MAC schools move to district play
December 21, 2013By Brian Rathjen of North Scott Senior High School
The Quad City Times reported this past week that the Mississippi Athletic Conference has agreed to district play, thereby ending 27 years of MAC football on Friday nights.
Starting in 2014, teams will be split up into districts on the east side of the state. This likely will include the Mississippi Valley Conference, which is trying to keep traditional conference football alive.
The MAC conference's statement, issued by Pleasant Valley activities director D'Anne Kroemer, stated that in light of three Class 4A teams – Davenport Assumption, Dubuque Wahlert and Cedar Rapids Xavier – deciding to drop to Class 3A, district football was "inevitable."
"Realizing not all conference schools agree, it is the position of the Mississippi Athletic Conference to move forward with the district football concept," the release stated.
The Cedar Rapids Gazette reported that a Jan. 7 meeting was scheduled with MVC administrators to try to salvage traditional conference football. The league has 12 Class 4A schools remaining, whereas the MAC has nine. However, the Quad City Times effectively stated that it is unlikely and that the MVC will have no other alternative but to move to district play.
This means that for the first time since 1987, there will be interleague play, with teams from both conferences playing each other during the regular season. The MAC, with its 10 teams, had always played a full round-robin schedule while the Mississippi Valley – with 14 teams, split into two seven-team divisions – had divisional games plus three cross-divisional games.
For what it's worth, North Scott and Clinton were the last two teams to play non-conference opponents during the regular season; the Lancers played Dubuque Senior in a Week 9 game in 1987, while the River Kings played Central DeWitt in 2006 and 2007 (as a Week 0 game, to help DeWitt fill a scheduling gap). Each time, the opponent won.
Incientally, while some Class 3A coaches, including Cedar Rapids- and Iowa City-area WaMaC schools that would probably be playing at least Xavier, said they would try to accept the change and admitted all they could do was try to get better, at least one administrator – Benton Community superintendent Gary Zittergruen – was vocal on his opposition to the move. At a Benton Community School Board meeting last week, he stated he was considering contacting his colleagues in the WaMaC conference who are 3A schools and “taking a little bit of a stance” regarding Xavier, Assumption and Wahlert moving down from 4A to 3A football.
“I just think it’s absolutely ridiculous,” said Zittergruen, whose comments were published in the Belle Plaine Star Press Union and at yourweeklypaper.com. “I think maybe we’ve reached the state in time in Iowa that a multiplier needs to be looked at.”
He went on to state that the situation applies to more than just football, and said the state tournament is beginning to be dominated by non-public schools, in both championships and participation. “We have a lot of public schools that I would think are not going to continue to accept the fact that that’s just the way it is,” he stated.