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MVC Officially Opts for District Football

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CEDAR RAPIDS It is done.

The Mississippi Valley Conference, the final soldier standing in the fight to maintain conference football, surrendered in a meeting Tuesday. Athletics directors and principals from the league have opted to go to the district format, effective the 2014 season.

Now, the ball is in the court of the Iowa High School Athletic Association, which will divide the teams into districts.

"It was somewhat inevitable," said Paul James, who serves as both AD and football coach at Cedar Rapids Washington, host of Tuesday's meeting. "Once the (Mississippi Athletic Conference) voted to go this direction (in December), there really was no alternative. It's sad to see the MVC go by the wayside (for football), but it's time to move on."

"Going into the meeting, we wanted to stay with conference football," said Linn-Mar Athletics Director Scott Mahmens. "But we knew we weren't going to change the MAC's mind, and we knew the state wasn't going to allow us to operate as a 12-team league on its own. So we were stuck.

"I guess you could say we were the last survivor."

A statement from the MVC was released Tuesday afternoon through Iowa City West Principal Jerry Arganbright:

"The principals of the Mississippi Valley Conference met Tuesday morning to discuss the issue of playing conference or district football for the upcoming 2014 season.

"After reviewing the various options available for conference members, the vast majority of principals voted to support playing district football for the 2014 season. The Mississippi Valley Conference has notified the IHSAA today of this decision and looks forward to working with their representatives to make this a smooth transition. Through this change the conference members also hope to retain the long term competitive football traditions among many of our high school communities."

Cedar Rapids Kennedy Athletics Director Aaron Stecker initially declined comment on the move to district football, then said:

"It's hard to see a great football league come to an end. When the MVC began as a 14-team league, the people in charge then were smart. They set up a league that wouldn't become stagnant. It's hard to see what they built be torn down.

"But change happens, and once we're settled, there are going to be some opportunities for great new rivalries to build."

The MVC will remain intact for all other sports. Of the league's 14 teams, two Cedar Rapids Xavier and Dubuque Wahlert will become Class 3A football schools. The other 12 will compete in Class 4A.

"This has just such been a long process," said Iowa City West Athletics Director Scott Kibby. "The emotional part of it has already passed for me. As things continued to play out, this just seemed more and more inevitable."

District football has been a staple outside of Class 4A since 1992.

In 2012, the west side of the state went that direction while the east (the MVC and the MAC) opted to keep their leagues. But the dominoes began to fall toward complete district football in October, when the MAC announced it wanted to re-open discussions about it.

Last month, Xavier, Wahlert and MAC member Davenport Assumption all chose to play in 3A, their enrollment class. The MAC shortly after announced it would go to district football, leaving the MVC virtually no choice.

"Just a lot of strange things we have questions about with this," Kibby said. "For instance, we all had set our homecoming dates for next season. Now we don't know if we'll have home games on those dates. What will happen with freshmen football? How will that change?

"There are just all kinds of things we don't know about. But we'll figure it out. We're smart people."

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