Eight Public League teams have lost the chance to advance to the Illinois High School Association’s state football playoffs after Chicago Public Schools canceled classes for Thursday due to the ongoing Chicago Teachers Union strike.
Back of the Yards, Chicago Military-Bronzeville, King, Phoenix, Simeon, Solorio, Vocational and Young are the teams impacted.
“It’s very emotional and disheartening,” Simeon coach Dante Culbreath said. “These kids work so hard. To lose a game is one thing. To be caught up in this is a totally different thing. I’m getting calls from emotional kids.”
According to IHSA strike bylaws, if football practices have been terminated for seven days (excluding Sundays) a team may not resume competition until after three days of practice. The teams cannot practice if there is no school. Thursday will be the seventh day the teams have missed practice, so that rule kicks in.
The eight teams won’t have time to get the three practices in and play a game before the state playoffs are seeded by the IHSA on Saturday afternoon. A spokesperson for the IHSA confirmed that situation on Wednesday.
Simeon, Chicago Military-Bronzeville and Phoenix will all be short of the eight games played that are necessary to qualify for the playoffs.
“This was the first year most of my team has played football,” Bronzeville coach Lorenzo Johnson said. “To be on the verge of making the playoffs for the first time in school history was a major accomplishment on its own. So it is hard to swallow right now. They are disappointed.”
Back of the Yards, King, Solorio, Vocational and Young are all 4-4 and needed one more win to likely guarantee a spot in the state playoffs. Without the fifth win none are likely to have enough playoff points to make the field as a four-win team.
“It’s a little heartbreaking to say the least,” Bobcats coach Martin Quiroga said. “Especially for my seniors. As frustrated as they are, they kind of understand both sides.”
Simeon (6-1), ranked No. 13 in the Super 25, is the best team in the Public League. The Wolverines beat Phillips earlier this month and are ranked third in the state in Class 6A by the Associated Press. Simeon’s scheduled Week 2 game against an out-of-state team fell through, leaving them a game short now.
The Wolverines’ season also came to a controversial end last season when the Simeon Alumni Association and the parents of several players sued the IHSA.
“I just wish there was a way for people to understand what these kids are going through,” Culbreath said. “They work so hard. It’s unfortunate there isn’t anyway to make and exception. I got emotional reading about the soccer teams that lost their postseason earlier this week.”
Ten Public League teams have clinched a state playoff berth by winning six games: Ag. Science, Amundsen, Carver, Dunbar, Harlan, Kenwood, Mather, Orr, Payton, Phillips.
Five-win teams are eligible for the playoffs if they have enough playoff points (total number of wins by opponents). Lincoln Park, Taft and Curie likely have enough playoff points to qualify.
Clark, Hyde Park, Marine, Morgan Park and Sullivan have all won five games and will now be forced to wait and see if they have enough playoff points without playing a Week 9 game to get into the field.
The next important date for Public League football teams is Oct. 29. In order to play in first-round playoff games on Nov. 2 the teams would have to practice on Oct. 30, Oct. 31 and Nov. 1 to be in compliance with the IHSA’s football practice rules.
The next fall sport to possibly be impacted by the strike is cross country. Boys and girls runners could miss out on the state meets if the strike drags on. Cross country regionals begin Oct. 26.