Could Burlington Central be headed for new league?
By Rick Armstrong email@example.com June 14, 2012 8:20PM
Kaneland's Tom Fox (front) and Burlington Central's Bryan Cynova watch a play unfold during a game this spring. Rumors are swirling that Burlington Central could be a candidate to join Kaneland in the Northern Illinois Big 12. | File~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 16, 2012 6:20AM
Just like the colleges, where athletic programs continue to do the conference shuffle, it continues to be difficult keeping track of various prep leagues.
Who’s in the (pick one) East? Who’s in the West?
The Northern Illinois Big 12 Conference, an offshoot of the Western Sun which followed the Suburban Prairie which was a branch of the Little Seven tree — sorry, that’s as far back as I go — hasn’t even had time to lose the “new-car” smell and changes are coming.
The good news? They won’t be overnight.
Dixon alerted the league it was withdrawing from the NI Big 12 West Division. The Dukes, who have had trouble filling rosters for some lower level teams, will be joining Johnsburg of the Fox Valley Conference in moving to the Big Northern Conference.
The Big Northern has programs like Stillman Valley, Oregon and Byron in its West Division, where Dixon is likely headed. Its East Division has Genoa-Kingston and Burlington Central, among others, and will be a natural fit for Johnsburg.
In fact, the Skyhawks used to fare quite well in the BNC before a projected enrollment boost led to the Fox Valley exit. The growth never happened and Johnsburg is coming back to the BNC.
“(Dixon) is in for next year and the year after, though,” said Yorkville’s Seth Schoonover, noting the move was discussed at a recent regular NI Big 12 athletic directors meeting.
“We made the decision to invite a number of schools to our fall meeting to discuss what’s going on. We’ve had a number of schools contact us. Before making any invitations we want to make sure it’s a fit (with a proposed new school coming in). The divisions may be adjusted, based on size or geography.”
Speculation immediately after the Dixon-Johnsburg news broke back in May was that Burlington Central might be a likely candidate to join the NI Big 12, which includes an East Division (Kaneland, Yorkville, Morris, Sycamore, DeKalb and Rochelle) and West Division (Dixon, Sterling, LaSalle-Peru, Geneseo, Ottawa and Streator).
The thinking? Burlington Central would be a natural fit for the East Division and Rochelle could move to the West.
“There was no discussion of inviting Burlington or any other school, though, (at the meeting),” said DeKalb athletic director Dan Jones, who recently stepped down and was appointed to the same post at Hinsdale Central.
“We’re gonna put it out there to see if anybody is interested. I think it’s a lot of rumors and speculation about schools that might work. I think we’re all really happy with the way (the NI Big 12) has worked out these first couple years.”
Speculation was Streator was also unhappy and developing wandering eyes.
Schoonover refuted that.
“Streator assured everyone it is in for the long haul,” he said. “It’s been good for us. These are comparable schools and it’s been great renewing our natural rivalry with Morris. We get huge crowds for those matchups.”
Other candidates for that fall meeting? Hampshire, which recently left the Big Northern for the Fox Valley, could be a possibility as well as the Interstate Eight’s Sandwich.