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Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette
Concordia, the only 3A football program in the SAC, plays Class 5A schools Snider, Northrop, South Side, North Side and Wayne and two Catholic powers in Bishop Dwenger (4A) and Bishop Luers (2A).

Cadets looking for change

Overwhelmed in SAC, Concordia seeks alternative

– For now, Concordia remains in the SAC. But it’s not without trying by athletic director Dean Doerffler.

“Not a good response,” Doerffler said of other schools interested in forming another conference. “They don’t want to take the plunge into it. We have talked about it with some schools. Some schools are willing and some don’t want to.”

It’s not a new initiative. Doerffler has been behind the idea of conference realignment for years, one that would separate Concordia from playing football against five Class 5A schools – Snider, Northrop, South Side, North Side and Wayne – and two Catholic school powerhouses in Bishop Dwenger (4A) and Bishop Luers (2A). The Cadets are the only 3A program in the league.

“We are the odd man out in the SAC,” Doerffler said. “Sometimes we get looked at as a recruiter because we are private.”

The school’s enrollment, though, has been dwindling in recent years.

There were more meetings this year about conference realignment, but no movement.

“It’s not a dead issue,” Doerffler said. “We are still talking.”

Doerffler said he believes if he can get a few more schools fully on board with the idea, there will be a domino effect of teams switching conferences.

“If they will make a commitment, it will get the ball rolling,” Doerffler said.

A couple of years back Southern Wells went independent in football because of declining enrollment figures in feeder schools. Doerffler doesn’t see that as an option for Concordia, even just in football.

“Talked about being independent in football, but we can’t do it,” Doerffler said. “It’s too much traveling, and it would be a nightmare scheduling. I see Indy schools (Cathedral and Chatard) do this. It’s hard to find teams.”

So, Concordia remains in the SAC.

“It is hard for us,” Concordia football coach Tim Mannigel said. “For us, it is tough to play five 5A schools and then the other two are Dwenger and Luers. Having said that, the competition always prepares us very well for the playoffs. There’s definitely a positive, if you can make it through that competition and keep your kids understanding that the competition you are playing are among the Indiana elite. They hear feedback in the school that they aren’t very good, but we are playing some very good teams.

“It is difficult, but it is what it is so we play the schedule we play.”

And the players don’t seem to care.

“To be a part of (the SAC), we get to go out there against the big schools and just show we are a big school, too,” senior running back Michael Hicks said.