(6-25-18) The possibility of the Illinois High School Association (IHSA) having district play in high school football is a topic of interest during this ‘off-season’. A recommendation of an IHSA ad-hoc committee said that district play would help to eliminate constant conference changes and scheduling issues in football.

The IHSA board could approve the plan without a membership vote, but instead they have decided to let this go thru the process and a future vote. The odds are that a vote this time around will bring the same results that took place in 2015 by a vote of 395-212.

A pre-set district format:

  • IHSA would oversee districts and scheduling
  • would end conference play
  • would not have to win five games to qualify, 6 to be guaranteed a playoff spot.
  • no movement up or down for class placement,  based on those schools that qualified
  • Public schools and private schools in combined districts
  • no Saturday selection TV show (which is popular with fans and advertisers)
  • extended road trips beyond the current conference borders

Districts (thoughts on NIC 10 and Big Northern Conference)

based on Steve Soucie projections

Don’t expect many NIC 10 members to be supporting of a new district system. Last year five of the ten NIC 10 schools qualified for the playoffs. A conference that does not play non-conference members during the regular season has a far better chance of getting a playoff bid ( 5 win qualifier and conference champion).

Based on the district projections, the ten NIC 10 members would be placed in three different districts in three different classes.

In 7A in District 1, four NIC 10 members would be included with Harlem and Hononegah and two RPS 205 schools Auburn and East…all four qualified for the playoffs last season. Two other members of the distinct, Jacobs and Cary-Grove also qualified.

In 6A in District 1, four NIC 10 members, including the remaining two RPS 205 schools Guilford and Jefferson, but of those four only Belvidere North qualified for the playoffs last season. This district would include football power and defending 6A State Champion Prairie Ridge and two other playoff teams from the Fox Valley Conference Crystal Lake Central and Huntley.

In 5A, the final two NIC 10 members are a part of this district, both Freeport and Boylan did not make the playoffs. Three schools in this district who did make the playoffs last season were Glenbard South, Woodstock Marian and Woodstock North.

NIC 10

CLASS 7A (68 total teams)

District 1 (8):
Round Lake

CLASS 6A (68 total teams)

District 1 (8):
*Belvidere North
Crystal Lake Central
Prairie Ridge
Crystal Lake South

CLASS 5A (67 total teams)

District 1 (8):
Aurora Central Catholic
Burlington Central
Glenbard South
Woodstock Marian
Woodstock North

The Big Northern Conference members will be spread out over five districts and four different classes.

In Class 4A District 2, it make-up of schools looks like the Classic Big Northern edition….only North Chicago has never been a part of the conference.

In 3A, Byron, Winnebago, Oregon and North Boone are all together, but a lot of travel with the other four members.

Rockford Christian, who would be in 2A, would pay the biggest price, they would be included with four Chicago schools. Last season the Crusaders qualified for the playoffs. The Crusaders will not be a part of the BNC football picture in the future, so the district plan will benefit their program.

Big Northern Conference

District 5 (8):

CLASS 4A (67 total teams)

District 1 (8):
North Chicago
*Rockford Lutheran
*Stillman Valley

District 2 (9):
Chicago Agricultural Science
Chicago Julian
Coal City
*Rock Falls

CLASS 3A (67 total teams)

District 1 (8):
Peru St. Bede
*North Boone
Spring Valley Hall

CLASS 2A (67 total teams)

District 1 (8):
Chicago Collins
Chicago Hope Academy
Chicago Marshall
Chicago Orr
River Grove Guerin
*Rockford Christian

Two NIB 12 schools who soon could be independents after this year would benefit the most from district play.

CLASS 7A (68 total teams)
District 4 (8):
Aurora Marmion
Elgin Larkin
St. Charles North
West Chicago

If the IHSA is really concerned about constant conference changes, allowing the membership to vote on this proposal will not solve the problem, it will never pass in this form, way to many concerns for a large number of member schools. If the IHSA Board is really serious about change to help the future of district play and solving the conference dilemma they would have to enforce this plan without a membership vote.  Part of the plan could include a time frame for members to evaluate its future to see if it works and make needed changes in necessary.

Since football is said to be the biggest factor in constant conference changes, one solution that could easily solve the problem (without enforcing district play) would be for the IHSA to place independent member schools in an area conference for football only.  Each placement would take place (for a 2-5 year period) with the IHSA having the final say, with initial input coming from the school and the conference.