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Football

Prep football: IHSA schools to vote on district proposal

DeKalb's Jordan Gandy looks for open field against Morris.
Steve Bittinger - For Shaw Media
DeKalb's Jordan Gandy looks for open field against Morris. Steve Bittinger - For Shaw Media

IHSA member schools will vote on 11 proposals to amend the IHSA constitution and by-laws in December. Each proposal needs a simple majority in order to pass.

Among the proposals being considered is the “district” proposal that was introduced by the IHSA football committee last spring, which would drastically change the landscape of high school football scheduling and the IHSA postseason.

Under the proposal, the IHSA would determine the playoff classes prior to the season and each class would be broken up into eight geographic groups. Teams would still play a nine-week regular season, with games against all opponents (likely seven or eight teams) in their region.

The remaining non-region games could be scheduled at each school’s discretion. Only games against region opponents would count toward the region standings. The top four teams in each region would qualify for the postseason.

The IHSA noted that this proposal, if schools were to pass it, would not take effect until the 2021 season.

The proposal would effectively end traditional football conferences. In recent years, conferences have frequently realigned as schools search for a schedule that will help them reach playoff eligibility. The emphasis on five wins would no longer be necessary.

On the flip side, some traditional conference rivalries might be lost. The ability to schedule non-region games gives schools an opportunity to play rivals from outside the region, without those games counting against the playoff standings.

Regular season travel for some schools would potentially be a concern. Joliet Herald-News sports editor Steve Soucie created a projection for what the system would look like when it was first introduced in May.

Problems arise when Class 7A and 8A schools in the St. Louis area get lumped into the same region as schools in the southwest Chicago suburbs. In Soucie’s projection, one Class 8A group would include Belleville East, Belleville West, Edwardsville, Minooka, O’Fallon, Plainfield East, Plainfield North and Plainfield South.

IHSA member schools rejected a similar proposal in 2014 by a vote of 395 to 212.

Voting begins Dec. 3, with the deadline set for Dec. 17. The IHSA will post results of the vote on Dec. 18. Each IHSA member school receives one vote: yes, no or no opinion.

Other proposals worth noting

Proposal 15: This proposal would synchronize the beginning of practices for fall sports. Currently football, boys golf and girls golf begin practice two days earlier in August than girls tennis, girls swimming, girls volleyball, boys soccer and girls and boys cross country.

If this proposals passed, all fall sports would begin practice the same day. For example, in 2019, all fall sports would begin practice on Monday, Aug. 12.

Proposal 25: Sets season limitations for girls wrestling, allowing schools the option to establish a girls wrestling team. The proposal does not create a girls wrestling postseason, though it does note this would be “in anticipation of a separate state series for girls wrestling in the future.”

The rationale for the proposal notes that the IHSA followed a similar process when competitive cheerleading and dance were emerging sports. Girls wrestling participation nationwide has been rising.

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