The Illinois High School Association released a mock-up of the district playoff system that is currently set to be implemented in 2021 on Wednesday to its member schools.
The district system was voted in by a narrow margin in December, and was voted on without an official projection from the state as to what the districts might look like. Now, with rumblings of potential counter-proposals to attempt to restore the system that is currently in place, the IHSA elected to release a hypothetical scenario for what the upcoming 2019 season would look like in a district system.
The mock-up is quite specific regarding its parameters. It is not what the districts will look like in 2021 as enrollments will change, cooperation agreements will dissolve and re-form, and some teams may elect to switch to 8-man football or possibly drop programs altogether.
Even so, this mock-up provides several clues to how the districts may be formed if and when the districts do come to fruition.
Here are some thngs to consider when looking at the IHSA’s mock-up:
• The state had 549 schools that had 11-man football teams last season. Thirty-six of those schools, all from the Chicago Public League, have never been playoff eligible. This mock-up has all of those teams in the districting format.
• The inclusion of those teams does some notable things to where teams are classified. Many of those previously ineligible teams are of mid-sized enrollments. So teams that have typically resided as larger schools in upper classifications (5A, 6A, 7A) may find themselves bumped up a class in this mock.
• With the addition of those CPL teams, each class has more than 64 teams, thus requiring some districts to have more than eight teams. Classes 1A through 5A have 68 projected teams, while 6A has 69 teams and 7A and 8A have 70.
• This mock-up does not include adjustments for teams that are currently subject to the success factor, since they may not be subject to the success factor when the district system would be implemented.
• It hasn’t been made clear whether or not the waiver process for multiplied teams will continue in the district system. But for the purpose of this mock-up, no school has been supplied with a multiplier waiver. This creates substantial havoc with the expected break lines, as some notable programs as St. Rita, Marian Central and Bloomington Central Catholic are eligible for waivers in the current system.
• Teams that voluntarily elected to play up last season (Phillips and East St. Louis) were placed in the mock-up solely where their enrollment mandated. Phillips, in particular, probably won’t be all that pleased with a Class 4A district that lacks any real competitive challenge. East St. Louis’ decision may have been taken out of their hands already as the Southwestern Conference is reportedly mandating that teams not petition to “play up”.
• While the mapping certainly could change (and most likely will), some clues were given to how teams might line up when the time comes. The St. Louis metro area teams in Class 8A, for example, were grouped with teams in the south suburbs such as Minooka, Joliet Central, Joliet West and Lincoln-Way East.
• There is absolutely no competitive balancing being done in this mock-up. In areas where classifications have a heavy concentration of teams, all in one basic geographic group, some power programs such as Mount Carmel, Nazareth and Phillips are currently placed in districts where the opposition will likely provide little to no resistance.