Do these DuPage County rivalries have a future?

  • Naperville North and Naperville Central will play Friday night at North Central College.

      Naperville North and Naperville Central will play Friday night at North Central College. John Starks | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 9/24/2019 5:52 PM

Two weeks ago we introduced you to District Week.

Now, welcome to Rivalry Week.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Enjoy it while you can because, as Eyes on Five is about to show you, football slates like this may disappear in a couple years.

1. Good news:

You couldn't ask for better Week 5 matchups in DuPage County. At the heart is a series of rivalry games that happen to fall on the same night.

In the DuPage Valley Conference you've got Naperville North-Naperville Central and Neuqua Valley-Waubonsie Valley. In the West Suburban Conference there's Downers Grove North-Hinsdale Central, Hinsdale South-Downers South and Addison Trail-Willowbrook.

Here's another handful of stellar weekend games: Aurora Christian-IC Catholic Prep and St. Francis-McNamara in the Metro Suburban Conference, Batavia-Wheaton Warrenville South and Wheaton North-Glenbard North in the DuKane Conference, South Elgin-Glenbard East in the Upstate Eight, Wilmington-Lisle in the Illinois Central Eight and York-Glenbard West in the WSC Silver.

That's 12 games off the top of the keyboard.

Now how many will remain once districts arrive in 2021?

2. The bad news:

When districts become law of the Land of Lincoln in 2021 -- assuming another proposal isn't voted in before then -- conferences will cease to exist for football and the new groupings of eight or nine teams will be based on enrollment and geography.

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That means some of the matchups listed above also won't exist.

Downers South, for example, will be in a Class 8A district while Hinsdale South, with an enrollment of 1,200 fewer students, will be in 6A. Hinsdale Central is 600 students larger than Downers Grove North, meaning they'll be in different classes -- and different districts.

While conferences are organized with similar enrollments in mind, it's not an exact science. But it often works regardless. The Downers and Hinsdales may not match up enrollment-wise, but they make perfect conference mates.

Before you spurn districts, though, there's hope.

3. The silver lining:

The Napervilles and the Valleys from the DVC should remain in the same district. Same with much of the DKC and several other leagues.

Even if they don't, keep in mind there's an important element to districts: non-district games.

Under the district system there will be one or two non-district games at the start of the season. They won't count toward playoff qualification -- meaning they're basically exhibition games -- but at least it opens opportunities.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Downers South could schedule Downers North and Hinsdale South in non-district action. Hinsdale Central could play Hinsdale South and Downers North.

Even with that concession, though, there's no avoiding the loss of tradition. There may be no more Hinsdale Central-Lyons Twp. game. No more Downers South-Willowbrook. And who would Glenbard West schedule for non-district games?

We'll move on while that sinks in.

4. Moving up:

As if Class 7A needed a boost.

The IHSA announced that Phillips -- a recent Class 4A and Class 5A champion -- will compete in the Class 7A playoffs this season and next after petitioning to play up from their IHSA enrollment of 575.50.

That means you're looking at a potential 7A field headed by Glenbard West, Mr. Carmel, Nazareth ... and Phillips. Just for a start.

As much as DuPage County hopefuls Willowbrook, Wheaton Warrenville South and Benet aim to break through, the path just become much tougher.

5. Stat time:

Two state titles and six semifinal appearances in 13 seasons ... last Friday was an inevitability for Glenbard West coach Chad Hetlet.

With a 49-0 win over Addison Trail, Hetlet became Glenbard West's winningest coach. He now has 133 victories with the Hilltoppers, topping Jim Covert's total.

Twitter: @kevin_schmit

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