Football realignment

IRON MOUNTAIN – Norway leaving the Mid-Peninsula Conference for the Great Western?

West Iron County meeting Forest Park in conference crossover football game?

Those possibiities loom with some U.P. and northern Wisconsin athletic directors knocking around conference realignment, according to a story in The Daily Globe of Ironwood.

The emergance of eight-man football, due to reduced enrollment, has dropped the number of 11-man programs. Those surviving 11-man schools hope realignment will produce enough games.

“So many teams are going to 8-man football teams that the 11-man teams in our area are trying to band together,” Ironwood athletic director Gordy Erickson said. “This would be really good for all of us, because we would have a steady diet of 11-man teams to play.”

One conference realignment proposal, based on comparable enrollment, follows:

GREAT WESTERN – Norway, Forest Park, Hurley, Ironwood, Gogebic, Lake Linden.

WEST PAC – West Iron County, L’Anse, Calumet, Houghton, Hancock, Northland Pines (Eagle River, Wis.).

MID-PENINSULA – Iron Mountain, Westwood, Negaunee, Ishpeming, Gwinn, Manistique.

This proposal calls for five games within the conference plus crossover games with the other conferences. That may be a stumbling block, with the daunting task of tiny Lake Linden going up against a larger West Iron County.

West Iron County athletic director and football coach Mike Berutti told The Daily Globe that some schools are wary of the powerhouse football programs at two-time state champion Ishpeming and Negaunee.

Another proposal calls for just the Great Western and West PAC working together. Norway athletic director Dwight Castelaz confirmed he is aware of the proposals including another one with the Mid-Eastern Conference where North Dickinson and North Central.

“There’s still a lot of questions on this and more meetings are needed,” Berutti said. “We have a lot of work still ahead of us.”

Both Erickson and Berutti, according to The Daily Globe, believe conference realignment “will fly” in one form or another.

“We can’t allow this to fizzle,” Berutti said. “We may adjust and tweak it, but we have to make a decision by July of this year if we want to be ready for the 2015 football season.”