One of the most common trends in high school athletics in recent years is the constant shuffling of conferences. Some switch conferences to align themselves with schools with similar population sizes or skill levels, while others are looking for a change in the level of competition. Regardless of the reasoning, dozens of schools in the IHSA have jumped from conference to conference with increasing frequency over the past two decades such as Benet Academy.
The Naperville area has not been immune, as Neuqua Valley, Metea Valley and Waubonise Valley all left the Upstate 8 to join the Dupage Valley Conference in 2015, only to see Lake Park, Glenbard North, Wheaton North and Wheaton Warrenville South leave the DVC for the newly formed DuKane conference in 2018.
Beginning this fall, Benet Academy will be apart of one of the biggest conference shakeups in Illinois history, as the 10 team East Suburban Catholic Conference will merge with 14 teams from the historic Chicago Catholic League to form a 24 team, six division mega conference. But here’s the catch, this merger only applies to the sport of Football.
While football will act as the guinea pig, the other sports may soon follow the same path into this new conference formation.
The New Conference
The six divisions were divided up by school size and performance level to create competitive balance across the 24 teams. Benet will be a part of the CCL/ESCC Orange Division along with Nazareth from the ESCC and De La Salle and St. Laurence of the CCL. Despite the wide range of teams, the Redwing coaches and players know that just like in the ESCC days, every game is going to be a battle.
The future of this newly minted mega conference is unclear, especially after the IHSA announced that its football teams will begin district scheduling beginning in 2021. Which means that the ESCC/CCL could shutter just as quickly as it opened.
While the high school football landscape awaits the IHSA decision, the ESCC and CCL will see their historic rivaliries and challenging competition continue on…at least for the next two years.
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