Conference shuffling continues for DuPage County teams
A few tweaks and a bombshell constitute 2019 DuPage County football conference shuffling.
The biggie is the Chicago Catholic League and the East Suburban Catholic Conference merging into the imaginatively named CCL/ESCC. For football only, the CCL/ESCC contains 24 teams playing in six divisions of four apiece based on a formula honoring success within their conference, enrollment and size of program.
Five 2018 state finalists and three defending champions are in the mix. Benet's got one of them in the CCL/ESCC Orange, Class 7A champion Nazareth. Class 5A runner-up Montini heads the CCL/ESCC Green.
"Just like playing in the (CCL) Blue last year, that was a huge change. But we navigated through that last year during the season, and we'll have to do the same this year," said Montini coach Mike Bukovsky.
That merger happened quickly. The new Illinois Central Eight had been in the works since 2017 when Lisle and seven other schools announced they'd be leaving the Interstate Eight, which continues with a different roster.
Former IEC member Westmont was among dominoes tumbling into new leagues after West Aurora pulled out of the Upstate Eight Conference. Fenton moves into the UEC from the Metro Suburban Conference Red Division. Westmont, an independent in 2018, replaces Fenton.
Only Glenbard South has a lower enrollment than Fenton among UEC teams.
"We'll be playing teams in Class 7A or higher, so it should give us the opportunity to see where we measure up and prepare us for the 6A playoffs," said Bison coach Matthew Lynch.
Last year's major move, the melding of four teams apiece from DuPage and Kane counties into the DuKane Conference, left the DuPage Valley Conference with an awkward five teams. DeKalb's arrival now gives the DVC an automatic playoff qualifier and eliminates a bye week, though Metea Valley, Naperville North, Neuqua Valley and Waubonsie Valley all will play one DVC team twice. The second game does not count in DVC standings.
Such quirks will be redressed should football convert to Illinois High School Association "district" scheduling in 2021 as proposed. If it comes to pass, for better or worse, arrangements like the CCL/ESCC will be relegated to history.
"It would have been kind of interesting to see how it played out," said Benet coach Pat New. "But even districts will be fun. Even if we're playing teams like Naperville Central, we're already playing tough teams like Marist and Nazareth. The way high school football is now, it's never easy."