MENNO/SCOTLAND TO PLAY IN 11-MAN CLASSIFICATION
JEREMY WALTNER – PUBLISHER
The new football cooperative between Menno and Scotland will be known as the Jim River Trappers and will compete at the 11-man level — not 9-man as was originally expected.
Both announcements came last week after football players settled on the team name and the South Dakota High School Activities Association denied an appeal from Menno Superintendent Tom Rice, on behalf of the cooperative, to remain 9-man.
“It is a surprise because the (projections) were off by about 10 kids,” Rice told The Courier, which is what put the cooperative over the 9-man/11-man ADM cutoff of 56.001. “We just used the wrong set of numbers and it got by us.”
Rice asked for an appeal at the SDHSAA’s meeting last week Wednesday, Jan. 13, the same meeting in which the board formally approved the state’s seven football classifications.
“We did sell it as nine-man football,” Rice told the board, according to reporting by Dana Hess for the South Dakota Newspaper Association.
Hess’s reporting continued:
“The cooperative sought a reduction in its 58.042 ADM by discounting two special needs students listed in the Scotland rolls but schooled in Sioux Falls and one student who didn’t come to school.
“(SDHSAA Assistant Executive Director John Krogstrand) said it’s not uncommon for bigger schools and reservation schools to have truant students. He said the cooperative would have the option to stay in nine-man but forego postseason play.
“Rice said in a case like that, he’d have to ask, ‘Why the heck are we playing?’
A motion to approve the appeal died for a lack of a second and was rejected.
Rice told The Courier early this week that he is looking forward to seeing the Jim River Trappers take the field despite the surprise in classification.
“I’m not disappointed at all because we have a new co-op,” he said. “While everybody was expecting to play 9-man, I’m fine with this. I’m looking at it from the most positive side that I can. It’s an opportunity for two more kids to play on every snap.”
Rice notes that Scotland has historically had a strong 11-man tradition; the Highlanders won an 11B title in the 1980s and Rice remembers playing them in the Big Sioux Conference when he was the head football coach in Beresford. He also notes that, while 11-man football includes larger schools and will mean additional travel time and miles, the game isn’t that much different than 9-man football.
“The game is virtually the same,” he said, noting the only difference is the addition of two tackles, which makes the defense more effective in stopping the five players on the field cabable of scoring.
He hopes parents and fans can get behind the Trappers in the same way the students have. It was the players, after all, who voted to make the move to 11-man and stay in playoff contention as opposed to remain 9-man and lose the chance to make the postseason.
“It’s not like we’re closing the book; we’re starting a new chapter,” Rice said. “There is fear of change and I get that, but it’s not about the adults. It’s about our kids being able to play football and sustain a program for years to come.
“For right now we are going to serve our kids to the best of our ability with an opportunity to go to the playoffs,” he continued, noting that the top 16 teams of the 29 teams in 11B advance. “We’re going to teach our kids to play the right way and coach our kids to the best of our ability.
“Let’s not over think this.”
Menno and Scotland aren’t the only schools making the jump from 9-man to 11-man. Others include Rapid City Christian, Baltic, Hill City, Parker, Deuel, Clark/Willow Lake, Tripp-Delmont/Armour/AC/DC and Dakota Hills.
The other teams include Beresford, Hot Springs, Lead-Deadwood, Flandreau, Elk Point-Jefferson, Redfield, Winner, Wagner, Sioux Valley, Mobridge-Pollock, Webster Area, Aberdeen Roncalli, Bridgewater-Emery/Ethan, McCook Central/Montrose, Miller/Highmore-Harrold, Woonsocket/Wessington Springs/Sanborn Central and St. Thomas More.
As for the team name, Rice said several options were selected by student bodies from both schools before the football players made the final pick. Other options included the Bandits and Stampede.
The Trappers will wear black and Vegas gold and will sport a mascot similar to that used by the Pierre Trappers, which play baseball in the Wood Bat League. That mascot is pictured below.