(12-19-18) Yesterday’s IHSA vote on the passing of district play for football brought reactions from school administrators and football coaches.
In a very close vote, 17 votes making the difference, both sides of the issue commented around the state.
Eight of the NIC-10 schools ( except for Belvidere North and Hononegah) voted for the proposal.
Belvidere Athletic Director Tim Ballard
“It will help us play like-sized schools. Playing 6A and 7A sized schools consistently isn’t easy for us. We have football numbers in the 40s and 50s, and consistently are playing schools that bring out teams in the 60s and 70s.”
North Boone coach Aaron Sullivan
“I do like the idea of playing 3A schools to get into the 3A playoffs, but I’m not sure I want to travel three hours to do that. That’s going to kill the atmosphere of the games.”
Dixon principal Michael Grady (voted no)
“Dixon High School has been extremely happy with our move to the Big Northern Conference. We believe that the Big Northern offers our students quality competition in all extra-curricular activities, including football. The proximity of the conference schools is another benefit for both our students and fans, as it minimizes the time our student athletes are away from home while allowing our fans to attend contests.”
Oregon Athletic Director Mike Lawton
“We feel the proposal is in the best interest of our school and program, given our current enrollment.”
Fenwick Head Coach Gene Nudo
“This just gets put in your lap. I have no idea who will be in our district. I came here to be part of the Chicago Catholic League and I’ve grown fond of the competition we have. I guess we will get more of a sense of the rest of the area now.”
“These important votes should never be a simple majority,” Nudo said. “It needs to be 66 percent or something. It is a 17-vote difference and I don’t know if everyone put the same thought process into it.”
Phillips Head Coach Troy McAllister
“How does that work when a suburban team comes into Gately at 4:15 on a Thursday or Friday. That is going to be difficult.”
“In CPS scheduling has not a problem. We have our Week 1 and 2 open but those are typically easier games to find. I understand it has been super difficult for suburban teams to find games because everyone is jumping around and changing conferences trying to get those five wins to qualify for the playoffs.”
Wheaton Warrenville South Coach Ron Muhitch
“My recommendation is to send it back to Florida for a recount.”
Glenbard West coach Chad Hetlet
“The biggest thing for me is they’re tearing down decades and decades of tradition in many of the conferences like ours. There are rivalries that began when the sport began, and that’s going to come to an end.”
West Aurora coach Nate Eimer
“The top programs in the state, they don’t care. “You know why? Because they’ll keep winning. But us guys in the middle who are trying to get that consistency — if I had been thrown into this … after we went 1-8, this would have killed our program.”
Maroa-Forsyth coach Josh Jostes
“This eliminated the only reason why conference realignment was happening; now it’s out of the picture. You don’t have to win a certain amount of basketball games (to make the playoffs).”
Quincy Notre Dame athletic director Bill Connell
“Hearing this news brings me great happiness.It’s going to help us tremendously to put together a schedule.
“As a whole for the state, it may be not be in the best interest of some, but in the big picture, they’ve made the right decision.”
Mascoutah High School Athletic Director Scott Battas
“I speak for our entire (Mississippi Valley) conference when I say it is a disappointing day as far as high school football goes in our state. The conference has seemingly done things the right way for a ton of years. We have great relationships and our conference championship means something. We understand why some schools would be in favor of such a move, but it is hard to understand how something could gain so much traction without anyone seeing a model of what this thing will look like. We can all guess but nobody really knows. There were 307 no votes and another 69 with no opinion.
“That is a large of opposition to something with such significant change.”
Marion Head Coach Kerry Martin
“We think it’ll be better for us, keeping us within a 2-2 ½ hour range and avoiding those long trips. (We) played Dunlap last year and on a Friday night drove 4 hours to Dunlap to play a game and we got home at 2:30 in the morning.”
Anna-Jonesboro Football coach Brett Detering
“There are teams dropping football regularly. There are a couple of teams just this week I think went from 11-man football to 8-man football. So ,that changes the number of teams that are playing. Are all the Chicago schools going to play? Are they not going to play? I mean so there’s a lot of questions that have to get answered, so to speak, before they can even go to work on what a district might look like.”
Rochester coach Derek Leonard
“We voted no.I love the Central State Eight. The competition has been great. I love playing all nine teams. That’s what it boils down to. I love the closeness … the JV, freshmen and varsity games were all easy to get to. We had rivalries that we built over 10 years with a lot of these teams, and it goes to other sports. I thought we had a great thing, and I thought it was a great conference. I’m obviously against it. I loved playing all of these nine teams, but obviously some of them don’t like playing us, so it’s fine.”
Edwardsville Athletic Director Alex Fox
“I am hopeful that the new legislation will make scheduling across the state a lot easier for everybody involved. For us, it was a pretty simple question. Our traveling is already happening and football scheduling is tough. To get us something that would lock us into a schedule to where we would be looking for two non-conference games instead of four, it just made sense.
“Next year, we are going to play CBC, a Missouri state champion, Vianney, a Missouri state champion, and DeKalb, a long trip, in Week 3. We’re going to be competitive every year, but we’re not going be what we’ve been every year. There are a lot of schools that refuse to play us. We’re locked in to playing the better Catholic schools in Missouri and traveling north.”
Bureau Valley Principal Jason Spang (member of the IHSA Legislative Committee)
“Number one, this plan was endorsed by the official IHSA Football Advisory Committee. And two, we also felt that it answered the concern of schools wanting to jump into another conference in search of that fifth win to possibly qualify them for playoffs.”
St. Bede Academy Principal Michelle Mershon
“While there was some at St. Bede here that supported this, I did vote against this.We didn’t know who we would be playing against and don’t know how quickly districts would be defined. We will have to find two games, so I’m nervous about that. And I’m nervous about the potential travel.
“But it has passed, and we will move forward.”