CHAMPAIGN — Once again, the Morris Redskins football team is a public-school state champion.
It's little solace, I realize. Also, along with that statement is the realization that there is no such title, but I'm going to go with it anyway.
Since the IHSA will not, or can not, force public schools into their own division, perhaps it should consider giving out such hardware. Especially in Class 5A and specifically for football.
Here's why I say this.
In the last 14 years, the IHSA Class 5A title has been won by a private school — ones that are most certainly recruiting its football players from far and wide. The only year that was an exception to the rule was 2007, when Metamora beat Morris 17-14 for the championship.
Going back even further in 5A, 18 of the last 23 champions have been private schools. The four other public school champions in that time, other than Metamora, were Wheaton Warrenville South (1992), Belvidere (1993), Maine South (1995) and Woodstock (1997).
Some of those years, a public-school champion hasn't even been crowned. In 12 of the last 23 years, the team that was runner-up was also a private school. That includes one year ago when Montini beat Joliet Catholic Academy (70-45) and three years ago when Montini beat JCA (29-28). In between, Chathan Glenwood was the public school champion after losing to Montini in 2010 (34-21).
Here are the public co-ed school state champions (working backwards) going to 1989.
2010 — Glenwood (lost to Montini)
2008 — Metamora (lost to St. Francis)
2007 - Metamora (beat Morris)
2004 — Morris (lost to JCA)
2002 — Pontiac (lost to Providence)
2001 — Morris (lost to JCA)
1997 — Woodstock (beat Rock Island)
1995 — Maine South (beat Mt. Carmel)
1994 — Palatine (lost to Providence)
1993 — Belvidere (beat Bolingbrook)
1992 — Wheaton Warrenville South (beat JCA)
1991 — Wheaton Central (lost to Mt. Carmel)
1990 — Wheaton Central (lost to Mt. Carmel)
Just three times since 1989 have two public teams played for the title. Of course, Metamora vs. Morris in 2007 is one. Woodstock vs. Rock Island in 1997 and Belvidere vs. Bolingbrook in 1993 are the others.
The bottom line is that much of that success has to do with recruiting players. Anyone who would deny that is crazy. There is no doubt that coaches like Chris Andriano of Montini and Dan Sharp at JCA are good coaches. Put a good coach at a private school and they will have a winner on their hands.
I'm simply isolating Class 5A here, too. While it has changed a bit in Class 4A in recent years, it is still littered with private-school titles. Not counting this year, 13 of the last 17 champions in 4A are private schools.
Many public school ADs that I've spoken with about this agree that the private schools need their own classification, just like they do in Texas. However, almost to a man, they all agree that it will probably never happen.
Maybe the answer is to take a different approach to the situation. Why not let public schools recruit the same as the private schools do?
Well, why not? Then we'd have a level playing field — at least when it comes to playing football on the turf in a true championship.