Tuesday night the Brandon Valley school board voted 5-0 to play Class 11AAA, meaning Brandon Valley has decided to stay at the highest level of competition when it comes to high school football, starting in 2013.

A new system adopted this year by the South Dakota High School Activities Association divides the state’s top class into two tiers for postseason play, putting the largest eight schools in a separate level called Class 11AAA.

Most Eastern South Dakota Conference schools say they can no longer compete with Sioux Falls teams, which have accounted for the past eight state titles, the last six by public schools and two before that by O’Gorman.

The eight schools at the top level are Washington, Roosevelt, Rapid City Central, Lincoln, Rapid City Stevens, Aberdeen Central, Watertown, Brandon Valley and O’Gorman.

Brandon Valley’s decision makes sense since they will soon be competing in the Metro Conference with the Sioux Falls schools on a regular season bases.

Now that Brandon Valley has decided to stay at the highest level, Watertown would then have a chance to petition down to 11AA, and all indications are that the Arrows will jump at that opportunity as was presented by the Watertown school board Monday night.

The Watertown School Board Monday unanimously approved appealing to the SDHSAA to remain as a Class 11AA football even before the Brandon Valley vote Tuesday night.

The concerns began in the fall of 2011 when Aberdeen Central Activities Director Gene Brownell asked the activities association to consider splitting 11 Double A football into two classes, basing his argument on enrollment differences in the schools.

Watertown countered asking the five largest schools be considered Class 3 A schools and the rest, including Watertown, Double A.  The Watertown School District argued that, although it will be looking at becoming the 7th largest school in the state, it shouldn’t be classified as a 3 A school alongside schools in Sioux Falls and Rapid City. Watertown Head Football Coach Steve Swenson says lumping Watertown athletes in with Sioux Falls and Rapid City is unfair because the larger city athletes look a lot different physically in nature compared to Watertown.  He attributes that to the training advantages in the state’s two largest cities.

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