It’s not often that you see a team, in any sport, win eight straight games and lose in the first round of the playoffs. But that’s exactly what happened to our Payton Grizzlies football team this past November. Moreover, the Grizzlies were a number three seed and ranked in the top 10 in their class. Despite playing one of the lowest seeds in the 4A Conference, the Grizzlies were destroyed, losing 60-18. To put this in perspective, the Grizzlies let up more points in the state playoff game than they did in their past six games combined.
How were the Grizzlies crushed? Was it a devastating upset? By just looking at records, many would believe so, seeing as the 5-4 Rochelle Hubs just barely made the playoffs. However, in the five years previous to this year’s playoffs (the only years that Chicago conference teams were allowed in the state playoffs), Chicago conference teams are a whopping 0-40, and there was no difference this past year. Of the seven Chicago conference teams that made the playoffs, none of them won their State playoff games, or came even close, letting up a grand total of 421 points. The closest game was Whitney vs. Downers Grove, who lost 28-0. To put this in perspective, the 9-0 Whitney Young Dolphins’ defense let up only 46 points all year, while putting up 343.
So why do Chicago teams put up these dismal numbers? Football in the suburbs isn’t just taken much more seriously than in the city; their lives revolve around it. Football players are bred, scouted, and recruited at a young age for most of the suburban and downstate teams.
Not only does Chicago not care enough to do this, but it is illegal for public school football teams to recruit younger kids, giving the city teams a huge disadvantage.It’s the same as ranking the test scores of a neighborhood and selective enrollment school: there’s no comparison.
Because of this, we must accept the unfortunate truth that despite Illini Conference teams with football powerhouses, such as Phillips and Simeon, have the ability to go relatively deep in the playoffs year in and year out, most teams from the Chicago Public League, including all of those from the Chicago Conference, have little chance at beating Goliaths from downstate.