There are a lot of unknowns about the districts coming to IHSA football in 2021, but this exercise will attempt to give an idea of what the district format could look like.
Before we get to the projection, let's go through some basics on how this projection was compiled:
• This uses the recently released IHSA enrollments for schools for the 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 athletic seasons. Teams were then divided into classifications.
• Teams that played in 11-man football last season and have already declared that they plan to move to 8-man football were removed from this projection. In addition, the 36 teams that played football in the Chicago Public League but were excluded from playoff qualification were also excluded from this exercise.
• There are 15 teams that will face the nonboundaried multiplier in the next two-year enrollment packet and those schools enrollments were adjusted accordingly. The three success-formula schools (Loyola, Nazareth and IC Catholic) were also adjusted. The two schools that have chosen to play up, Phillips in Class 6A and East St. Louis in Class 7A were kept in those respective classes. Of note, if East St. Louis decides not to continue to “play up,” it has a wide sweeping effect on the Class 7A map.
• This left the number of playoff eligible teams slightly over the 512-team field, and since no modification is known for how the field will be reduced to 512 (or if it will be at all), additional teams were placed in each class until the field accommodated all teams currently eligible for the IHSA Playoffs.
CLASS 8A (64 teams, 8 Districts)
District 1 (8 Teams): Barrington, Carpentersville (Dundee-Crown), Gurnee (Warren), Huntley, Lincolnshire (Stevenson), McHenry, Waukegan, Zion-Benton.
District 2 (8): Evanston, Glenview (Glenbrook South), Niles (Notre Dame), Palatine, Park Ridge (Maine South), Skokie (Niles West), Wilmette (Loyola), Winnetka (New Trier).
District 3 (8): Bartlett, Carol Stream (Glenbard North), Elgin, Hoffman Estates (Conant), Palatine (Fremd), Roselle (Lake Park), St. Charles (East), South Elgin.
District 4 (8): Aurora (Metea Valley), Aurora (West), Downers Grove (South), Elmhurst (York), Glen Ellyn (Glenbard West), Lombard (Glenbard East), Naperville (Central), Naperville (North).
District 5 (8): Berwyn-Cicero (Morton), Chicago (Taft), Chicago (Lane), Franklin Park (Leyden), Hinsdale (Central), Hillside (Proviso West), LaGrange (Lyons), Oak Park (River Forest).
District 6 (8): Aurora (East), Aurora (Waubonsie Valley), Bolingbrook, Naperville (Neuqua Valley), Oswego, Oswego (East), Plainfield (East), Plainfield (North).
District 7 (8): Chicago (Brother Rice), Chicago (Curie), Chicago (Marist), Chicago Heights (Bloom), Frankfort (Lincoln-Way East), Homewood-Flossmoor, Orland Park (Sandburg), Palos Hills (Stagg).
District 8 (8): Belleville (East), Edwardsville, Joliet (Central), Joliet (West), Lockport, Minooka, O’Fallon, Plainfield (South).
Smallest schools in the Classification (closest to being in 7A): Proviso West, McHenry, Glenbard North, Plainfield East, Glenbard East.
Mapping issues: The three St. Louis-area teams need five other partners to make up a district of eight teams. The teams closest, although it seems almost comical to use the word closest, seem to largely come from the Joliet area with Minooka as the strongest possibility to draw the short straw. Schools like Huntley could be placed in a different district because of its general proximity to multiple districts. Splitting the two Palatine schools seems counterintuitive until you start to count schools in a congested area. This is the class where the distinctions are harder to make because of the higher concentrations of teams in Chicagoland. I feel good about the groups I’ve created here as far as geographic proximity, but it is easy to see how the districts could be manipulated in different directions.
CLASS 7A (64 teams, 8 Districts)
District 1 (8 teams): Algonquin (Jacobs), DeKalb, Machesney Park (Harlem), Moline, Rockford (Auburn), Rockford (East), Rockton (Hononegah), Yorkville.
District 2 (8): Buffalo Grove, Fox Lake (Grant), Highland Park, Lake Zurich, Libertyville, Mundelein, Northbrook (Glenbrook North), Round Lake.
District 3 (8): Arlington Heights (Hersey), Chicago (Lincoln Park), Chicago (Schurz), Des Plaines (Maine West), Maywood (Proviso East), Mount Prospect, Park Ridge (Maine East), Skokie (Niles North).
District 4 (8): Addison (Trail), Elgin (Larkin), Elk Grove Village, Hoffman Estates, Rolling Meadows, St. Charles (North), Schaumburg, Streamwood.
District 5 (8): Batavia, Downers Grove North, Geneva, Lisle (Benet), Villa Park (Willowbrook), West Chicago, Wheaton (North), Wheaton (Warrenville South).
