Analysis | Friday Night Drive

What we learned in Week 3: Has parity reached the ranks of IHSA football?

102 teams have moved to the 3-0 mark this season.

That’s about the expectation at this stage of the year, but probably the most interesting thing about that number is that there is a heavy concentration of where those undefeated teams reside.

One conference, the West Suburban Silver, has four remaining undefeated teams and 11 leagues have three. So in those 12 conferences, about 40% of all of the undefeated reside. When you consider the fact that there are 68 IHSA playoff-eligible conferences and another group of 14 independent schools, it’s easy to see that many leagues could have traffic jams at the top with teams with either one loss or even two still having a viable path to a conference championship.

Let’s take a look at some of the biggest storylines of Week 3:

Conference chaos

Conference play began in most leagues this week and it didn’t disappoint.

As expected, two of the more intriguing story lines came out of the West Suburban Silver and DuKane Conferences.

As mentioned, the West Suburban Silver is the only league in the state with four undefeated teams. Heading into the season if you would have had to identify who those four teams would be, you probably would have been on point with Glenbard West and York.

The other two might not have been as easy to identify. Lyons had a massive win by besting the league champion from last season, Hinsdale Central, while Downers Grove North kept its ledger clean by upending crosstown rival Downers Grove South in this week’s crossover matchup.

Now teams must chase. Hinsdale Central, in particular, has an uphill climb at 1-2 after being the only team in the division to lose a nonconference game in the first two weeks.

The DuKane clearly is living up to the expectation that the conference would be deep.

But it might be too deep. Regardless of how many quality teams are in the league, only four can win each week. It’s going to make for a real crunch at some point this season.

Batavia and Wheaton Warrenville South already have two losses, and one of them is guaranteed a third as they haven’t played each other yet. Not to mention the other potential minefields that await them later in the season.

The sad irony of the schedule is that despite how strong it is, they won’t be racking many playoff points. Most teams net four to five points per week on average. If a DuKane team wins a league game, they will only get three points from other members of their league that win and can only get up to a maximum of five weekly points if both of their nonconference opponents also win their games.

Surprise, surprise

Ottawa on the list of 3-0 schools certainly is surprising.

The Pirates have struggled recently, and their three wins already have eclipsed the win total of each of the past seven fall seasons. It last won more than three in 2015 [4-5] and haven’t made the playoffs since 2012 when it reached the Class 6A quarterfinals.

Other teams that continue their apparent breakthroughs are Lane, Bremen, Elk Grove Village and Seneca.

Power to the Purple

The CCL/ESCC Conference gets a lot of deserved acclaim for its strength.

Most of that goes to the premier division of the conference, the Blue Division, which typically boasts at least two or three legitimate contenders for a state title.

And while the Blue is meeting its standard for excellence, very quietly the Purple Division is making its presence known. Three of the four teams (Marian Catholic, St. Viator and Carmel) are 3-0 and the fourth, St. Patrick, is 2-1.

The biggest challenge for the Purple Division will be trying to maintain its momentum as they not only have to survive the head-to-head matchups with one another, but three remaining crossover games as well [one each against Blue, Green and White division foes].

Since four team conferences don’t receive automatic playoff bids for its winner [no matter how tough the league may be] every win will be cherished for all the teams in this gauntlet.