October 20, 2021

Friday Night Drive's conference countdown: 40-31

As we pass over the half way point of our countdown, you might start to notice that the impact of one powerhouse program can carry a conference pretty far in these rankings.

But they can't carry them all the way up the chart.

Several conferences that rank between 31 and 40 feature individual programs that score very highly on an individual scale (individual teams were scored on a system from 1 to 33 with the highest ranking individual team accounting for that 33). Conferences in this range often have one program that scores at a range of 15 or higher, an exclusive club that features less than 40 programs in the state.

But without a program somewhere close to that effectiveness, conference domination is hard to achieve in this scoring system.

Here's a closer look at conferences 40 through 31:

40. South Seven (Decade rating: 59.165): Belleville Althoff has powered most of this league's success ratio with a big string of success in the middle of the decade. Cahokia, Marion and Carbondale have now picked up some of the slack as Althoff has taken a step back in recent campaigns.

39. SouthWest Suburban Red (Decade rating: 60): The more dynamic programs in this conference definitely reside on the Blue side of the SouthWest Suburban, but there have been some solid performances carded by this league's membership for certain.

38. CCL/ESCC Purple (Decade rating: 60.25): One of the more uneven conferences around through this process and the system definitely favors some of the efforts set forth by its membership at the first part of the decade. One playoff win in the last three years definitely puts a crimp in the conference's overall ranking as of late.

37. Mid-Illini (Decade rating: 60.255): Washington's remarkable consistency provides a very stable baseline for this conference to start with. Isolated jumps in success rate by programs like Canton, Metamora and Dunlap help push the number up a little bit, but the lack of a consistent second source of high-level performance keeps this league in the middle of the pack.

36. Southern Illinois River-to-River Mississippi (Decade rating: 61.501): Most conferences have maybe two or at best three teams that have individual team ratings above seven. This league has four of its six teams at that level, speaking to the overall all-around steadiness of this conference. If that was coupled with a little bit more playoff success this conference would almost immediately shoot up the charts.

35. Prairieland Black (Decade rating: 61.8): This conference's rating is likely to slip a bit in the future as one of the more massive individual seasons came from this conference in the first year of this study (Illini West in 2010). And its success since that big year has sort of been all over the map.

34. Big Twelve (Decade rating: 62.998): This league has gotten production from numerous teams at various times, but rarely has a high level of success stayed in one place for an extended period of time. Only one program has had individual seasons scored in the double digits four times (Normal Community) in the decade, but six other schools in the league have at least one.

33. South Central (Decade rating: 63.1): As a locked conference, success in this formula is often defined by how much playoff success that league has. Carlinville, Pana and Greenville, along with a one-season rush by Staunton, gives the South Central enough postseason presence to attain a solid ranking.

32. CPL Land of Lincoln (Decade rating: 65.164): Much of this league's prominence is afforded to Phillips, which over its most recent seven-year stretch has racked up substantial points in this system. But one team can't carry any conference in this formula, and solid if not flashy performances over the decade by Raby, Morgan Park and Lincoln Park help this grouping establish itself as the best overall in the CPL.

31. South Suburban Blue (Decade rating: 65.714): Conferences start to attain a higher ranking when they have multiple teams playing at a elite level. That's happening with this league, especially with the somewhat recent emergence of Hillcrest coupled with the consistent success level attained by the Lemont program.

Steve Soucie

Steve Soucie

Steve Soucie has been the Sports Editor at the Joliet Herald News since August of 2018. Prior to that, Soucie worked at the Kankakee Daily Journal and for Pro Football Weekly.