Why it might have made sense for West Aurora to rejoin DVC

 
 
Updated 9/12/2018 6:52 AM
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  • Photos from the West Aurora at Naperville Central Class 8A first round playoff football game on Friday, October 27, 2017.

      Photos from the West Aurora at Naperville Central Class 8A first round playoff football game on Friday, October 27, 2017. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

More conference shuffling.

Shocking.

Sorry for the sarcasm, but this is Eyes on Five. It's part of our DNA.

This week's edition looks at more changes coming to the high school (football) landscape in and around DuPage County.

It never ends.

Go (South) west, Aurora!:

Last week West Aurora announced what was pretty much a forgone conclusion. The Blackhawks are leaving the Upstate Eight Conference and joining the Southwest Prairie Conference, effective next school year.

The UEC, now a 10-school league, will shrink to nine. Odd never being a good number for conferences, the powers that be likely will try to even the membership heading into 2019-20.

The Southwest Prairie, which is also expected to add Yorkville, will bloom to 12 schools and divide into two divisions of six for football. A likely division for the Blackhawks would include Oswego, Oswego East, Plainfield North, Yorkville and either Minooka or Plainfield East.

Why the change, only six years after rejoining the UEC? They left the UEC once before to join the DuPage Valley Conference in 1997, but came back in 2013.

According to West Aurora athletic director Jason Buckley in a Daily Herald article written by John Lemon, the Blackhawks are struggling to find games for their lower-level programs because many of the current UEC schools can't fill them. The Southwest Prairie also offers better commutes from West Aurora.

Both understandable points. When Batavia, Geneva, St. Charles East and St. Charles North left the UEC to form the DuKane Conference this school year with Glenbard North, Lake Park, Wheaton North and Wheaton Warrenville South from the DVC, West Aurora lost a major source of competition for its lower levels.

And, indeed, traveling to Oswego and Oswego East will take much less time than a trek to Streamwood for a 4:30 p.m. weekday baseball game.

So I get it ... but ... why not come back to the DVC?

Why not?:

Let's be honest. The DVC is struggling with only five schools -- Metea Valley, Naperville Central, Naperville North and Waubonsie Valley.

Adding a sixth school wouldn't completely solve the problem, but it'd help immensely. And West Aurora seems ready to compete, especially in football.

Let's look again at the reasons for leaving the UEC. Filling levels? No one fills levels better than the DVC. Commute times? You'd be surprised.

I did some quick math on Google Maps and discovered the average commute from West Aurora to its future Southwest Prairie opponents would be about 11 miles in a division with Plainfield East and 13 miles with Minooka. In the DVC the average commute would be about 10.5 miles.

The average enrollment of the other five schools in the projected SPC division would be about 2,350 with Plainfield East and 2,445 with Minooka. In the DVC the average is 2935 ... but that's bloated by Neuqua Valley's 3,600 students, just as the SPC's average includes a low outlier of Yorkville's 1,780.

West Aurora's enrollment is listed at 3,665 according to the IHSA.

Now, there's history that must be considered ... and maybe not revisited through a reunion. West Aurora won a total of 21 DVC football games in 17 seasons including six winless seasons.

Still ... West Aurora back in the DVC? Would've been interesting to see.

Trickling down:

We're experiencing the trickle-down effect of the DuKane Conference's formation ... the departure of West Aurora from the Upstate Eight Conference, the DuPage Valley Conference's search for replacement schools and now the UEC's search to even its membership again.

Welcome to the shuffle, DeKalb.

Because of other shuffling reasons, the Barbs are staring down life as an independent next school year. They've been denied admission once by the UEC because of the timing, but they're trying again.

DeKalb may take a sniff at the DVC, but with an enrollment under 1,900 it doesn't seem like the best fit.

The next shoe to drop may come in the Metro Suburban Conference, which expanded this school year by adding more private schools. There are nine private school football teams spread between the two divisions, and only four public schools.

Whether it's the public schools splitting off or the private schools, it sure feels like the days are numbered for the MSC's current setup.

High school football:

For the first time since the 2000 playoffs, last weekend Naperville North played a cross-town game at Naperville Central.

What a great atmosphere.

The Redhawks brought in extra stands to accommodate the larger crowd, and the lively student sections cooperated by being extra lively. Whiteout on one side, Blackout on the other.

For almost two decades the cross-town game has been played at North Central College, but because the teams face each other twice this season, the first game was played at Naperville Central and the second game will be at North Central in Week 6.

I've said it before but last weekend's atmosphere makes me say it again.

Let's move the cross-town game back to the high schools.

Stat time:

Congrats to a trio of football teams off to great starts.

Wheaton Warrenville South is 3-0, surpassing its win total from each of the last three seasons. York is 2-1, which already matches last year's win total and exceeds the year before.

Finally, St. Francis is 3-0 ... pretty good stuff after 1-8 seasons the last two years.

Follow Kevin on Twitter

@kevin_schmit

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