High school football is divided into sections. The amount of resources available doesn’t affect what section they play in; it all comes down to the population of the school. South’s football team is placed in the 6A section, for schools with the most students, along with football powerhouses like Wayzata and Eden Prairie.
In the 6A section, there are only two other schools that are not suburbs. These schools are Brainerd High School and Cretin-Derham Hall.
Brainerd’s football coach Ron Stolski has been coaching at Brainerd for 38 years. He has around 110 players tryout for his teams. This is about 30 more players than South has in it’s football program. “I don’t think the top 32 schools should be based on enrollment. Situations have to be examined,” said Stolski.
“Nobody in our [city] conference is in 6A,” said South’s head football coach Lenny Sedlock. “Most coaches wouldn’t want to play Eden Prairie.” But being the underdog in the 6A doesn’t stop Sedlock and his team. They use it as motivation.
“I’m not discouraged about being there at all,” said Sedlock. “Instead of making excuses and trying to get out, we take on the challenge. A lot of teams wouldn’t do that.”
This summer, Sedlock petitioned to leave the City Conference and join the Lake Conference. The Lake Conference includes Eden Prairie, Edina, Hopkins, Wayzata and Minnetonka football teams.
“6A is basically the Lake Conference,” said Sedlock. “If we are going to be in this section, there is no reason we shouldn’t be in that conference. We should be playing those teams on a weekly basis.”
Senior captain Brandon Strong was shocked when he first heard of Sedlock’s plan to join the Lake Conference. But now he agrees with the idea of joining. “It gives us more of a challenge, and an opportunity to get better. It would boost our training,” said Strong.
“It would be long term plan,” said senior captain Connor Bass. “It would show us what we had to do to get farther in our section.” Bass finds that the team is more motivated to do better this season.
But not everyone agrees with Sedlock’s decision to move conferences. “You need to have a program with good numbers before you try and go bigger,” said Stolski. His team has beat Eden Prairie and Wayzata, two of the most successful teams in the state. They have made it to state three of the last five years.
Teams like Minnetonka and Wayzata are different than South in many ways. They have more resources, like equipment and facilities. “We have less guys, and more responsibilites,” said Bass. “But the passion for the sport is the same.”
No decision has been made about South joining the Lake Conference. Sedlock wishes that the deal would have been finished months ago. “The longer it gets extended, the less likely shot we have,” he said.
“When we talk about joining the Lake Conference, everyone thinks we are crazy,” said Sedlock. “It’s a really interesting story, we’re an inner city high school trying to compete with the best teams in Minnesota. Instead of trying to get out, we’re saying let’s move forward,” said Sedlock. “Our team is saying let’s take this challenge on.”
“We’ve built more of a team this year,” said Strong. And Sedlock agrees: “We feel really good about where we are going.”