The Future Of Illinois High School Football

By Anthony Jones, Reporter

This past December, IHSA member schools voted on many proposals to change or add rules to the association for a variety of sports and activities. This year, 11 proposals made it to that voting stage and all 11 passed. While some of the approved amendments will only have small impacts, Proposal 23 will have major ramifications for high school football in Illinois.

One important note on the proposal is it will not go into effect until the 2021 season begins and it only affects football. The amendment will have the IHSA change many things with the first being that class sizes for teams will be decided before the season starts, which is something all other sports were already doing.

The next step to follow is the IHSA will create 8 districts for each class size and districts will consist of teams with similar geographic locations. Teams in each district will play each other in a round robin style during the regular season and they will be able to pick teams of their choosing to fill out the rest of their nine week schedule.

At the end of the nine weeks, the top 4 teams in each district, which will be determined by district record, will advance to the playoffs. Districts will have about 8 or 9 teams each, so roughly half of teams will make the playoffs in this system. Districts will replace Conferences, which is the current grouping system for teams.

The new playoff system will not change playoff length or size as 256 will remain the number of playoff teams. The district proposal had been tried before in 2009 and 2014, but it took until this year for it to gain a majority of votes to pass.

The final tally was 324(yes)-307(no)-69(no opinion). The voting was decided by less than a three percent difference and about eleven percent of the yes or no votes came from schools that do not have football teams, so they could have been a deciding factor. 

Once districts are decided they will be used for a 2 year cycle and then reviewed. Earlier this year, the IHSA released tentative district assignments. There will almost certainly be differences for some schools in state between those districts and what they will actually been in 2021, since it is three years away and there are many things that can change between now and then.

Listed below are the tentative districts for the Collinsville Kahoks, Triad Kinights, and Edwardsville Tigers

Collinsville Kahoks

Class 7A South District A

Alton (Sr.)

Belleville (West)

Collinsville

Granite City

Moline (H.S.)

Normal (Community)

Pekin

Quincy (Sr.)

The Kahoks predicted district would feature several familiar foes they faced in the Southwestern Conference which they left at the end of the 2018-2019 year in football. Moline, Normal, Pekin, and Quincy would be new rivals on the gridiron. This new opponents would all be around two hours away, escept for Moline, which is about a three hour drive.

Triad Knights

Class 5A South District D

Bethalto (Civic Memorial)

Cahokia (H.S.)

Carbondale (H.S.)

Highland

Marion (H.S.)

Mascoutah

Triad

Waterloo

The Knights predicted district would keep them competing with 4 of the other schools from their current Mississippi Valley Conference, with Jerseyville as the lone exception. Cahokia, Carbondale, and Marion all have battled against Triad before but the years have added up since those matchups. Cahokia is about thirty minutes away from Triad, while Cahokia and Carbondale are near an hour and a half.

Edwardsville Tigers

Class 8A South District D

Belleville (East)

Edwardsville (H.S.)

Frankfort (Lincoln-Way East)

Joliet (Central)

Joliet (West)

Lockport (Twp.)

Minooka

O’Fallon (H.S.)

Edwardsville would remain with current conference opponents Belleville East and O’Fallon. However their remaining opponents would all be over three and a half hours away, just one way. Another way to put that in to scale is if they traveled to those five opponents and back, they would have trekked the equivalent of over ten percent of the Earth’s circumference in miles.

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