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Jeff Vorva's Extra Point -- SWSC super football conference could be super confusing

  • Written by Jeff Vorva

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Pay attention, class.

There may be a quiz later.

I was good at general math but not algebra. And the new SouthWest Suburban Conference football schedule for next year and beyond have me scratching my head.

Here’s the deal.

The conference has 16 schools broken into two divisions. The Blue has eight of the biggest schools and the Red has the other eight.

Joliet Central and Joliet West will leave the Blue to join the South Suburban Prairie Conference and Lincoln-Way North is leaving the Red because the school is closing down.

This is the easy part. If you take away three from 16, you have 13 teams left. I get that.

But here’s where the powers that be throw a little curveball when it comes to next year’s football schedule and possibly beyond that.

Instead of having one division with seven teams and one with six (like they will be doing for most of the other sports such as volleyball, basketball and wrestling) the SWSC officials decided to have one big 13-team super conference for football.

The trouble is, there are nine weeks to play football during the regular season.

This is where it starts to feel a little like algebra in my mind.

Bradley Bourbonnais Athletic Director Mike Lehning, who is the conference representative, tried explaining it to me recently.

“Who you play is based on a combination of size of the school and your record in the conference for the last four years,” he said. “You obviously can’t play everybody. It’s 50-50 based on the size of your school and your record as to how tough your schedule it.’’

But the schedule won’t be 50-50.

Some schools will play seven conference game and some will play six.

“If it happens that a team is 7-0 and a team that is 6-0, we will have conference co-champs,’’ he said.   “Some crazy things will have to occur for that to happen, but it could. Same if one team is 6-1 and a team is 5-1.’’

It’s a little like the old Big Ten Conference or even the current East Suburban Catholic Conference where no one plays everyone.

The two local teams in the league – Sandburg and Stagg – have interesting schedules.

Sandburg has six conference games. The Eagles will open the season with two non-conference games and will play Thornton the third week, Bolingbrook, Stagg, Homewood-Flossmoor, Lincoln-Way East, a  non-conference game week eight and finish the regular season against Lincoln-Way West.

Stagg will play two non-conference game and dive into a seven-game conference schedule by playing Bolingbrook, Lincoln-Way West, Sandburg, Thornridge, Thornwood, Lockport and Andrew.

Some teams will have holes in their conference schedules.

“One team will be out every week,” Lehning said. “Some schools will have to find non-conference games during the season. What’s lucky is that there are other conferences in similar situations. The DuPage Valley Conference is one. The Big 12 --- which is between Peoria and Danville – doesn’t have 12 teams. They are looking for games in the middle of their conference season.

“I’m not speaking for the other schools in our conference, but those are other conferences with teams available. We have Urbana in week 7.  For us, that will work. I don’t know where the others are going.’’

He said this setup will “go on as long as we have an odd number in the conference.’’

When it comes to the other sports in which all 13 conference members have teams, it will continue to be broken up into the Blue and Red.

In 2016-17, the Blue will feature Sandburg, Stagg, Lockport, Bolingbrook, Homewood-Flossmoor and Lincoln-Way East.

The Red will have Lincoln-Way Central, Bradley, Andrew, Thornton, Thornwood, Lincoln-Way West and Thornridge

That’s the easy math.

The tricky part is that it will likely change in 2017-18.

Right now, the conference teams are broken up by enrollment figures from this school year so they can get rolling on finishing up the schedule.

But 2017-18 will be using the enrollment figures from 2016-17, which are expected to be different.

 “The numbers of enrollment are going to change,” Lehning said. “Because North won’t exist, all the populations in the Lincoln-Way schools will increase. We won’t know those numbers until next fall. So this is a one-year deal.’’

Got all that? Good. The quiz will be coming shortly.

When I stop scratching my head.

 What’s in a name?

I once went to high school with a kid named Ronald McDonald and knew another kid named Richard Nixon.

They were named long before Ronald was a clown and Nixon was not a crook.

Both kids received some commentary from their peers for most of their lives and let me make this perfectly clear, it was not all flattering.

I once covered a basketball game in which the coach smartly used his nickname. Chuck Manson sounds a lot easier on the ears than his given name – Charles Manson.

This year, I saw a couple of names pop up in the world of high school basketball from a couple of players who probably enjoyed their names a lot more than they do now.

In Libertyville, there is an emerging star named Drew Peterson.

At Morgan Park Academy, one of the top scorers is Isis Rodriquez.

Tough times to have those names.

 Players of the Year revealed

Is football finally over?

OK, now we can finally run our fall athletic Player of the Year stories. Anthony Nasella and I have been busy getting these bad boys together and we are recognizing the best of the best in nine sports including eight that we’ve never given postseason recognition to.

We have four on our front page this week.

Next week, look for our Player of the Year winners in boys cross country, girls cross country and girls swimming.

Finally, on Dec. 24 we will run our girls volleyball and football Player of the Year stories.

And I am already digging into the vaults for our top 10 sports stories of the year for 2015, which will run Dec. 31, and have gotten through June and already nine stories have jumped out at me. A lot has happened since then so it’s going to be a year in which it’s going to be hard to choose.

That’s what makes it frustrating.

And that’s what makes it fun.