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Southern Illinois River-to-River Conference to stick with 11 teams

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ANNA (WSIL) – When Sparta High School notified the Southern Illinois River-to-River Conference that they were leaving for the Cahokia Conference, the league began to research who would become the most viable replacement.

After much debate it was voted that the league would be best suited by sticking with just eleven teams. Logistics became an obstacle when considering some teams. We caught up with SIRR President and Anna-Jonebsoro Head Football Coach and Principal Brett Detering to get some insight as to how a decision came about.

“I’ll be the first one to say that we were looking to add a twelfth school,” Detering said. “The challenge with a twelfth school is, it’s got to be a good fit geographically and size of school as well.”

“We’re not going to add Marion into our league, we’re not going to add Carbondale into our league. Those schools are a lot bigger than the rest of us so we had to find a school that would fit size wise so you do that and a lot of those schools were probably in the Black Diamond. Well they’ve got a closed league so they’re not really looking so those aren’t really teams that you’re looking at. Then a team like Mater Dei who is up in Clinton County or you’ve got Mount Carmel who is over on the Ohio River and a long way away and you have to look at the logistics of that.”

“If you make a move that is football only, that fixes some things. If you make a move that brings in a twelfth school in all sports, now you’re looking at your volleyball team leaving around 5:30 PM to go to a game somewhere and potentially getting back around 11:30 PM on a school night and do those things make sense and so there were a lot of unknowns. What would that look like. If this were a normal year, things might have been different. Might have looked differently.”

“Ultimately there is so much going on. All of our school administrators are trying to figure out what school is going to look like in the fall and to add something else to it would’ve complicated matters so a lot of schools were content to say ‘hey let’s see what eleven schools in our conference looks like. Let’s give that a year or two and see what would happen’ and the school that would’ve made the most sense would’ve been Mount Carmel but they are exploring options in the Little Illini Conference now that Flora is joining the Black Diamond Conference so there is no guarantee had we said let’s bring them in that they would’ve came. They might have found a better option somewhere else so because of all those factors and because of the unknowns of where we were at just felt like right now might not be the best time to add that dynamic in there.”

And the vote kept coming back to logistics.

“For some teams Mount Carmel is not that far away. We’re two hours and thirty minutes on a bus and that’s a long way to go. If you’re going for one trip every two years in a football season, that’s one thing. If you’re going on a Tuesday or a Thursday for a girls basketball game or a volleyball game or having to go to a 4:30 PM start for baseball and softball and leaving here at one o’clock, those are some things you had to consider. So those were things that ultimately led to people making the decision to just stay put with six on the Ohio and five on the Mississippi.”

Jason Hurst

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