Preps Talk

Edgy: Should IHSA play postseason games on neutral fields?

edgy-tim-thoughts-on-ihsa-neutral-fields-slide.png

Edgy: Should IHSA play postseason games on neutral fields?

Last week, I was talking to a few of the Rivals.com publishers from across the county and the subject of high school football playoffs came up.

One of the more surprising revelations that we discovered about the IHSA football playoffs is that we (Illinois) hold 'only' our state final games on a neutral site.

In several states across the country, it's commonplace to hold semifinal — and even quarterfinal — state playoff games on a neutral site.

The publishers mentioned several factors on why other states move these all important state playoffs games to neutral sites, such as avoiding field conditions (mainly related to grass fields and poor weather), better fan accommodations (small seating), and it some cases, it limits the overall travel times for teams. 

Could we ever see the day where the IHSA semifinal games are played at various neutral sites across the state?

[RELATED - High School Lites Preview: IHSA Playoffs Round 2]

How about say an 8A semifinal game at Toyota Park? Or seeing some pre-championship semifinal at Illinois State, SIU, WIU, EIU or even at some of the smaller college facilities such as North Central College in downtown Naperville? 

It could be fun, right? Play, maybe, two semifinal games back-to-back at a neutral site?

Several factors involved with playing those IHSA playoff games at neutral sites include: more costs, more time spent on scheduling and more organization. 

But the biggest issue in our talk of playing on a neutral field? The high school coaches. 

Talk to any head coach in the state playoffs. Ask them about the potential of giving up a home game. In the large majority of cases you'll hear a resounding "no."

I've wondered for years what the real importance of home field advantage is at the high school football level.  After bringing up the subject of playing on a neutral field this week to several high school coaches, I think I found out just how important home field can be.

97 Days to Kickoff: Back of the Yards

97 Days to Kickoff: Back of the Yards

NBCSportsChicago.com preps reporter "Edgy" Tim O’Halloran spotlights 100 high school football teams in 100 days. The first 75 team profiles will focus on teams making strides across Chicagoland and elsewhere in the state. Starting July 30, we’ll unveil the @NBCSPreps Top 25 Power Rankings, leading up to kickoff on Friday, Aug. 24.

School: Back of the Yards

Head coach: Sheamus Murphy

Assistant Coaches: Will Johnson, Marty McNamara, Tim McNamara and Nick Teich

How they fared in 2017: 8-2 (6-0 CPL Great Lakes Conference). Back of the Yards made the Class 5A state playoff field. They lost to Solorio in opening round action. 

2018 Regular Season Schedule:

Week 1: @ Kelly

Week 2: vs. Goode

Week 3: @ Brooks

Week 4: vs. Schurz

Week 5: vs. Kenwood

Week 6: vs. North Lawndale

Week 7: @ Steinmetz

Week 8: vs. Payton Prep

Week 9: @ Clark

Biggest storyline: The Bobcats were a true feel-good story last season. Can the Bobcats build on its momentum and success going into the 2018 campaign?

Names to watch this season: OL/Dl Kevin Pacheco, WR/DB Carl McNickles, OL Armando Resendiz

Biggest holes to fill: The Bobcats bring back several returning starters from last season; however, can they find a new signal caller to replace the graduation loss of 2017 standout QB Jeremiah Harris (McKendree College)? 

EDGY's Early Take: One of the top stories from the 2017 season was the rise of this young program. The Bobcats made the IHSA state playoff field in just their third season of varsity football. As for 2018? The expectations have risen for this South Side school. A move to the CPL Illini Prairie State conference ramps up the overall competition level. If the Bobcats can find a steady signal caller, they have solid chance at competing for a potential IHSA state playoff spot come October. 

98 Days to Kickoff: Eisenhower

98 Days to Kickoff: Eisenhower

NBCSportsChicago.com preps reporter "Edgy" Tim O’Halloran spotlights 100 high school football teams in 100 days. The first 75 team profiles will focus on teams making strides across Chicagoland and elsewhere in the state. Starting July 30, we’ll unveil the @NBCSPreps Top 25 Power Rankings, leading up to kickoff on Friday, Aug. 24.

School: Eisenhower

Head coach: Travis Moore

Assistant coaches: Vince Holmes, Justin Harris, Billy Viero, Mike Russell, Jeremey Rodrigues, Joe Groff and Terrance Streater

How they fared in 2017: 6-4 (3-3 South Suburban Red Conference), Eisenhower made the Class 6A state playoff field. The Cardinals lost to Normal West in opening round action. 

2018 Regular Season Schedule:

Aug. 24 vs. Rich South

Aug. 31 vs. Bishop McNamara

Sept 7 @ Reavis

Sept. 14 vs. Shepard

Sept. 21 @ Oak Forest

Sept. 28 @ Evergreen Park

Oct. 5 @ Oak Lawn

Oct. 12 vs. Argo

Oct. 19 vs. Richards

Biggest storyline: The new faces. The Cardinals graduated a whopping 21 starters from a season ago. Can head coach Travis Moore rely on his juniors to step up this fall?

Name to watch this season: WR Daylen Wilson

Biggest holes to fill: The Cardinals graduated 10 starters on offense and all 11 starters on defense from their playoff team last season. 

EDGY's Early Take: Coach Moore and his staff have done a great job in leading the Cardinals to the playoffs in two of the past three seasons. However, with just one returning starter back, this will undoubtedly be a young and inexperienced team this fall. They will need to find their A-game in a hurry against a front-loaded schedule.