools or to play 9-man football in Class B against schools similar to Killdeer’s enrollment. Killdeer has an enrollment that would place the team in Class B.
However, Killdeer has never played 9-man, said Andrew DesRosier, the school’s director of athletics. And the Cowboys have been very successful in Class A, having won a state championship and a dozen regional titles. They played in the state finals the past two seasons.
School officials sought input from the community with a forum explaining the situation on Sept. 14. Roughly 40 people attended the meetings, sharing their thoughts, ideas and concerns regarding the two choices.
“We certainly invite the public to share an opinion,” said Andrew DesRosier, Killdeer director of athletics.
DesRosier developed a power point that shows where the Cowboys football team would be placed in Class A and Class B situations. The power point can be viewed on the school’s Web site.
Student safety, travel constraints and historical rivalries are among the main considerations for school officials, said DesRosier.
If Killdeer decides to remain in Class A, it would have the second smallest approximate enrollment in the division, based on a state-developed formula. Based on an adjusted enrollment number calculated using the school’s seventh-through-10th-grade enrollment and the percentage of students in the district utilizing free and reduced lunch, Killdeer has an approximate enrollment of 62.3
By contrast, Beulah, the school with the largest approximate enrollment, has a figure of 105.79.
If the Cowboys remain in Region 4. Potentially, it would be made up of Beulah, Southern McLean, Dickinson Trinity, Hazen, Bowman County and either New Town, Standing Rock or Garrison Max. All the schools have a larger enrollment, and Beulah and Dickinson Trinity would be dropping down from Class AA.
In Class B, the Cowboys would be placed in Region 7, which would be made of Trenton/Trinity Christian, Tioga, Ray/Powers Lake, Divide County and Parshall/White S. Killdeer’s enrollment would be in the middle of the pack.
These regions would be in place for the next two years before a new plan would be put into place. The NDSAA reviews, and if necessary, modifies those plans every two years.
While many are staunch about remaining in Class A, citing tradition and past successes. Others are looking at participation numbers that could become safety issues.
An informal survey by the Dunn County Herald of 20 Dunn County residents indicated an even split.
“It’s not an easy choice You can’t look past tradition,” said Lance Larsen, who had a son play varsity last year and another coming up from junior high school next year. “But I can see it the other way, too. “I’d like to see us stay. But I can see and understand the concerns over the numbers. It gets to be a big concern.”
“We don’t want to put out boys in a situation where they are mismatched and their safety could be in jeopardy,” DesRosier said.
This year, Killdeer has 32 players on the varsity in grades 9 through 12. And they have 19 boys in junior high program.
Those numbers pale in comparison to some of the teams that will be in Region 4 next year. For example:
• Hazen has 46 varsity members and 36 in the junior high program
• Dickinson Trinity has 47 on the varsity and 32 in the junior high program
• Beulah has 33 boys on the varsity and 32 in the junior high program
• Heart River has 34 on the varsity and 27 in the junior high program
“I am in the middle of this thing,” said Killdeer head coach Lou Dobitz. “But we are a small school. We don’t have the numbers the others do.”
The state revamped the classification sizes, reducing Classes AAA and AA but increasing the number of Class A schools. There will be 14 schools in Class AAA next year, down from 16, and 10 in Class AA, a reduction of six schools.
That means there will be a total of 32 schools in Class A, an increase of eight schools. Killdeer would have the second-smallest enrollment.
The state is placing schools based on an adjusted enrollment number calculated used the percentage of students in the district utilizing free and reduced lunch.
The adjusted enrollment is determined by subtracting the number of students corresponding to half the percentage of students on free and reduced lunch from the male enrollment.
The state’s plan uses the school’ seventh-through-1oth-grade male enrollment.
The state’s plans are developed and implemented every two years.
For Dobitz, where they play won’t affect how they play.
“I know the boys will compete,” Dobitz said.