This Friday, the All-Nations Football Conference will kick-off its season. The All-Nations Football Conference, which was founded in 2019, is a high school football league made up of native schools in South Dakota and surrounding areas. Their second season was originally scheduled to be played this past fall, but COVID forced those in charge to postpone play until spring.
In 2019, the league had twelve teams, but for this spring, because of covid protocols and other activities, only seven teams will compete. Cheyenne-Eagle Butte, Lower Brule, Marty, McLaughlin, Omaha Nation, Tiospa Zina, and Winnebago are all on the schedule to start play this coming Friday.
“It’s really exciting. I know in Lower Brule we’re seeing more activity in the weight room than we’ve seen in the past,” said Lower Brule superintendent Lance Witte. “The kids are enthused about it.”
Because it’s not a traditional year, and because there are less teams than normal, the season won’t be quite as long as it typically would be.
“We’ll have a six week schedule. Each team will play five games, with the exception of Tiospa Zina,” explained Lower Brule superintendent Lance Witte. “Given the odd number of teams and time frame, [Tiospa Zina] will actually end up with six games this spring, and we’ll just base it on win percentage as far as selecting the top four teams for the playoffs.”
The regular season will start on Friday April 9th and conclude on Friday May 14th. Four teams will qualify for the playoffs, which is scheduled for Friday May 21st, and then the championship game is slated to take place on Thursday May 27th – the day before the South Dakota high school state track and field championships start.
The All-Nations Football Conference is also planning to have a season in the fall of 2021. With the way it currently sits, 18 teams will participate in the upcoming fall season, and they'll be separated into two classes.
“I just think it’s a really good thing for kids, and at the end of the day, that’s what the decisions are based around,” Witte stated. “I don’t know what the participation numbers will be next fall, but I’m expecting you’ll see a growth yet.”
In the fall of 2019, Crow Creek and Lower Brule met in the inaugural All Nations Football Conference championship game. The game was played at the Dakota Dome in Vermillion and Crow Creek was victorious. While there was no champion crowned in 2020, 2021 will see a champion crowned in the spring and two champions crowned in the fall for the league.