[Mary Beth Nolan]
DeKalb football coach Matt Weckler said he likes the plan. And while it certainly would help the Barbs, he said he also was a fan of the plan when it was proposed in 2014.
Weckler said the opportunity to play nonconference games that don’t effect playoff positioning opens up a world of possibilities.
“If the IHSA put it in play, we’d all have to do it, and we’d get used to it and like it,” Weckler said. “I’ve talked to other coaches in other states that have similar district alignments, and at first, they didn’t like it, but now they love it. When you’re looking for nonconference, it’s a lot of fun because you can find the best possible teams to play. It’s not only about competition but exposure as well.”
But questions remain, notably travel concerns.
Travel probably wouldn’t be too much of an issue for the vast majority of Class 7A and Class 8A schools in the Chicago area. But 7A and 8A schools outside the Chicago area could wind up getting stuck in the same district as schools on the fringes of the Chicago suburbs. High school football expert Steve Soucie created his own district projections for Shaw Media.
According to Soucie’s projections, one Class 8A district includes Belleville East, Belleville West, Edwardsville, Minooka, O’Fallon, Plainfield East, Plainfield North and Plainfield South.
It’s 272 miles from Plainfield East to Belleville West, or roughly a four-hour drive. With half the district in the Chicago area and half in the St. Louis area, each team in the district would likely have to make two similar road trips during the course of the nine-game regular season.
One Class 7A projected district is even more spread out. Soucie projects Alton, Bradley-Bourbonnais, Collinsville, East St. Louis, Moline, Normal Community, Pekin and Quincy in the same district.
Bradley-Bourbonnais’ closest district opponent would be 83 miles away. Moline’s closest district opponent would be 102 miles away.
Goff said he doesn’t think the proposal will pass, and Carrick said he wasn’t sure.
“You’re looking at 17 percent or so of the state needing to change their minds [since the 2014 vote],” Carrick said. “I think some smaller schools, some downstate schools, don’t have as much shuffling as the Chicagoland area. The people I’ve talked to are about 50-50 on it. I don’t really have a gut feeling one way or the other.”
• Sean Hammond contributed to this report. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.