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IHSA Scraps District Format For Football

Illinois high school football coaches won't have to plan for a major shift in its scheduling and playoffs after all.
Jeff Smudde
Illinois high school football coaches won't have to plan for a major shift in its scheduling and playoffs after all.

The Illinois High School Association has scrapped a controversial plan to shift its playoff and scheduling format for football starting in 2021.

IHSA member schools have voted 374-241 in online balloting to rescind the plan it adopted in December 2018 that would have allowed the association to assign schools to geographic districts according to size, thus eliminating football conferences.

“There is incredible passion for high school football in our state, and the subject of football district scheduling has been no exception,” said IHSA executive director Craig Anderson. “We do not expect the discussion surrounding football regular-season scheduling and the playoff structure to dissipate, so we will be charged with continuing to facilitate discussion and ideas among our member school coaches and administrators.”

IHSA assistant executive director Matt Troha said the current system isn't perfect, but it's worked for many years. He added it's back to the status quo unless the membership decides it wants to come up with a different plan.

“It’s difficult to have a system that’s been in place as long as ours has been and to change it,” Troha said. “It’s just difficult to get people all on board.”

The district plan was intended to help schools play similar-size programs. Some schools opposed it because it meant longer road trips and fewer games against rival schools.

Troha suggested some schools may have lost support for the district format after seeing the schools they may been paired with based on sample districts the IHSA released.

“Apparently that must have just been enough to make some people reconsider their vote and go the other way this time,” Troha said.

The IHSA would have established the eight-team districts and realignments, when necessary, would have come every two years. The top four teams in each district would have qualified for the playoffs.

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