East, West football teams to remain in FRCC
By William Soquet
The Green Bay East and Green Bay West football teams will remain part of the Fox River Classic Conference (FRCC) for the foreseeable future.
On March 7, the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA) approved its football-only conference realignment plan that will come into effect for the 2024 football season.
While eight conferences were designated for further review, the FRCC was not one of them.
While West had previously filed a formal request with the WIAA in an attempt to move to the Bay Conference, that request ultimately went unfulfilled.
East athletic director Steph Mathu had similar goals for her school.
“The best-case scenario we felt would have been for us to be in the Bay Conference like we are for all of our other sports,” Mathu said via email.
The Wildcats are also members of the Bay Conference for all other sports besides football.
West coach Drew Brusoe said that while the request to join the Bay was denied, the status quo was not the worst option on the table.
“One of them had us being with Kaukauna and Notre Dame, a lot of the elite mid-tier schools in enrollment in the state, we would be thrown in a conference on top of that,” he said. “That would probably be the worst-case scenario for us, because we’re trying to build a program pretty much from
the bottom up.”
“If we were to get thrown into a conference [like that], for us to have any kind of long-term success … getting placed in a conference like that would make being competitive on any given Friday night very difficult. Thankfully, that plan was not passed.”
When looking at the WIAA’s vision, Brusoe’s all right with where West is at.
“When the [plan] that did get passed came up where the crossover games was void and we would add Oshkosh North into the FRCC South, realistically, what the WIAA wants to do with uniformity with conference sizes and conference games, I wouldn’t say it’s the ideal scenario but it’s the most realistic scenario that fell our way,” he noted.
While the conference alignment will not change at all, the WIAA dropped the mandatory conference crossover games for the FRCC, as both the North and South divisions will be able to fulfill the seven-game conference minimum.
This would eliminate any guaranteed contests for either East or West to face city rivals Southwest and Preble, which are in the FRCC North.
Mathu is open to the possibility of playing crosstown games if the fit is right, and has made it work in other sports.
“We are not currently with Southwest or Preble in the Bay Conference [in other sports], as they are in the FRCC,” she said. “We will work to try to get nonconference games with them in weeks one or two if we feel that will be a competitive matchup. We do schedule nonconference games with Preble and Southwest in other sports when we are able.”
West, for the time being, is looking elsewhere for its early-season contests.
“A lot of these kids grow up with each other, they play whatever football league it is together,” Brusoe said. “Getting to the high school level, I think the kids are a little bummed out with not having that … it’s a two-sided deal where it’s a bummer not to face the local Green Bay schools but in the same breath, having the potential where you can grow your numbers a little more without facing some of those powerhouse programs.”
“Our schedule is set for this coming year already, but for us, I think it is good to branch out a little bit. We maybe see some different parts of the state, these kids can see some things outside the Fox Valley. We’ve reached out to some schools within maybe a 50- to 75-mile radius of where we’re at and playing some teams that are maybe competitive for us but have lower enrollment.”
In 2022, West played at Sturgeon Bay and Manawa in its nonconference matchups. East played against Marinette at home and at Kingsford, Michigan.
As for the storied East-West rivalry football game, both Brusoe and Mathu envision it continuing in the future.
The game has been a bright spot for both programs in recent years, with the past three editions of the game all decided by three points or less.
The Red Devils won the 2022 edition, 8-6, for their 64 th win in 118 games.
“Except for a couple proposals we saw floating out there, East and West are going to be paired together,” Brusoe noted. “From the history, those two are going to get attached at the hip, so where one school is placed, the other more than likely will as well.”
“I was definitely in favor of keeping West and East in the same division because of our unique long-standing rivalry in football,” said Mathu.