Bishop Ryan reaction to North Dakota Football Co-ops Series

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MINOT, N.D. - We have received some reaction to our low football rosters story that aired this week. Bishop Ryan Coach Roger Coleman says a solution could lie in a newly-introduced class system. He added that small teams that resort to independent schedules deserve to compete in a play-off system like the classes that are currently in place.

"If you have 15 kids coming out but you're forced to play in Double A, that's not a safe or fair situation for those kids," Coleman said. "I'd like to see them be sanctioned too, in a class they belong in, whether that's 9-man or A-ball or wherever that that ends up."

A way to introduce a new structure could be to add more criteria dealing with on-the-field performance and participation numbers.

"I'd like to see the state take a look and maybe put in some other factors as far as how many kids are coming out for those programs, how has their win-loss been the last few years?" Coleman added. "Instead of just saying they have this many kids they should be in this class, I think for safety as well (which is a big subject, especially with football nowadays) is to take into account how many kids are playing and also your win-loss."

The Lions saw an 11-player team this fall when they defeated New Town.

"They deserve to be able to compete in high school athletics as sponsored activity," Coleman said. "I think 9-man would be a good spot for them, and obviously it's really hard to compete and they saw that all year. So I just don't think it's fair to the kids or safe for those kids to be playing at that level when there's a level that's probably more fair and safer for them to be at."

NDHSAA Executive Director Matt Fetsch said in Tuesday's story that he is confident with medical research and rule changes that the sport is as safe as it's ever been. He responded to Coleman's reaction with this statement:

"The NDHSAA Football Committee has reviewed several factors other than male enrollment, including the application of free and reduced lunch ratios to all schools, something that has been used in the last two football plans. Options for teams to petition to move down a division have also been strongly considered, but survey data from member schools has indicated overwhelming opposition to such an option."

The current two-year plan for alignment is set to expire at the end of this school year. If you missed our series that aired this week, you can find it under Videos on the KMOT Facebook page from our Monday and Tuesday sportscasts.