Shanley football has decided to opt up to Class 3A for 2019 season
FARGO--Fargo Shanley is headed back to North Dakota Class 3A football. The Deacons have decided to opt up from Class 2A for the 2019 season, which marks the start of the North Dakota High School Activities two-year football plan that won't be fin...
FARGO-Fargo Shanley is headed back to North Dakota Class 3A football.
The Deacons have decided to opt up from Class 2A for the 2019 season, which marks the start of the North Dakota High School Activities two-year football plan that won't be finalized until next fall. A preliminary list of divisions was released earlier this week.
"Moving forward, we want the challenge to be a better football program," said Shanley head coach Troy Mattern, who completed his first season as Deacons head coach last fall.
The Deacons have played in Class 2A since 2009, posting an 89-16 record over those nine seasons. Shanley won three state championships during that span and advanced to at least the state semifinals each season.
"I'm excited to see how mentally tough our kids are when we challenge them to that level," Mattern said.
Shanley athletic director Michael Breker said part of the reason for the move was to have the natural in-town rivalries for football that the school has in other sports. The Deacons are currently in the Eastern Dakota Conference in other sports besides football.
"We want to be playing at that highest level we can play at and also be competitive," Breker said. "I'm sure there are going to be growing pains. ... We've had a really strong culture in our football program the last couple seasons and this just builds on that."
The Deacons last played in the Class 3A in 2008, making the EDC play-in game that season. The numbers in the football program have grown in the past couple seasons and Mattern expects around 80 players in Grades 9-12 to be out for the team next fall.
"We're not going to have as many kids as some as the other programs, but we think we have the right kids to compete," Mattern said.
Mattern said the Class 3A football landscape has also changed since Shanley last played in the division with extra high schools being added in Fargo, West Fargo and Bismarck since 2008.
Mattern was that head coach at Fargo South prior to taking the job at Shanley and thinks that experience will help in the Deacons making the move back to Class 3A. The opt up to Class 3A is for a two-year plan so it wouldn't have to be a long-term change if Shanley decided it wanted to return to Class 2A.
Mattern said creating depth and getting bigger and stronger on the offensive and defensive lines are other areas the team needs to improve to get ready for Class 3A.
"We're really going to have to challenge our kids up front," Mattern said. "We are going to have to get bigger and stronger up front. ... We have to get bigger faster and stronger as a program so when we step into (Class 3A), we are prepared Day 1."
NDHSAA assistant director Justin Fletschock said the football plan for the 2019 and 2020 seasons is slated to be finalized next September.