ESCC, Catholic League merge for football

 
 
Updated 10/4/2018 12:49 PM
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  • Benet and the rest of the East Suburban Catholic Conference will merge with the Chicago Catholic League for football only, forming six divisions of four teams each.

      Benet and the rest of the East Suburban Catholic Conference will merge with the Chicago Catholic League for football only, forming six divisions of four teams each. John Starks | Staff Photographer

Two of the state's power conferences are poised to create a superconference.

The East Suburban Catholic Conference and the Chicago Catholic League on Thursday released a joint statement announcing a merger for football only, beginning in the 2019 season, that will create a 24-team yet-to-be-named league.

"I think it's really going to work out well," said Benet athletic director and former football coach Gary Goforth. "It's a more competitive balance based on a good formula that was created by the Catholic League. As someone in the meetings said, you'll walk off the bus knowing you have a chance to win most of your games."

There's a future opportunity to expand the merger to all sports, and Goforth said the new league is open to expansion to other schools. The more schools, he believes, the greater chance to create better-balanced divisions.

For now the league will consist of 24 football teams -- all 10 from the ESCC and 14 of the CCL teams; Hope Academy is not included in the merger -- divided into six divisions of four teams each based on a formula taking numerous factors into consideration. In addition to Benet, six-time state champion Montini is included in the merger.

Data gathered from the 2017 and 2018 seasons will be considered in forming the 2019 divisions, and they'll be adjusted every two years. Many factors are included in the formula for determining divisions, including competitiveness and the levels in which programs compete.

Montini, Marmion and most of the rest of the Chicago Catholic League will merge with the East Suburban Catholic Conference for football only, forming six divisions of four teams each.
  Montini, Marmion and most of the rest of the Chicago Catholic League will merge with the East Suburban Catholic Conference for football only, forming six divisions of four teams each. - Patrick Kunzer | Staff Photographer, 2017

Teams will play the three other teams in their division and four crossover games against teams from other divisions based on the collected data. The first two weeks of the seasons are reserved for nonconference games.

"You've got options now," Goforth said. "The biggest motivation to do this was trying to match up the number of participants and levels. Schools are having trouble finding other schools to play at all levels, and this alleviates those issues."

Many of these same schools merged from 1996-2002 as part of the Catholic Metropolitan Conference. Although that league eventually broke apart, Goforth believes this merger -- approved unanimously by the 24 schools -- is better.

The new league includes Benet and Montini in addition to Carmel, Joliet Catholic, Marian Catholic, Marian Central Catholic, Marist, Nazareth, Notre Dame, St. Patrick and St. Viator from the ESCC, and Brother Rice, De La Salle, DePaul Prep, Fenwick, Leo, Loyola, Marmion, Mt. Carmel, Providence, St. Ignatius, St. Joseph, St. Laurence, St. Rita from the CCL.

"This is different (than the Catholic Metropolitan)," Goforth said. "The scheduling is fairer. It's really a good formula they've created. We're excited about it."

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