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Park, Woodbury and East Ridge all included in East Metro football district

The Minnesota State High School League’s new football district plan will do away with the conference format when it is put into place for the 2015 season.

But after the districts were all announced on June 2, it’s not outlandish to think all of the current Suburban East schools could continue see one another on the schedule every year moving forward.

That’s because all nine Suburban East schools were placed in the East Metro district, along with eight schools from the current South Suburban Conference and all nine of the Metro East Conference’s current schools.

That’s 26 teams in the new district.

“Initially, [I thought] why are there a ton of teams?,” Woodbury coach Andrew Hill joked.

That’s because members from schools in the newly-founded districts will now get together to break each district up into sub-districts. Those meetings will have to be held sometime in the near future, as the high school league wants 2015 and 2016 schedules to be completed by Nov. 1.

And it seems likely that the sub-districts could closely mirror the current three conferences that will make up the new district.

“My initial reaction is they’ll probably try to stick with the conferences that we have,” Hill said, adding that he has no concrete information on what will be decided. “I think that’s the easiest way to get it done.”

Still, that’s not necessarily what Hill wants. While he’s happy with the Suburban East and the schools and coaches his squad annually competes against, he said it’s a touch “anti-climactic” when the regular season wraps up and teams move into sectional play against their same conference opponents.

“Why not try to mix it up a little bit?,” said Hill, who coached in a district-style system while coaching in Virginia.

East Ridge coach Mike Pendino said he preferred the conference system.

“I like having a conference, because it means more to the kids, it means more to everybody to play those teams,” Pendino said.

That’s why when the new sub-districts come out, Pendino hopes the Raptors will still play cross-town rivals Park and Woodbury, as well as current Suburban East foe Cretin-Derham Hall.

“After that, whoever they want us to play, we’ll play,” he said.

One of the teams on Hill’s wish list for future schedules is a team not currently in the Suburban East. Hill said Tartan and Woodbury had a big rivalry in the late 90s and early 2000s. And with the two schools in such a close proximity, he would like to see the rivalry renewed.

“I would love to see us play against Tartan again,” Hill said. “It would be cool to see that revived.”

The district system, which features 18 districts across the state, was created to help teams establish eight-game schedules without having to travel long distances or even play out-of-state teams, the league’s release said.

That wasn’t an issue with Park, Woodbury or East Ridge, though. Even this season, when all three schools scheduled non-conference games after Hastings left the Suburban East for the Metro East, all three schools were able to schedule games with teams in relatively-close proximities -- East Ridge will play Mahtomedi, Woodbury will play St. Thomas Academy and Park will play former-Suburban East foe Hastings.

Still, the district system won’t be put into play until 2015, meaning it has no effect on the 2014 season. Thus, it’s not currently a big concern of Pendino’s.

“I haven’t thought that far in advance,” Pendino said. “I’m just worrying about now, trying to figure out how we’re going to win a game this season.”