Predators to join football conference for 2020 season

STEVENS POINT, Wis. — The Northern Elite Predators will join a football-only conference for the 2020 season.

Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association Board of Control passed a statewide football-only conference realignment proposal Monday.

The Predators — a co-op with Niagara, Goodman and Pembine high schools — will join the MONLPC West with Oconto Falls, Northland Pines, Tomahawk, Crandon, Coleman, Crivitz and Menominee Indian.

Oconto Falls tops the league with an enrollment of 489 students. The Predators are fifth with 235.

Northern Elite played this past season in the MONLPC Small with Crivitz, Three Lakes/Phelps, Wabeno/Laona, Suring and Crandon.

For 2019, the MONLPC Small has been reduced to the Predators with Crandon, Coleman and Crivitz. They will also count a week 3 cross-over game with the MONLPC Large (Peshtigo) as a conference game in 2019.

Three Lakes/Phelps, Wabeno/Laona and Suring are going to eight-player football in 2019.

The Predators anticipate the first two weeks of the 2020 season to be open for non-conference games. Brillion, which visits Niagara in 2019, should be the Predators’ season-opening foe in 2020. A 2020 week 2 foe is unknown at this time, according to Niagara High School principal and athletic director Scott Trevillian.

“We currently have not found a week 2 opponent for 2019,” Trevillian said. “Most likely will be Wisconsin teams or a UP team if they are available.”

Another conference move has Menominee of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula joining the North Eastern Conference with Luxemburg-Casco, Marinette, Freedom, Little Chute, Wrightstown and Denmark.

The board unanimously approved its final consideration of the football-only conference proposal crafted by the Wisconsin Football Coaches Association.

The plan, which will be implemented in the 2020 season, gives uniformity to the number of schools affiliated with a conference and makes certain programs have enough conference games for playoff qualification.

“As I indicated when the board gave its initial support of the plan, this was an enormous undertaking and a groundbreaking venture for the WIAA,” Executive Director Dave Anderson said. ”This was a good-faith effort, and there was openness to alternative ideas, big-picture thinking and widespread acceptance of the final decision.

“It’s also important to convey that at any time there is 100 percent agreement of all impacted members, relief can be fast-tracked.”

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