District 6 (8): Blue Island (Eisenhower), Burbank (Reavis), Chicago (Hubbard), Chicago (Mount Carmel), Harvey (Thornton), LaGrange Park (Nazareth), Oak Lawn (Community), Summit (Argo).
District 7 (8): Bradley-Bourbonnais, Lansing (T.F. South), New Lenox (Lincoln-Way Central), New Lenox (Lincoln-Way West), Plainfield (Central), Romeoville, South Holland (Thornwood), Tinley Park (Andrew).
District 8 (8): Alton, Belleville (West), Collinsville, East St. Louis, Granite City, Normal (Community), Pekin, Quincy.
Largest schools in the classification (closest to being in 8A): Downers Grove North, Benet, Prospect, Lincoln-Way Central, Jacobs.
Smallest schools in the classification (closest to being in 6A): Thornwood, Yorkville, Hubbard, Schurz, Oak Lawn Community.
Mapping issues: There are several. Moline is a real issue as they aren’t particularly close to any of the potential districts and anywhere they land increases the mileage for the other seven school in whatever district they are placed in. Yorkville is another team that isn’t easily placed. They reside relatively close to nearly all the districts but are far enough away where it is logical to see them in any one of about five districts when you really dig in.
CLASS 6A (64 teams, 8 Districts)
District 1 (8 teams): Antioch, Grayslake (Central), Grayslake (North), Lake Forest, Lake Villa (Lakes), Mundelein (Carmel), Vernon Hills, Wauconda.
District 2 (8): Belvidere, Belvidere (North), Cary-Grove, Crystal Lake (Central), Crystal Lake (Prairie Ridge), Crystal Lake (South), Rockford (Guliford), Rockford (Jefferson).
District 3 (8): Bensenville (Fenton), Chicago (Lake View), Chicago (Mather), Chicago (Senn), Chicago (Von Steuben), Deerfield, Hampshire, Wheeling.
District 4 (8): Chicago (Phillips), Chicago (Phoenix), Chicago (St. Ignatius), Chicago (St. Patrick), Chicago (Steinmetz), Maple Park (Kaneland), Riverside-Brookfield, Sycamore.
District 5 (8): Chicago (Kenwood), Chicago (Morgan Park), Chicago (Perspectives Leadership), Chicago (Simeon), Chicago (Washington), Darien (Hinsdale South), Lemont, Oak Lawn (Richards).
District 6 (8): Calumet City (T.F. North), Crete-Monee, Kankakee, Midlothian (Bremen), New Lenox (Providence), Oak Forest, Ottawa, Palos Heights (Shepard).
District 7 (8): Dunlap, East Moline (United), Galesburg, Normal (Community West), Peoria, Peoria (Richwoods), Rock Island, Washington.
District 8 (8): Bloomington, Champaign (Centennial), Champaign (Central), Chatham (Glenwood), Danville, Springfield, Springfield (Lanphier), Springfield (Southeast).
Largest schools in the classification (closest to being in 7A): Shepard, Rockford Guilford, Von Steuben, Wheeling, Cary-Grove.
Smallest schools in the classification (closest to being in 5A): Kankakee, Springfield Southeast, Springfield Lanphier, Sycamore, Morgan Park.
Mapping issues: The breaks are reasonably clear, but some wrinkles could definitely come into play if the IHSA decides to do something different with outliers like Sycamore and Kaneland. Wauconda’s placement is also tricky. Although on paper it doesn’t look right to separate Bloomington and Normal Community West, the eighth school has to come from somewhere to round out the District 8 grouping.
CLASS 5A (65 teams, 8 Districts)
District 1 (8 teams): Arlington Heights (St. Viator), Burlington (Central), Freeport, Rochelle, Rockford (Boylan), Sterling, Woodstock, Woodstock (North).
District 2 (8): Aurora (Marmion), Chicago (Amundsen), Chicago (Foreman), Elmwood Park, Glen Ellyn (Glenbard South), Lombard (Montini), Norridge (Ridgewood), Oak Park (Fenwick).
District 3 (8): Burbank (St. Laurence), Chicago (Back of the Yards), Chicago (De La Salle), Chicago (Goode), Chicago (Lindblom), Chicago (Payton), Chicago (Solorio Academy), Chicago (Westinghouse).
District 4 (8): Chicago (Brooks), Chicago (Hyde Park), Chicago (St. Rita), Chicago (Vocational), Country Club Hills (Hillcrest), Dolton (Thornridge), Evergreen Park, Tinley Park.
