New Conference Alignment Eliminates Traditional Football Rivalries

Olivia Vanden Elzen, Staff Writer, Advanced Journalism

Last Friday the Wisconsin Football Coaches Association and WIAA released a revised football-only conference realignment, where among all of the changes, the Fox River Classic Conference has been altered.

The Fox River Classic Conference previously included Ashwaubenon High School, De Pere High School, Green Bay Preble High School, Green Bay Southwest High School, Bayport High School, Manitowoc Lincoln High School, Pulaski High School, North and South Sheboygan High Schools and Notre Dame Academy.

Under the new proposal, the FRCC will have 14 teams (previously 10) broken up into two separate divisions (FRC-1 and FRC-2) , in which the seven high schools with the largest enrollment will be in the FRC-1 and the latter seven in the FRC-2.

The revision then goes on to explain that the teams in the FRC-1 will include Green Bay Preble , De Pere, Pulaski, West De Pere, Ashwaubenon, Green Bay Southwest, and Bay Port.

The FRC-2 will then include Sheboygan North, Sheboygan South, Manitowoc, Notre Dame, Green Bay West, and Green Bay East. Therefore, all of the same teams originally in the FRCC will remain in the conference, but the conference will now include West De Pere, Menasha, Green Bay East and Green Bay West from the Bay Conference.

As one can expect, there has been some uproar to the questionable competitive balance this new assignment brings, especially for our very own competitive, yet smaller, Notre Dame Academy.

Scott Venci from The Green Bay Press Gazette says it best in his article, High school football: WIAA, WFCA update realignment plan, when he writes, “At first glance the new FRCC proposal puts most of the good programs in one division and many struggling ones in the other. Notre Dame and Menasha are the exceptions in FRC-2, but schools such as Manitowoc and East still will have a better opportunity to make the playoffs.”

Yes, the plan may be assisting the struggling teams to reach the playoffs, but on the flip-side, it is hurting the teams like Notre Dame who are used to playing the bigger, better teams which in the long-run has been advantageous for their programs when it comes to the postseason.

“While there are certainly issues with the competitive balance of the proposed conferences, I believe the geographic split hurts NDA. I think our players have enjoyed playing against some of their grade school classmates who choose to attend Southwest, Preble, De Pere, etc, and those opportunities will be greatly minimized unless we use the non-conference games to that effect. In addition, the proposal eliminates most of the traditional rivalry-type games that NDA has been fortunate to be a part of for the for the last two decades,” said Mike Rader, NDA’s head football coach.

Rader is not the only one who feels this way. Bay Port coach Gary Westerman said, “I think it’s gone so much the other way that some of the middle of the road teams in our league, this is really going to hurt them. So, it’s going to help the very bottom teams. I like to play really good teams. I’d really like to play Notre Dame (in the crossover game); that’s always a competitive game.”

However, Westerman does go on to say, “We are going to play who we are going to play, so it is what it is.”

Though there may be some imbalance, it is impossible to please everyone involved with the change. At the end of it all, what really matters is that the players and coaches will still be able to play and coach high school football.  

This proposal will not become official until March 1 where the WIAA Board of Control and school administrator will be able to speak their concerns and support. There will also be a 40-day official appeal opportunity if the proposal is indeed approved. The conference realignment will then be put into place beginning in the 2020 season.