Brighter days may be ahead for Albert Lea football

Published 5:44 am Friday, November 8, 2013

The Albert Lea football team finished with a winless record this fall (0-9), but brighter days may be on the horizon.

Every two years, the Big Nine Conference has a meeting to plan football schedules, and progress was made to match schools with other like-sized schools, said Albert Lea athletic director Chris Chalmers.

The latest meeting was Sept. 18, and the Football Coaches Advisory Council decided to follow a scheduling format that matches conference teams against each other based on school enrollment.

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“We can’t play all the schools in the Big Nine (fewer games are played in a season than schools exist in the conference), so we’re looking at what’s the most fair way to make the schedule,” Chalmers said.

Since Northfield and Red Wing will join the conference next year, the Big Nine is pushed to 12 schools, and each team will play eight conference football games. The three schools with the largest enrollments will not play the three schools with the smallest enrollments.

That means Albert Lea, the 11th-largest school in terms of enrollment, will not play Rochester Mayo, Rochester John Marshall or Owatonna for the next two years.

Mankato East is the smallest school in the Big Nine with 777 students, a wide discrepancy from Rochester Mayo’s enrollment of 1,425.

The plan also calls for each school to play three crossover games, where the six largest schools will play the six smallest schools. For Albert Lea, crossover games can be played against Rochester Century, Austin and Faribault. Non-crossover games will be played against Northfield, Mankato West, Winona, Red Wing and Mankato East.


Big Nine Conference enrollment

1. Rochester Mayo 1425

2. Rochester John Marshall 1385

3. Owatonna 1324

4. Rochester Century 1245

5. Austin 971

6. Faribault 943

7. Northfield 1145

8. Mankato West 1036

9. Winona 925

10. Red Wing 778

11. Albert Lea 736

12. Mankato East 777