Tuesday, December 1, 2015

The final rankings...

...are in -- wait a minute! Wasn't that all decided on the field last weekend?

Well, sort of. Except that four teams are still undefeated: Loyola, Glenbard West, Montini and Phillips. (Six, if you count 2A Tri-Valley and 1A Arcola.) While everyone (outside of Glen Ellyn) seems to think Loyola and Glenbard West are Nos. 1 and 2, it gets a little muddy after that.

Mike Helfgot at the Tribune has the four undefeateds at the very top of his list:

1. Loyola
2. Glenbard West
3. Montini
4. Phillips

Beth Long, over at the Sun-Times, sneaks a couple more teams in there, one of which had two losses:

1. Loyola
2. Glenbard West
3. Montini
4. Libertyville (13-1)
5. Homewood-Flossmoor (10-2)
6. Phillips

And, finally, MaxPreps has only one other squad, also with two losses, in the mix:

1. Loyola
2. Glenbard West
3. Nazareth (12-2)
4. Montini
5. Phillips

Michael O'Brien, at the Times, says the "Ramblers are simply the best high school football team in the state." Full stop. End of conversation, right?

But I saw Loyola defeat Mount Carmel, 49-21, and then watch Glenbard West beat the Caravan two weeks later, 7-0. Could Loyola really have beaten the Hilltoppers? I don't know.

And what about Montini? They bested a bunch of schools in higher classes: Maine South, East St. Louis, St. Rita, De La Salle and Fenwick. How would they have done against the other undefeateds?

And don't forget Phillips. They also beat Fenwick, Carmel and 8A Simeon.

So what's the answer? I'm not sure. Mike Helfgot thinks a whole new class system is needed after all the lopsided games this weekend. But maybe this year was just a fluke. As I pointed out yesterday, in the previous two years, half the games were decided by a touchdown or less. Still, Helfgot says:

The time has come for a separation, to throw out the current eight-class structure and create separate divisions for public and private schools.

His reasoning? (My emphasis.)

Private schools have a huge competitive advantage. Their enrollments are not restricted by geographical boundaries, and they actively recruit students in order to stay in business.

But Fenwick coach Gene Nudo told me almost two years ago, "We don't recruit. In fact, we can't even use the word 'recruit.' " (A few months later, a high-profile quarterback transferred to Fenwick.) Stop smirking everyone.

(Oh, and remember that kid who showed up at Wheaton Warrenville South a few years ago from Arkansas? It cuts both ways.)

So Loyola draws from outside Wilmette. So what? Don't forget, if Palatine had succeeded on that two-point conversion attempt late in the semifinal game they would have sent it into overtime and then -- who knows? -- ended up in DeKalb instead of Loyola. It was that close.

I don't pretend to have the answer for the "perfect" playoff system. I used to say -- grouchily -- that 5-4 teams shouldn't even make the postseason until my son said, "Shut up, Dad! The playoffs are for the kids and their parents. Most of these kids will never play football again and they just want to play in the postseason!" And he was right. (He usually is.) Also, not allowing 5-4 teams would lead to easier regular-season schedules. 

But if you stripped out the "privates" from the "publics" we'd still be wondering if Loyola could beat H-F, or if the Ramblers could have beaten Stevenson last year. (Or if Providence could have beaten Cary-Grove.) Or a hundred other what ifs.

The current system may not be ideal -- it still leaves that potential Loyola - Glenbard West showdown in limbo -- but it's the best they've come up with so far. (The only change I would make -- I might make -- would be to have an extra round: 8A vs. 7A, 6A vs. 5A, etc.)

But if it ain't terribly broken -- and it isn't -- don't monkey with it too much.

No comments: