Football season has arrived

If it seems as though the football season starts earlier and earlier every year, this year you would be right. Because of stadium availability issues for the Prep Bowl, the 2015 high school football season starts two weeks earlier than normal.

The first day of official practices was Monday as teams around the state began preparing for their first games, which are scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 22.

By the time Labor Day rolls around, the first three weeks of the regular-season schedule will have been completed and some teams will have played half of their home games by the time school starts on Sept. 7.

All of this came about because of the two highest-level gridiron teams in the state. The Minnesota Vikings contributed to the early start when it got approval to build a new stadium to replace the Metrodome, which was the annual host of the Prep Bowl over Thanksgiving weekend.

Following the 2013 Vikings season, the Metrodome was closed and demolished while construction of the new stadium began right next door. With the Metrodome no longer available and the new venue scheduled to open in 2016, the Minnesota State High School League needed to find a temporary two-year home for the Prep Bowl.

The University of Minnesota's TCF Bank Stadium ended up the choice and thus enter the Golden Gophers in this year's saga. When the deal was struck to hold the Prep Bowl at "The Bank" for two years, the 2015 Big Ten football schedule was already set. That schedule included Minnesota hosting Wisconsin on Thanksgiving weekend and Illinois the week before that.

With those two weekends unavailable, the high school league elected to hold the Prep Bowl two weeks earlier than normal. That meant moving the Prep Bowl to Nov. 13 and 14.

Another change this season is the length of preseason camp. Normally, teams practice for three weeks prior to their first games but that would have meant starting fall camp on Aug. 3. The high school league, after consulting with the coaches association and health experts, decided to shorten fall camp to two weeks for this season.

Yet another difference with football scheduling this year has to do with the annual teacher's convention in mid-October. Normally, the final game of the regular season is on a Wednesday night and then schools are closed the next two days for the convention.

This year, the first round of playoffs for the non-Class 6A sections is the Tuesday of convention week and the second round is the Saturday that week. The Class 6A sections will hold their first-round games on Friday that week.

The 2015 Minnesota high school football season is also historic for yet another reason and this is one that will last past this year. This is the first season of "district scheduling." No longer are teams forced to find their own non-conference games if their conference schedule doesn't encompass all eight weeks of the regular season.

All of the prep football teams in the state are now assigned to a specific "district" and their schedules are comprised solely of teams from that district. For some schools, their schedules don't look that much different than last year but for others, they are facing teams they haven't played in a long, long time, if ever.

So with all that said, Minnesota's high school football season got rolling on Monday. The following is a quick look at what the Roseville Area High School and Concordia Academy football teams have on their schedules this fall.

Roseville Area High School

The switch to district scheduling hasn't altered the Raiders' football schedule all that much. Last year as a member of the Suburban East Conference, Roseville played seven conference foes and a non-conference game. This year's schedule also features seven contests against teams from Suburban East Conference schools and a game against a non-SEC team.

Now a member of the East Metro District, Roseville plays the seven other teams in the Blue sub-district and one team from the White sub-district. The White sub-district is made up of Apple Valley, Burnsville, Eagan, Eastview, Farmington, Lakeville North, Lakeville South and Rosemount.

The East Metro district has a third sub-district, the Red, with 10 teams. Those 10 teams don't play any teams from outside their sub-district.

The only Suburban East Conference team not in Roseville's sub-district is Park-Cottage Grove, which tried to gain admission to the Metro East Conference when it formed a year ago. Park's football team is in the Red sub-district, which includes the Wolfpack and the nine schools from the Metro East Conference.

All of the sub-district crossover games are scheduled for week one so Roseville opens the season at Burnsville on Aug. 22. Game time is scheduled for 7 p.m.

In addition to Burnsville, Roseville also plays road games at Woodbury, Forest Lake and White Bear Lake. The Raiders' home games this season are against Stillwater, Mounds View, Cretin-Derham Hall and East Ridge.

Homecoming for Roseville in 2015 is week six (Sept. 25) against Cretin-Derham Hall.

The Raiders are coming back off a 2014 season that saw them go 3-6. One-third of those losses came against Stillwater, which beat Roseville 20-0 in the season opener and 53-20 in the first round of the section playoffs. Roseville got its victories last year against Woodbury, Park-Cottage Grove and Forest Lake.

Concordia Academy

Of the eight teams that are a part of the Beacons' schedule this fall, only two were on their 2014 schedule. District scheduling has dramatically altered Concordia Academy's football schedule.

A member of the Tri-Metro Conference, Concordia Academy has only two conference foes on its schedule this season. That would be St. Agnes in week four and Columbia Heights in week six.

Starting this season, Concordia Academy is a member of the Red sub-district of the Twin City District. The other teams in the sub-district make up five weeks of the Beacons' schedule this fall while the other three opponents are in other Twin City sub-districts.

Concordia's sub-district mates are Breck, Columbia Heights, Minneapolis Henry, Mound Westonka and St. Paul Como Park. The Beacons also play Spectrum and St. Agnes from the Blue sub-district and St. Paul Johnson from the Gold sub-district. No team from the Maroon sub-district is on the Beacons' schedule this year.

Concordia Academy's homecoming game this season is week six (Sept. 25) against Columbia Heights.

The Beacons enter the 2015 season trying to improve on last year's 3-6 record. Concordia Academy picked up victories in 2014 against St. Paul Academy/Mounds Park Academy, St. Paul Humboldt and Brooklyn Center. It also lost to Brooklyn Center in the section playoffs.

Brian Meyers can be reached at††or 651-748-7819. Follow him on Twitter @BMeyersNews.

2015 Roseville Area High School football schedule

Aug. 22    at Burnsville        7 p.m.
Aug. 28    vs. Stillwater        7 p.m.
Sept. 3    at Woodbury        7 p.m.
Sept. 11    vs. Mounds View        7 p.m.
Sept. 18    at Forest Lake        7 p.m.
Sept. 25    vs. Cretin-Derham Hall        7 p.m.
Oct. 2    vs. East Ridge        7 p.m.
Oct. 9    at White Bear Lake        7 p.m.

2015 Concordia Academy football schedule

Aug. 22    at Spectrum    2 p.m.
Aug. 28    vs. Breck    7 p.m.
Sept. 4    vs. Minneapolis Henry    7 p.m.
Sept. 11    vs. St. Agnes    7 p.m.
Sept. 19    at St. Paul Como Park    2 p.m.
Sept. 25    vs. Columbia Heights    7 p.m.
Oct. 2    at Mound Westonka    7 p.m.
Oct. 8    at St. Paul Johnson    7 p.m.

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