The Wisconsin Football Coaches Association (WFCA) and the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA) released a revised football-only conference alignment proposal for the 2020 season, including a move that should be good for the Northland Pines Eagles football team.

The WFCA and WIAA released the first consideration of a football-only conference plan for membership review back in July of 2018. Input from member schools, an updated list of co-op programs, and the transition of programs from 11-player to 8-player status, including Three Lakes, warranted the revision.

The Northland Pines football team most recently played in the Western Peninsula Athletic Conference in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan until the 2018 season, when the Eagles played as an independent. The Eagles also will play as an independent in football only in 2019.

The objectives of the new plan are to bring uniformity to the number of schools affiliated with a conference and to the number of conference games played by each program, as well as to develop a process for a school to request relief from its conference affiliation.

Under the plan, Northland Pines would move to the Marinette Oconto Northern Lakes Packerland Conference (MONLPC)-small for football only. It would include seven teams, with Northland Pines (389 students), Tomahawk (377), Bonduel (309), Crandon (247), Niagara-Goodman-Pembine (235), Coleman (214) and Crivitz (202). The MONLPC-large also would have seven schools, including Oconto Falls (489), Sturgeon Bay (394), Peshtigo (363), Kewaunee (323), Southern Door (313), Oconto (274) and Mishicot (234).

The design of the plan was to place all 11-player football programs into uniform conferences of eight teams, but with some seven-team leagues (along with nine-team conferences depending on total number of schools offering football). The objective of placing programs into conferences is to keep as many conferences together as possible while reaching the stated goals of the proposal. 

Conferences that feature seven teams will be provided a designated companion conference that will require bye week crossovers in Weeks 3-9, which will count in the conference standings for both teams. As a result, all teams in the state will play seven conference games between Week 3 and Week 9. Weeks 1 and 2 will be open dates for schools to schedule nonconference contests.

Looking at the proposal, the new MONLPC football-only conference should be a good fit for Northland Pines, but maybe they should rename the conference.