DES MOINES — Since 2009, Des Moines high school football teams are a combined 0 and 112 against schools in the Des Moines suburbs. That’s just one of the many examples as to why in mid June, the DMPS board moved forward with a resolution that calls upon the IHSAA and the IGHSAU to re-evaluate how schools are classified in athletics.
They say it should not just be based on student body size, but also taking socioeconomics into account. Using the free and reduced price lunch program to evaluate the socioeconomic profile.
DMPS has an average enrollment at 77 percent, well above the state average. They say underprivileged districts are at a disadvantage for multiple reasons.
But one metro football coach says not so fast.
On the practice field outside of Roosevelt High School, Mitch Moore is getting his team ready for the season that is just over a month away.
“A lot of workouts, waking up early, but we’ve been putting in a lot of hard work and grinding.”
It’s Moore’s first year as the head coach at Roosevelt. A school that takes pride in it’s diversity.
“Kids have great perspective, we’ve got an affluent group of people, we’ve got where our socioeconomics are lower than some people around the state. We have a strong middle class, we’ve got a little bit of everything. We’ve got people from all over the world.”
It’s bound these players together.
“I look at these guys like they’re my brothers and I can feel the same way with them we just all brothers and it’s just simple as that,” says one player.
But wins for the Roughriders have been hard to come by. In the last five years, they’ve gone 14 and 31. Not a single win against a school from a Des Moines suburb.
They’re not alone. The five high schools that make up Des Moines Public Schools are a collective 0-112 against schools in the suburbs on the football field.
So the Des Moines Public School Board wants socioeconomics taken into account when classifying schools for athletics.
Moore says he’s against that. “To me, the socioeconomics has nothing to do with athletic ability and that’s my stance on it. Our competitive unbalance is glaring and so we all recognize that but that doesn’t have to do with what their parents make or what house they come from.”
Moore is trying to instill that into his players as well, because he sees the potential he’s inherited. “There’s coaches all across this state that will come watch this team practice and play, that’ll say there’s not a lack of athletic ability there, might be a lack of athletic facilities, there might be a lack of consistency or structure within our coaches but there’s not a lack of athletic ability, so that’s on me and our staff and our administration to help change that.”
It also means changing the mentality of his team. Showing them that they can compete with anyone. “Coming off of a 3-6 season, we don’t want that anymore. We want to go above and beyond on that and leave a legacy on this team and this school.”
“Coach Moore always says we want to win a state championship not in a couple of years, we want to win it now and that sets a great example for us and great expectations,” says one player.
The expectation that regardless of where they’re from or how much money they have, that with work, Roosevelt will be able to end that losing streak to their suburb foes.
“0-112 that’s certainly a gap that we want to be the guy that bucks the trend on that and I think that all starts with hard work and I think that’s something we’ve really done since we’ve been here in January,” says Moore.
Now just for reference, of the five metro high schools, Roosevelt does have the lowest percentage of students enrolled in free or reduced price lunch, sitting at 53 percent. The state average is in the upper 30’s.
North has the highest percentage at 88.6 percent. This is something Local 5 will keep an eye on as the process continues.