Photo by Aaron FitzPatrick
Brother Rice football fans went wild after a 49-42 victory over Mt. Carmel in a Chicago Catholic League Blue game in September. Mt. Carmel will be moved to the Green division starting in 2018 and the future of that game is up in the air.
Chicago Catholic League football will have a new look in 2018 with Blue division mainstay Mount Carmel moving down to the Green division.
The realignment of the CCL football conference came as a result of the scheduled departures of three schools (Bishop McNamara, Wheaton St. Francis and football-only member Aurora Christian) in the 2018-19 school year. That loss also affects other sports, with changes to the number of divisions or number of teams in a division yet to be discussed among the coaches, athletic directors and principals.
Southwest Regional Publishing area teams affected by the football reorganization include De La Salle, St. Rita, Mount Carmel, Saint Laurence and Brother Rice.
Mount Carmel will face St. Laurence, which qualified for state the past three years and finished in the Class 5A and 6A state semifinals the past two seasons respectively, on a regular basis as it moves to the Green. De La Salle, Fenwick and Marmion are the other Green teams, with Montini moving up to the Blue.
“Either Montini or Mount Carmel, neither is an easy opponent,” said St. Laurence athletic director Tim Chandler. “After the success we had, we were ready to take on a more challenging schedule. One team doesn’t change our schedule, but overall it’s tougher top to bottom.”
Brother Rice and Mount Carmel had been Blue schools since 2003 – along with Loyola, Providence and St. Rita – and have a rivalry stretching back even further. Montini, which will replace Mount Carmel, beat Mount Carmel in 2016, so there’s little to no relief in the Blue schedule.
Still, Mt. Carmel is the team with the tradition and a team that everyone wants to knock off.
“It’s a shame,” said Brother Rice coach Brian Badke. “Not having that rivalry…you’re breaking some traditions. Rivalries with Aurora Christian or Montini, we’re never going to have that. Montini is a very good program. So, still, every game in the CCL is like a playoff game.”
The approved parity formula to determine divisions was 70 percent for CCL wins with added weight for wins against Blue teams, 15 percent for male enrollment and 15 percent for number of football players across all levels. Travel has been eliminated from conversations of making divisions. Realignment will be reviewed every two years.
The loss of Bishop McNamara, St. Francis and football-only member Aurora Christian to the Metro Suburban Conference in 2018-19 will drop the number of football teams from 18 to 15. There will be three divisions of five teams.
The Blue coaches were interested in spreading the Blue teams across two separate divisions to give those teams better chances to make the playoffs, Badke and Chandler said. Several coaches were in favor of North and South divisions, Badke said. The athletic directors, who were the voters, and principals wanted to keep the Blue schools together.
“The majority of the room felt the model the Blue coaches were pushing for was not parity,” Chandler said. “To just split up the Blue division was not putting our best teams in that division, which was the point of the parity model.”
Mount Carmel had the option to petition to move back up to the Blue, but declined to do so. A potential factor in that decision could be that the past four years have been Mount Carmel’s four lowest enrollments totals in the multiplier era, which began in 2005. The 2017 enrollment will be the lowest.
In other CCL sports…
Earlier this year, there were CCL changes in basketball announced for the coming season,
The athletic directors voted in the winter to realign basketball on a parity model for 2017-18 and 2018-19 and to end the CCL tournament after four years.
There will be two nine-team divisions, but with St. Francis and Bishop McNamara leaving in 2018, the divisions will be unbalanced at nine and seven teams.
“We’ll play the first year that was agreed to and in place because St. Francis and Bishop Mac will still be here” Chandler said. “With them leaving at 2018, we’re going to have0 to come up with a new schedule this year to be in effect for 2018. They could talk and decide let’s just leave it as it is for one year.”
CCL baseball teams will need to fill more non-conference games with an approved schedule for 2017-18 and 2018-19 that lessens the number of conference games.
Blue teams will play 16 conference games instead of 21, Chandler said. They’ll play every Blue team twice and only two total crossovers instead of one crossover with every White team.
Chandler said he voted against the reduction of crossovers, which leaves St. Laurence (a team that took third in the state in Class 4A in the spring) with 19 non-conference games to fill.
Soccer will be in the second year of an approved schedule for the 2017-18 school year. A schedule for 2018-19 and 2019-20 seasons had already been approved for four division of four teams, but there will be 14 teams instead of 16 starting in 2018-19 with St. Francis and Bishop McNamara’s departure.
“That’s going to have to change with losing two teams,” Chandler said. “I haven’t seen any models for that yet.”