Crossovers with CSL schools benefitting MSL East

  • Elk Grove's Ian Ridge, right, returns a punt against Maine West in a MSL/CLS crossover game last year. Elk Grove hosts Vernon Hills Friday night and Maine West travels to Hoffman Estates as the MSL and CSL enter the first of their two weeks of playing against each other.

      Elk Grove's Ian Ridge, right, returns a punt against Maine West in a MSL/CLS crossover game last year. Elk Grove hosts Vernon Hills Friday night and Maine West travels to Hoffman Estates as the MSL and CSL enter the first of their two weeks of playing against each other. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

 
By Dick Quagliano
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 9/11/2019 8:28 PM

The sun is not the only thing that is rising in the east.

High school football is on a huge upswing in the Mid-Suburban League East Division in the last four seasons.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Last week, for the first time since August 31, 2012 the MSL East won three games against its West counterparts. But even a 3-3 mark in one week could not help sustain the East, which won only 2 of the final 10 games that season.

The MSL had three weeks of crossover games through 2015. In that final season, the East went 2-16 against its West opponents. In that season, the East sent just Rolling Meadows, the division champion, to the state playoffs.

In 2016 the Mid-Suburban League and the Central Suburban League voted to play crossover games. Their series would match like-sized schools along with past football success, to play a pair of nonconference games.

That has helped spur a growth for football in the East. Since those matchups, the East has gained one team in the playoffs in each of the last three years and sent four teams last season.

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"I think that the MSL/CSL crossover games have made a huge difference," Buffalo Grove coach Jeff Vlk said. "Most of the East is built like the CSL on a regular basis. We will get good classes here and there, but the West, partly due to their size in schools, have them more consistent. I think you can tell the difference when you look at the scholarship football players at each school. We have had one in the past 10 years. "

It has also kept the lower level players more engaged, since those teams would also being playing the same opponents as their varsity counterparts.

"This has been the biggest difference for us," Vlk said. "I remember the days of our freshmen playing Fremd and losing 70-0, then having to go play Conant and Barrington. Kids were getting hurt and we did not have the numbers to play teams like that three weeks in a row. Now we are playing schools our own size and giving our kids a chance."

MSL-CSL crossovers begin: This week marks the fourth season of the agreement between the conferences to play crossover games.

Despite the MSL having a 48-24 record during the three-year span, Maine West athletic director Jarrett Kirschner, who sat on the committee that designed the program, says that these games have benefitted everyone.

"I think they are great with schools of like-sized attendance playing each other regardless of the outcomes," Kirschner said. "The games have been competitive and that was the goal in the first place. It also helps on the lower levels because these games also match up programs with the same number of teams on the lower levels."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Like the MSL, Kirschner's school found themselves matched up for two weeks with crossover games with larger CSL South teams. But since the new format, Maine West has been able to rebuild its program playing MSL schools.

Kirschner cites a matchup with Glenbrook South to show how the merger affected the Warriors.

"In the final year before the MSL/CSL games Maine West played Glenbrook South and lost 40-6," Kirschner said. "We scheduled them as a nonconference game this year and played them last week and we won 37-13. We only signed them because we made great progresses in our program."

Hoffman honors vets: At Friday nights' game in Hoffman Estates, local veterans will be honored just before between the Hawks play Maine West in High School Military Night. The color guard from the Hoffman Estates police department will present the colors.

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