Bulldogs grouped with Jefferson City Helias, Camdenton and Union in Missouri Class 3 District 9.
Two years ago the Rolla High School boys’ soccer team moved down a classification, only to see the strength of its schedule increase.
On Friday, the Bulldogs moved up a class and, according to head coach Mike Howard, has again seen an increase in the caliber of its district.
The Missouri State High School Activities Association (MSHSAA) released its new four-classification district pairings on Friday morning. And Howard got a four-team pairing he was hoping to avoid.
Rolla was moved from Class 2 to Class 3 and has been paired with Jefferson City Helias, Camdenton and Union in Missouri Class 3 District 9. The location of the district tournament has yet to be determined.
Two years ago Rolla moved down from Class 3 to Class 2, but saw the strength of its district increase when matched with state-power Helias. And this fall a fourth classification has been added, making Class 4 (for the largest schools enrollment-wise), Class 3, Class 2 and Class 1.
Helias was one of Rolla’s Class 2 district rivals the past two years, with the Bulldogs winning the Class 2 District 10 Tournament on their way to the quarterfinals two years ago and Helias capturing the district crown in 2013.
Camdenton is a Ozark Conference rival of Rolla. Union is a member of the Four Rivers Conference. Rolla, Helias, Camdenton and Union have all had strong programs in recent years.
“For us I think it went from bad to worse,” Howard said. “It’s a tough district. You’re going to have to play two really tough teams to get out (of district). The good thing is if you do get out, you’ve got a chance to go a ways.”
Howard wasn’t in favor of an additional classification when it was first proposed. However, he’s willing try it and see what happens.
“I think it will make it easy for some teams and more difficult for some others,” he said. “I think the last two years it was as good as it has ever been before, even though it was probably harder for us than it was before.
“We’ll see (with four classes).”
On Thursday Howard watched his Bulldogs perform a dress rehearsal for the upcoming season in the Washington Soccer Jamboree.
Rolla, Washington and Waynesville competed in the jamboree Thursday. Each team faced the other two in a scrimmage-type jamboree session.
And the Bulldogs came away with a pair of ties, tying Waynesville 1-1 and tying Washington 0-0.
Rolla’s lone goal came from junior Thomas MacCash on an assist by senior Rico Veiero, a foreign exchange student from Brazil.
The Bulldogs are replacing nearly its entire starting lineup due to graduation losses.
“It’s what I expected,” Howard said. “I thought we would be a solid defensive group and really struggle to score goals. We are going to have to win several 1-0 games.
“We’re about where I expect us to be. We probably have 13 or 14 kids fighting for starting positions. It’s wide-open and all of them are pretty equal. That should help us in the long run.”
The Bulldogs are scheduled to open their season on Aug. 26 in Columbia against Rock Bridge (5 p.m. junior varsity game, varsity to follow).