TRAVERSE CITY — Will it be the Twin Bays League? Or, perhaps, the Northwest Football League, NFL for short?
That’s one of the details that still needs to be hammered out after school officials from the Lake Michigan and Northwest conferences agreed to merge in football, starting next fall.
The league will be split into two seven-team divisions, based on enrollment and strength of program.
Superintendents from all 14 schools reached a merger decision on Wednesday. Some details, like the league name, still need to be ironed out.
“The nuts and bolts are in place,” said Dave Jackson, secretary-treasurer of the Northwest Conference said. “We can move forward with it.”
One division will include Boyne City, Grayling, Elk Rapids, St. Francis, Glen Lake, Kingsley and Benzie Central. The other division will consist of Harbor Springs, East Jordan, Charlevoix, Suttons Bay, Kalkaska, Mesick and Frankfort.
St. Francis officials welcomed the news. The Gladiators were ousted from the Lake Michigan Conference two years ago after dominating it in football for several years.
“Feels great,” athletic director Tom Hardy said. “I’m really excited for our kids. They’ll now have a chance to play for a league title, just like kids in every other sport.”
Each school will play the other six in the division, plus a mandated crossover game with a school in the other division. The remaining two dates will be filled by playing schools outside the league or in the other division.
Boyne City, for example, will use its crossover game and two non-league openings to continue rivalries with Charlevoix, East Jordan and Harbor Springs.
St. Francis will play Kalkaska in its crossover.
The league designated weeks one and two for non-league contests. There were a couple concessions, however, that will enable schools like Frankfort and Mesick to maintain non-league rivalries in week nine.