Those who consider the Catholic League the state’s premier football conference now have an even better argument.
The 100-year-old conference isn’t standing pat in its second century, confirming on Monday the addition for football of five current Suburban Christian Conference members — including defending state champs Montini (Class 5A) and Aurora Christian (3A).
Those schools were left looking for a new home after seven other SCC teams left to join the Metro Suburban Conference earlier this spring.
The new Catholic League football alignment, which takes effect for the 2014 season, will have four divisions, up from the current three.
The Catholic League Blue lineup will be unchanged: Brother Rice, Loyola, defending 8A champ Mount Carmel, Providence and St. Rita. Four SCC schools — Marian Central, Marmion, Montini and St. Francis — will join current White member Fenwick in the new Catholic League Green.
The White will include holdovers Bishop McNamara, De La Salle and St. Laurence along with Aurora Christian from the SCC and St. Ignatius, up from the Red. And the Red will be made up of current members Gordon Tech, Hales, Leo and St. Joseph along with Lake Forest Academy, which is now in the White.
“It’s a relief for most of our schools and our [current] conference,” said Montini coach Chris Andriano, whose team has won the past four Class 5A titles. “You don’t have to worry about scheduling out-of-state games. … It really is a win-win for us.”
Each team will play four division games and three crossover games — one against a team from each of the other divisions. That will leave schools to schedule true nonconference games in Weeks 1 and 2 of the season.
“I think it’s going to be a good thing for everybody,” said St. Ignatius athletic director and Catholic League president Jim Prunty. “Everybody has a chance to win five games to get to the [IHSA] playoffs.”
The new Catholic League will feature 12 schools that have won state football titles, including every member of the Blue. The others are Aurora Christian, Bishop McNamara, Gordon Tech, Marian Central, Montini, St. Francis and St. Laurence.
The SCC schools also will join the Catholic League for soccer, but division alignments have not been set. They also may compete in the conference in other sports such as cross country, track and field, and wrestling, though that is not a done deal yet, according to Prunty.