Hillsboro-Central Valley football moving back to Class 2A

VALLEY CITY, N.D. -- The last loss suffered by Hillsboro-Central Valley was in the 2016 Class 2A state playoffs. The Burros were undefeated Class 1A state champions last season and are undefeated and ranked No. 1 in 1A this season.

Hillsboro-Central Valley wide receiver Riley Pederson, left, celebrates his second-quarter touchdown catch with teammates Jack Camrud, 51, and Carson Henningsgard, right, during Saturday's 34-0 Class 1A semifinal win over Dickinson Trinity.Photo by Cory Erickson / Hillsboro Banner
Hillsboro-Central Valley, the current No. 1-ranked team in North Dakota Class 1A football, will be moving back up to Class 2A next season. Photo by Cory Erickson / Hillsboro Banner

VALLEY CITY, N.D. - The last loss suffered by Hillsboro-Central Valley was in the 2016 Class 2A state playoffs. The Burros were undefeated Class 1A state champions last season and are undefeated and ranked No. 1 in 1A this season.

Next season, Hillsboro-CV is heading back to Class 2A. The North Dakota High School Activities Association is expected to finalize proposed football assignments for the 2019 and 2020 seasons at its board of directors meeting Thursday.

"We'll be playing schools bigger than us,'' H-CV coach Scott Olsen said. "That will be a challenge. But I think we can compete with anybody.''

The big change, Hillsboro-Central Valley athletic director Dave Nelson said, is travel. Instead of its current schedule against teams in southeast North Dakota, the Burros could face road trips to Watford City, Stanley and Belcourt in 2A.

"Travel will definitely be more costly,'' Nelson said.


Devils Lake to remain in Class 2A

Fargo Shanley's decision to go big in football has had a direct impact on Devils Lake High School. Teams are classified according to an enrollment formula, with the 16 largest schools in Class 3A.

Devils Lake would have been the smallest school in Class 3A. But Shanley opted to move up from Class 2A to 3A, leaving Devils Lake as the largest school in Class 2A, the division in which it currently plays.

"Thank goodness Shanley opted to move up so we can stay,'' Devils Lake athletic director Jason Wiberg said. "We fit better in 2A with our numbers. We've been on the bubble, bouncing up and down between 2A and 3A. There are years we can be competitive in 3A. There also are years when we're not that competitive in 2A.''

In general, Wiberg said, the Firebirds have been less successful in 3A. The numbers game has worn down Devils Lake, he said, as the 3A teams generally have fewer players starting on both offense and defense than a smaller school like Devils Lake does.

"And over the years, our participation numbers seemed to decline when we were in 3A,'' Wiberg said. "Kids get sick of getting beat up. I'm not saying it isn't physical in 2A. But it's worse in 2A.''

Thompson, Hatton-Northwood to 1A

Also moving to Class 1A will be current 9-man teams Thompson and Hatton-Northwood. Thompson is undefeated and the top-ranked 9-man team in the state this season.


"If we can sustain the numbers we have now, we feel we can be competitive (in Class 1A),'' Thompson athletic director Jason Schwabe said. "If you have the participants, coaches will be able to make the adjustments going from 9- to 11-man.''

Drayton to add program

Ralston said the daily travel time playing with Grafton probably kept several students from playing this year. Ralston said he understands Grafton's decision.

"They weren't interested in remaining AA, so they decided to dissolve the co-op. And I absolutely can't blame them,'' Ralston said. "Grafton is about the same size as (Class A teams) Park River and Langdon. Competing with those schools is where they need to be.''

"We don't have the kids participating to go 11-man,'' Larimore athletic director Patti Aanenson said. "We'd be looking at potentially 14 kids next year. Eight would be freshmen. Our concern is the safety of our young kids.''

Grafton goes to 1A

Grafton is going from the smallest school in 2A to the largest in Class 1A.

The Spoilers are 7-25 in 2A since the start of the 2015 season.


"Based on our enrollment and the success we've had the last three to four seasons, it will be a good switch for us,'' Grafton superintendent Darren Albrecht said. "I feel we'll be more competitive.''

To get to Class 1A, Grafton dropped co-op agreements with St. Thomas and Drayton, schools that had a total of two players with the Spoilers this season.

"It wasn't easy to do,'' Albrecht said. "We had to look at the numbers. We had conversations with those schools. There are no ill feelings.''

With Grafton's decision, Drayton plans to field a 6-man team next season.

"There are kids who like to play football, but they want to have practices and games at Drayton,'' Drayton superintendent Dean Ralston said. "When we met with our kids who will be in grades 9-12 next year, 14 said they would be interested in playing 6-man.''

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