Marian Central to join East Suburban Catholic Conference in all sports

WOODSTOCK – First-year Marian Central athletic director Drew Potthoff grew weary of the sales pitch every time he spoke with incoming freshman athletes.

He would tell the children and their parents how Marian, in the 2014-15 school year, would compete in the Chicago Catholic League for football and boys soccer, but would remain with five other schools in the Suburban Christian Conference for all other sports.

It was cumbersome and confusing.

“I’d explain that this conference [Chicago Catholic League] has a good name for football, but everybody else [in other sports] is going to be scrambling over here for this,” Potthoff said. “That doesn’t sit well with me as an athletic director.”

So Marian kept the communication lines open with the East Suburban Catholic Conference. The ESCC had spoken with the SCC schools in the spring after seven current SCC schools announced they would jump to the Metro Suburban Conference in 2014-15.

Potthoff, Marian superintendent Tom Landers, principal Charles Rakers and assistant AD Curtis Price all were smiling Tuesday as they announced the Hurricanes would have a new home, for all sports, with the ESCC in 2014-15. They met with Marian coaches after school to inform them of the move, then received the call confirming their acceptance around 4:30 p.m.

“Everybody realized the new configuration we came up with last spring was, at best, temporary,” Landers said. “The idea was to bring more schools into the Suburban Christian Conference. We didn’t feel as though that was likely to happen. That leaves a lot of uncertainty relative to how our conference can proceed and whether we can even have a home, quite frankly.”

“Home” was a word Landers and Potthoff used frequently on Tuesday. Potthoff indicated the ESCC ADs and principals will meet soon about scheduling and could be leaning toward two divisions, probably a north and south, to cut down on travel.

Marian would be placed in the north if that happens and likely would look at trips to Niles (Notre Dame), Mundelein (Carmel), Arlington Heights (St. Viator), Lisle (Benet Academy) and LaGrange Park (Nazareth).

Potthoff also said the Hurricanes will keep their two nonconference football games to start next season, with Crystal Lake South and McHenry.

“Back in September, we met with Chicago Catholic League ADs and principals,” Rakers said. “They wanted us to add all the other sports, but when you look at all the sports and where we needed to go and what we had to deal with, it would be hard. In soccer, we were going to have to play four [boys] soccer games on Saturdays. We couldn’t get in there [Chicago] and they couldn’t get out here [on weekdays].”

Potthoff was excited that Marian’s sports future is on solid footing.

“The stability this conference gives us is a great advantage,” Potthoff said. “We have a new home, we have great schools around us, it’s going to be challenging, new schools, new rivalries. Scheduling could start next week. It was very clear to me that this is where we want our kids to be.”

Marian Central’s conference shifting

• May 2013: Seven of the Suburban Christian Conference schools – most with smaller enrollments – accept invitations from the Metro Suburban Conference for the 2014-15 school year. Aurora Central Catholic, Chicago Christian, Guerin, Immaculate Conception, St. Edward, Walther Lutheran and Wheaton Academy make the move, driven mostly by football, where games between SCC Blue and Gold Division teams were often blowouts.

• June 2013: The remaining SCC schools – Marian, Aurora Christian, Marmion, Montini and St. Francis – are accepted by the Chicago Catholic League for football and boys soccer. They decide to search for other member schools and stay together in other sports. That includes Rosary (girls only), instead of Marmion (boys only) in girls sports.

• November 2013: Marian Central is accepted as the 11th member of the East Suburban Catholic Conference for all sports for the 2014-15 school year. Marian will join ESCC members Mundelein Carmel, St. Viator, Nazareth Academy, Benet Academy, Marist, Chicago Heights Marian Catholic and Joliet Catholic, as schools competing in boys and girls sports. Niles Notre Dame and Chicago St. Patrick compete only in boys sports, Fenwick, Providence and Bishop McNamara compete only in girls sports.