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VIEWS: Sycamore's dream season shouldn't have to end this way

Published: Saturday, Nov. 23, 2013 6:51 p.m. CDT • Updated: Saturday, Nov. 23, 2013 6:56 p.m. CDT
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Erica Benson-ebenson@shawmedia.com Sycamore reacts to their loss against Montini during their state semifinal game Saturday November 23 2013.

LOMBARD – Sycamore had a magnificent season.

A school-record 12 wins, a Northern Illinois Big 12 East title, the first team to beat Kaneland in the regular season since 2009.

Saturday's 42-20 loss to Montini in the IHSA Class 5A semifinals should not change that.

What does need to change is the IHSA's classification system. Montini will be going for its fifth consecutive state championship at Huskie Stadium on Saturday. The Broncos, however, aren't really a Class 5A team. They're an all-star team, that's able to recruit throughout the highly populated western suburbs.

Sycamore had its best team in recent memory, a team which dominated throughout the regular season, beating other schools in so many different ways. The Spartans still couldn't get within two touchdowns of the Broncos, a 7A or 8A school masked as a 5A team.

Broncos defensive end Dylan Thompson – an Ohio State commit, and linebacker Nile Sykes, who has numerous BCS offers, don't even start on offense due to the depth Montini has. The Broncos are a powerhouse in what is an unfair playing field.

Among the state's 32 semifinalists this weekend, 11 of them were private schools. Since the IHSA went to eight classes in 2001, a private school has won the 5A title every year except 2007, when Metamora defeated Morris.

When it hasn't been Montini hoisting the first-place trophy, it's been schools such as Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin – whom the Broncos will play at Huskie Stadium Saturday morning, Wheaton St. Francis, New Lenox Providence and Joliet Catholic.

In 2005, the IHSA approved the multiplier. Private schools and those without geographical boundaries have their enrollments multiplied by 1.65. Montini, for example, has an official enrollment of 667, but under the multiplier the Broncos are at 1,100.55.

I understand the Broncos have had some close calls, such as the second-round game against the Spartans last year or the 2011 semifinal against Kaneland. However, it's pretty clear this isn't working.

There's just no parity in Illinois prep football these days.

The IHSA is studying a "success factor" system, which would move teams up in class based on recent success in a certain sport. Indiana recently implemented a similar system. Maybe that's the answer.

What I would like to see are private (or non-boundaried public) schools bumped up two classes. If you're a 3A school, you're in 5A, etc. And hey, we all know not every private school is built like Montini.

In 2011, the IHSA allowed a waiver system in which private football teams which haven't won a playoff game in six years aren't subject to the multiplier. Keeping this in place would be fine with me.

I'm sure people who either play at, graduated from or have kids at private schools will vehemently disagree with me.

Everyone's entitled to their opinion, but I'd love for someone to present a valid argument about the current system being fair.

Sycamore had a great season, and this team will be remembered for a long time. The Spartans' student section Saturday afternoon looked just like it would for a normal home game. People in black and gold lined the visitor's sideline. I honestly felt there were more Sycamore fans than Montini fans.

Everyone who supported Sycamore Saturday saw their team get eliminated by the Broncos in the playoffs for the fifth time in seven years.

Under a better system, there's a good chance everyone who drove an hour into the suburbs to support their team would be watching Sycamore at Huskie Stadium at the state finals, with a lot more Spartan fans joining them.

Unfortunately, with the system that's in place, seeing a public school win a Class 5A state title will always be a longshot.

Steve Nitz a sports writer for the Daily Chronicle. He can be reached via e-mail at snitz@shawmedia.com and follow him on Twitter @SNitz_DDC.

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