District 5 (8): Chicago Heights (Marian Catholic), Joliet Catholic, LaSalle-Peru, Morris, Olympia Fields (Rich Central), Park Forest (Rich East), Richton Park (Rich South), Streator.
District 6 (8): Bartonville (Limestone), East Peoria, Geneseo, Mahomet-Seymour, Metamora, Morton, Peoria (Notre Dame), Urbana.
District 7 (8): Charleston, Decatur (Eisenhower), Decatur (MacArthur), Jacksonville, Jerseyville (Jersey), Lincoln, Mattoon, Springfield (Sacred Heart-Griffin).
District 8 (9): Cahokia, Carbondale, Centralia, Highland, Marion, Mascoutah, Mount Vernon, Troy (Triad), Waterloo.
Largest schools in the classification (closest to being in 6A): LaSalle-Peru, Amundsen, Thornridge, Fenwick, Freeport.
Smallest schools in the classification (closest to being in 4A): Peoria (Notre Dame), Hyde Park, Charleston, Foreman, Geneseo.
Mapping issues: Geneseo is tricky. And it might be a stretch to put it in District 6, but it is closer on the whole to the majority of the teams in that district, despite the fact that it is farther north than Streator, which was placed in District 5. Splitting teams between District 3 and District 4 is a fine line as well and those teams could easily be distributed in a different way.
CLASS 4A (65 teams, 8 Districts)
District 1 (9 teams): Dixon, Genoa-Kingston, Harvard, Johnsburg, Marengo, Richmond-Burton, Rock Falls, Stillman Valley, Woodstock (Marian).
District 2 (8): Aurora (Central Catholic), Chicago (Clemente), Chicago (Marine), Chicago (Sullivan), Elmhurst (IC Catholic), North Chicago, West Chicago (Wheaton Academy), Wheaton (St. Francis).
District 3 (8): Chicago (Agricultural Science), Chicago (Julian), Chicago (King), Chicago (Military Academy/Bronzeville), Chicago (North Lawndale Charter), Chicago (South Shore), Chicago (Urban Prep/Bronzeville), Chicago (Urban Prep/Englewood).
District 4 (8): Coal City, Herscher, Kankakee (Bishop McNamara), Manteno, Mendota, Plano, Pontiac, Sandwich.
District 5 (8): Canton, Chillicothe (Illinois Valley Central), Havana, Kewanee, Macomb, Peoria (Manual), Rochester, Stanford (Olympia).
District 6 (8): Clinton, Fairbury (Prairie Central), Hoopeston, Mount Zion, Normal (University), Paris, Rantoul, Tolono (Unity).
District 7 (8): Bethalto (Civic Memorial), Breese (Central), Columbia, Effingham, Freeburg, Roxana, Taylorville, Wood River (East Alton).
District 8 (8): Benton, Carterville, Herrin, Metropolis (Massac County), Murphysboro, Olney (East Richland), Salem, Vienna.
Largest schools in the classification (closest to being in 5A): Mount Zion, Rochester, Taylorville, Bethalto Civic Memorial, Rantoul.
Smallest schools in the classification (closest to being in 3A): Herscher, Tolono Unity, Roxana, Wood River (East Alton), Mendota.
Mapping issues: Rochester is a bit of a wild card. Not only is the Class 4A powerhouse teetering on the brink of potentially being in the Class 5A grouping, it could easily be placed in District 5, District 6 or District 7 depending on how the lines are drawn.
CLASS 3A (65 teams, 8 Districts)
District 1 (8 teams): Byron, Erie, Oregon, Pecatonica, Poplar Grove (North Boone), Rock Island (Alleman), Sherrard, Winnebago.
District 2 (8): Chicago (Clark), Chicago (Collins), Chicago (DePaul Prep), Chicago (Dunbar), Chicago (Harlan), Chicago (Urban Prep/West), Lisle, Westmont.
District 3 (8): Braidwood (Reed-Custer), Dwight, Seneca, Spring Valley (Hall), Peotone, Princeton, Varna (Midland), Wilmington.
District 4 (8): Beardstown, Elmwood, Eureka, Farnington, Monmouth, Oneida (ROWVA), Peoria Heights, Petersburg (PORTA).
District 5 (8): Carlinville, New Berlin, Pleasant Plains, Pittsfield, Quincy (Notre Dame), Riverton, Virden (North Mac), Williamsville.
District 6 (8): Marshall, Monticello, Newton, Pana, Paxton, Robinson, St. Joseph (Ogden), Sullivan.
District 7 (8): Alton (Marquette), Breese (Mater Dei), Greenville, Hillsboro, Litchfield, Piasa (Southwestern), Staunton, Vandalia.
District 8 (9): Anna-Jonesboro, Christopher, DuQuoin, Fairfield, Harrisburg, Mt. Carmel, Nashville, Pinckneyville, West Frankfort.
