Do you think the La Salle-Peru football would like to play Joliet Catholic in the playoffs?

Probably not considering the last time that happened Joliet Catholic won 56-7.

How about defending Class 6A state champion Springfield Sacred Heart Griffin?

That probably wouldn't be much better than JCA.

But both are possibilities this season due to a major change in the IHSA football postseason.

This year, for the first time, the Chicago Public League's four Chicago Divisions will be eligible for the IHSA playoffs. In the past, only the CPL's four Illini Divisions competed in the postseason.

Chicago Public School officials choose to limit the number of CPL schools that are eligible for the postseason, according to IHSA Assistant Executive Director Matt Troha.

This year, CPS officials decided to allow more of their schools into the playoffs. The three CPL Inter-City Divisions remain ineligible for the IHSA postseason.

"The Chicago Pubic Schools restrict themselves right now," Troha said. "They could have the same (playoff eligibility) as any schools in the state. They could put all their schools that qualify into the playoffs, but choose not to."

The change will allow the Chicago Public League to fill eight additional playoff spots as the top two teams in each of the four CPL Chicago Divisions will earn a playoff berth if they have the necessary number of wins.

CPL schools have historically struggled to compete, and most of the new CPL playoff teams will likely be eliminated in the first round.

Still, their addition could have a profound affect on the postseason for La Salle-Peru and several other area teams bound for the playoffs.

The additional eight teams will force other schools to move up or down in class. With 20 of the 32 newly eligible teams likely to compete in Class 5A or above, their addition will push several teams downward.

"The majority of (the new CPL schools) will probably be in the (Class) 6A to 7A range. There will also be some in 5A and 8A," Troha said. "Depending on who qualifies and where at, (the addition of CPL schools) has the potential to move some (teams) up and some down. It's no different than any other school qualifying."

This could have a negative affect on the Cavaliers (5-1), but it could positively affect other area playoff teams such as Mendota (5-1) and Amboy/LaMoille (5-1).

For the Cavaliers, it could mean competing in a Class 5A that is more stacked than usual.

Class 5A typically has powers such as Woodstock Marian Central Catholic and defending Champion Wheaton St. Francis.

Now possibly add to that Joliet Catholic, Sacred Heart Griffin, Peoria Richwoods and Oak Forest.

"I haven't even thought about it," L-P coach Joe Sassano said about the possibility of playing in Class 5A with JCA or SHG. "That kind of stuff, I don't spend too much time thinking about. Our goal is just to get a win this week, get into the playoffs and whoever we have to play, we'll play."

Amboy/LaMoille coach Gary Jones expressed a similar sentiment, but his Clippers could end up playing smaller schools than they have played in past postseasons.

The Clippers have been in the Class 3A playoffs every year since 2003, including trips to the quarterfinals in 2006 and 2007. Amboy played in the Class 2A postseason in 2002 prior to becoming a co-op with LaMoille.

But in Monday's playoff outlook on the IHSA Web site, the Clippers are listed in Class 2A. Of the 54 teams listed in Class 2A that still have a shot at the playoffs with a record of 2-4 or better, 10 have larger enrollments than Amboy/LaMoille.

"I don't know if it's an advantage," Jones said of moving down a class. "Once you get to the playoffs everybody is good. Some people might say (it's an advantage) playing smaller schools, but there are very good schools in 2A that would do well in 3A. I don't think you can draw that conclusion (that it would be easier in 2A)."

Mendota could be in the same boat as it is listed in Class 3A in this week's playoff outlook after playing in the Class 4A postseason in each of the last three seasons.

The Trojans, however, are one of the larger teams in Class 3A as only two schools in the Class 3A playoff outlook have larger enrollments.

A drop down to Class 3A could be beneficial for the Trojans as Class 4A appears to be loaded this year with several state powers dropping down from Class 5A.

Class 4A already had defending state champion Bloomington Central Catholic and traditional powers Geneseo, Plano and Quincy Notre Dame. This year, Metamora, Morris, Lombard Montini and Washington could possibly play in Class 4A.

Hall could be affected as well if the Red Devils manage to win two more games to become playoff eligible.

Hall, typically a Class 3A playoff team, is listed as the fourth largest school in Class 2A.

As the season winds down and coaches, players and fans try to figure out where their teams may land, the playoff picture is more muddied than ever with additional teams in the mix.

It will be interesting to see how it all shakes out come Oct. 24 when the IHSA announces the playoff pairings.

Kevin Chlum is a NewsTribune sports writer. He can be reached at 223-3200, ext. 138, or at sports@newstrib.com.

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