The Aurora Christian football program’s days of wreaking havoc on the IHSA Class 3A playoff draw are through, at least for the time being.
As part of the IHSA’s new “Success Advancement Component,” which will bump up some non boundaried schools in the state series classification system based on hitting various postseason success benchmarks, the Eagles will be a Class 4A team, effective the 2014 season.
Aurora Christian athletic director Dan Beebe is leery of future Eagles teams paying a postseason price for the success of their predecessors. The Eagles narrowly lost in the 3A state semifinals last season after winning state championships in 2011 and 2012.
“We had back-to-back very strong classes, two years ago and then last year’s graduating class,” Beebe said. “We had a very good team that put together a pretty good streak there with back-to-back state championships. Unfortunately, for the next four years our kids that are coming up are going to have to deal with the repercussions of that. I think the biggest thing is it’s sad and disheartening that as a country as a whole we’re wanting to punish success.”
Aurora Christian has some 4A playoff history, having advanced to the 4A state championship game in 2008 when it lost to Bloomington Central Catholic.
That’s not the only reason the Eagles shouldn’t be intimidated by a potential 4A playoff draw. Aurora Christian regularly has faced larger schools during the regular season in the Suburban Christian Conference and will continue to do so going forward in its new conference, the Chicago Catholic League.
Still, the Eagles use many more two-way players than most of those larger schools, and depth can become increasingly important come November. Last year’s Aurora Christian team lost several key starters to injury during the course of the season.
“In sitting in the IHSA’s seat, that would be a concern of mine, if you have school of 300 playing schools of 1,200, and there are injuries involved,” Beebe said. “But we do that during the regular season, too.”
It will be a year of transition for Aurora Christian football in many ways. Beebe’s two brothers – Don and Dave – are switching roles, with Dave Beebe having been named the program’s new head coach and Don Beebe expected to guide the offense as an assistant.
While his school’s football program projects to face a more challenging postseason path, the new IHSA policy – announced Wednesday – would no longer multiply private schools’ enrollments for sports in which the school has not attained four points (schools will accrue one point for a regional title, two points for a sectional title) in a four-year span.
“If you haven’t won a regional or a sectional the multiplier actually wouldn’t be there for us,” Beebe said. “So I know the IHSA is trying to do the fairest thing for their membership, and we’re perfectly OK with it.”
Conference crunch time: Beebe said “a lot will come out in the next four to six weeks” regarding the future of SCC schools in sports other than football and soccer, which will move to the Chicago Catholic League next year.
Marian Central’s announced departure for the East Suburban Catholic League disrupted the notion that the SCC’s remaining schools – also including Aurora Christian, Marmion, Rosary, Montini and St. Francis – could stick together in the aftermath of much of the conference bolting for the Metro Suburban next year.
“We’d obviously love to stay with all the SCC schools,” Beebe said. “We’re not sure what that looks like or if it’s even an option for all of us at this point, but that would be our best option.”
Play ball: Aurora Christian will field a softball team again this spring, Beebe confirmed. The Eagles have had a softball program in the past but did not have a team in 2013 because of insufficient participation.
The Eagles will still be guided by former coach Rich Hazlett.
• Jay Schwab is sports editor of the Kane County Chronicle. He can be reached at 630-845-5382 or firstname.lastname@example.org.