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The New Face Of Football

  • Starting in 2021, football conferences will be no more as the IHSA approved a vote to allow for District Football.

    Starting in 2021, football conferences will be no more as the IHSA approved a vote to allow for District Football.
    SPYDER DANN | mdann@dailyregister.com

 
By Spyder Dann mdann@dailyregister.com
updated: 12/19/2018 2:04 PM

The face of high school football is about to change.

The Illinois High School Association released the results of a vote by member schools that approves a proposal to allow district play in high school football beginning in 2021.

Essentially, that signals the end for the end of conferences and in southern Illinois that means no more South Seven, Southern Illinois River-To-River Ohio & Mississippi and Black Diamond.

The vote was approved 324-307-69 and stated: Directs the IHSA to implement a football scheduling system for regular-season varsity games that would involve the following: (a) a 9-week regular season, (b) playoff classes determined in advance of the season; (c) schools from each class placed into 8 geographic groups by the IHSA Office to play a round-robin schedule; (d) the remaining games on the regular season schedule to be arranged by the individual schools at their discretion; (e) the top 4 teams in each of the 8 groups qualify for the playoffs, based on games played within each group. This proposal will take effect starting with the 2021 football season.

In layman terms, A school will have eight teams in its district. You will be assigned seven district games and then allowed to schedule two out of district games. The top four teams in each district will make the playoffs and you will not know your schedule more than two years in advance.

Beginning in 2021, the IHSA will assign football teams to eight or nine team groupings (i.e. "districts") based on classification and geography. Previously, schools did not officially know their postseason classification until the completion of the regular-season. The IHSA will assign each school's regular-season games against their district opponents. Districts will be set for two years, allowing home and away scheduling within the district. Schools will have the autonomy to schedule their non-district opponents for any open weeks, but those non-district games will not count toward playoff qualification. The district assigning process will be similar to how schools are assigned to Regionals and Sectionals in other IHSA sports and activities.

"We understand that everyone wants to know what district and class they will be in, but the reality is that we are two years away from being able to tabulate that information," IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson said. "IHSA districts will operate on a two-year cycle, schools will need the next two years to evaluate their participation. Some may choose to join coops or disband coops. Some may choose to play eight-man football. Chicago Public Schools will need to determine what schools it will make playoff eligible, and we will also have non boundaried schools that will change classes in that timeframe as they gain or lose multiplier waivers."

Harrisburg athletic director Greg Langley, who voted in favor of the districts, said the concept behind district play was to make scheduling easier over a nine week period.

Currently, the Bulldogs still have a Week 3 opening after Boonville, Indiana decided to not renew its contract, which expired this past season.

"For us personally at Harrisburg, it will definitely help us in regards to scheduling football games," Langley said. It's gotten increasingly more difficult in recent years and I do understand there are a few schools that don't have that program, but I guess in this case, there were 324schools that felt like this is something we needed to do."

Massac County principal and IHSA official representative Parker Windhorst echoed many of Langley's sentiments.

"I think it will help the schools that weren't in closed conferences schedule games and overall it could stabalize things in our conference when it comes to talk of schools leaving."

Langley said there is still plenty to figure out, primarily which teams are going to be in which districts.

A school like Eldorado, part of the 10-team Black Diamond Conference, would be on the flip side of that coin.

"I'm not a big fan of it, but, it is what it is," Eldorado athletic director Greg Goodley said Tuesday morning.

"It's just something you have to do. We'll have to adjust and see how it pans out. I don't think the system was broke the way they had it. It'll be interesting to see how they break it up and what travel will be.

"If I said I was surprised by this decision, I would be lying," Goodley acknowledged.

"We were in a different situation, we had a full football schedule and not everyone has that," Goodley admitted. "I know for us, and maybe even selfishly, we took care of putting a conference together where we had games and didn't have to go out looking. Other conferences didn't and it was a struggle. We'll just have to make it work."

Marion, likely the biggest proponent of this decision in southern Illinois, has had to travel in year's past to Galesburg, Dunlap, Champaign. The decision comes at a good time according to athletic director Ryan Goodisky.ญญญญ

"We feel this will help us with travel, budgeting, but most important schedule stability."

Also of note, the IHSA sent out classification cutoffs for 2019-20 and 2020-21 for boys and girls basketball, baseball, softball and volleyball.

Class 1A will now be 1-299 with 2A consisting of 299.01 to 697.00, while 3A will be 697.01 to 1635 and 4A being 1635.01 and above.

In boys and girls' soccer, the Class A numbers will range from 16697.00, while 2A will be 697.01-1635.00 and 3A will be 1635.01 and above.

Boys' wrestling will be 1-788.00 in 1A and 788.01-1726.00 in 2A and 1726.01 and above in 3A.

Classification cutoffs in other sports and activities will deviate only slightly from the figures that are in use during the current school year. Classifications for sports and activities that take place during the winter and spring will be released after the end of their respective seasons.

Spyder Dann covers prep and college sports for the Southern Illinois Local Media News Group. Follow him on Twitter: @spydieshooter.

 
 
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