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ESD football conference adds Rapid City teams
By By Jill Meier
Challenger editor

March 13. 2014 6:00AM
The Eastern South Dakota Conference is expanding by two schools beginning in the 2015 season. But for now, the expansion is coming in football only, according to Brandon Valley athletic director Randy Marso.

“We’re not ready to do this in other sports.” Marso said.

On Feb. 24, athletic directors and superintendents from the current nine ESD schools met in Mitchell to discuss the possibility of extending an invitation to the Rapid City public high schools – Rapid City Central and Rapid City Stevens – to join the ESD Conference in football only.

All of the current nine ESD schools voted unanimously to extend the football-only invitation, which Rapid City school officials have verbally accepted.

Currently, the Rapid City schools have no conference membership.

“They don’t have anything to play for with only two (large) schools, so it was a pretty easy decision to make when you look at the fact they do not have a conference to play in,” Marso said.

By expanding the ESD Conference to 11 teams, this allows for an 11AAA division within the ESD football conference and an 11AA division, mirroring the divisions within the South Dakota High School Activities Association’s playoff format.

The expansion results in an 11-team football conference, which will be comprised of one six-team division and one five-team division.

Brandon Valley will play in the 11AAA, five-team division that includes Aberdeen Central, Watertown, Rapid City Central, Rapid City Stevens and Brandon Valley.

“Yes, we will have to travel to Rapid City every year and play one of those teams,” Marso said. But reducing the number of ESD teams the Lynx will play lessens travel to Yankton and Pierre, for example.

Mitchell activities director Geoffrey Gross said that while football scheduling is a complicated endeavor, “It is the intent of the ESD Conference (schools) to be hospitable to the other non-member teams in the state while still looking out for the interests of its member schools.”

The Lynx will also continue to compete in the Metro Conference, which includes all four high schools in Sioux Falls: Washington, Lincoln, Roosevelt and O’Gorman.

“Sioux Falls has told us this will give us a chance to play in some of those big games, like the Dakota Bowl,” Marso said.

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