Largest schools in the classification (closest to being in 4A): Harrisburg, Clark, Greenville, Monmouth, Princeton.
Smallest schools in the classification (closest to being in 2A): Pana, Marshall, Nashville, Christopher, Quincy (Notre Dame).
Mapping issues: Quincy Notre Dame is the trickiest team to place. There are numerous districts it could be placed in because it is a geographic outlier in pretty much any district it could be placed in.
CLASS 2A (65 teams, 8 Districts)
District 1 (8): Chicago (Christ the King), Chicago (Marshall), Chicago (Orr), Chicago (Raby), Elgin (St. Edward), Palos Heights (Chicago Christian), River Grove (Guerin), Westchester (St. Joseph).
District 2 (9): Amboy, Lanark (Eastland), Manilus (Bureau Valley), Orion, Port Byron (Riverdale), Rockford (Christian), Rockford (Lutheran), Savanna (West Carroll), Sterling (Newman Central Catholic).
District 3 (8): Bloomington (Central Catholic), Clifton (Central), Downs (Tri-Valley), El Paso-Gridley, Gibson City-Melvin Sibley, Minonk (Fieldcrest), Momence, Watseka.
District 4 (8): Aledo (Mercer County), Carthage (Illini West), Hamilton (West Hancock), Knoxville, Mackinaw (Deer Creek), Sciota (West Prairie), Taylor Ridge (Rockridge), Tremont.
District 5 (8): Auburn, Decatur (St. Teresa), Jacksonville (Routt), Maroa-Forsyth, Mendon (Unity), Niantic (Sangamon Valley), Pawnee, Rushville.
District 6 (8): Arthur, Bismarck-Henning, Decatur (Lutheran), Fithian (Oakwood), Georgetown (Ridge Farm), Tuscola, Villa Grove, Westville.
District 7 (8): Belleville (Althoff), Carlyle, Flora, Gillespie, Lawrenceville, Oblong, Shelbyville, Trenton (Wesclin).
District 8 (8): Carmi (White County), Chester, Eldorado, Johnston City, McLeansboro (Hamilton County), Red Bud, Sesser-Valier, Sparta.
Largest schools in the classification (closest to being in 3A): Decatur St. Teresa, Raby, Auburn, Mercer County, Westville.
Smallest schools in the classification (closest to being in 1A): Arthur, Georgetown-Ridge Farm, Fithian (Oakwood), Tuscola, Tremont.
Mapping issues: The lines are relatively clear, but the area around Decatur will likely require a razor thin split to decide which teams go in District 5 and which ones go in District 6.
CLASS 1A (65 teams, 8 Districts)
District 1 (8 teams): Dakota, East Dubuque, Forreston, Freeport (Aquin), Galena, Lena-Winslow, Orangeville, Stockton.
District 2 (8): Ashton (Franklin Center), Aurora (Christian), Chicago (Hope Academy), Chicago (Leo), Kirkland (Hiawatha), Melrose Park (Walther Lutheran), Ottawa Marquette, South Beloit.
District 3 (8): Cambridge, Fulton, Kewanee (Wethersfield), Milledgeville, Morrison, Peru (St. Bede), Princeville, Toulon (Stark County).
District 4 (8): Abingdon, Astoria (South Fulton), Biggsville (West Central), Camp Point (Central), Concord (Triopia), Lewistown, Monmouth (United), Mount Sterling (Brown County).
District 5 (8): Catlin (Salt Fork), Champaign (St. Thomas More), Colfax (Ridgeview), Farmer City (Blue Ridge), Fisher, Gilman (Iroquois West), Heyworth, LeRoy.
District 6 (8): Athens, Greenfield, Kincaid (South Fork), Macon (Meridian), Moweaqua (Central A&M), Nokomis, Warrensburg-Latham, Winchester (West Central).
District 7 (9): Albion (Edwards County), Arcola, Argenta-Oreana, Bridgeport (Red Hill), Casey-Westfield, Cerro Gordo, Martinsville, Oakland (Tri-County), Toledo (Cumberland).
District 8 (8): Bunker Hill, Carrollton, Dupo, Edwardsville (Metro East Lutheran), Hardin (Calhoun), Madison, Pleasant Hill, White Hall (North Greene).
Largest schools in the classification (closest to being in 2A): Athens, Colfax (Ridgeview), Warrensburg-Latham, Fulton, Iroquois West.
Mapping issues: Class 1A is historically the most difficult class to map because the schools are often concentrated in groups of larger than eight in pockets around the state, which makes districts of exactly eight teams nearly an impossible task to project, particularly in the western part of the state.