Details of CCL/ESCC football merger revealed

Frank Giamarusti (3) of Notre Dame steps over a Marist defender. Worsom Robinson/For the Sun-Times.
Frank Giamarusti (3) of Notre Dame steps over a Marist defender. Worsom Robinson/For the Sun-Times.

The Chicago Catholic League and East Suburban Catholic will merge for football in 2019. The leagues announced the move on Thursday.

The move was passed after a unanimous vote by principals from both leagues.

Fenwick principal Peter Groom acknowledged that football scheduling difficulties were a driving factor in the decision.

“Football is just different because not everybody makes the playoffs,” Groom said. “The parity model we have in the Catholic league has really worked for us. The more schools you have involved with that the better.”

A committee of athletic directors from each conference agreed on a formula to determine divisional placement of each school. Factors included male enrollment, football participation numbers and success during the 2017 and 2018 season.

The conference is expected to have six divisions of four teams. Each team would play three conference games, four crossover games and two non conference games.

Groom said that a name for the new conference has yet to be determined.

“We did not want to get bogged down in a name and prevent this from happening,” Groom said. “Each conference has a deep history and tradition and I could have seen that as a point of tension.”

The new 24-team conference, mapped.

The new conference omits Hope Academy, which was only a Catholic League member for football. That means the new conference will have 14 members from the Catholic League and 10 from the East Suburban Catholic.

“We really wanted to make it happen so we focused on the schools that are full members of both leagues,” Groom said. “We would definitely be open to other schools and the possibility of expanding in the future.

Some coaches believe the football merger is the first step towards a merger for more sports.

“We’ve agreed to continue discussions about other sports,” Groom said. “We will see how this goes and see where the future takes us. We want to take baby steps.”

The “super Catholic conference” has been tried before. The two leagues merged together from 1996 to 2002 as the Catholic Metropolitan Conference.

Reaction from athletes around the area so far has been positive.

“A lot of the schools were very close to one another but in different conferences,” Groom said. “Those kids have gone to school together in the past and want to play each other. Hopefully there are some new rivalries that develop.”

Chicago Catholic League schools
Brother Rice
De La Salle
Mount Carmel
St. Ignatius
St. Laurence
St. Joseph
St. Rita

East Suburban Catholic schools
Joliet Catholic
Marian Catholic
Marian Central
Notre Dame
St. Patrick
St. Viator


  • doug

    Marian Central with Viator and Carmel makes the most sense.

  • SSFB

    Here’s my try….

    Mount Carmel, Rita, Providence, Rice
    Marist, Naz, Joliet, St. Laurence
    DLS, Marian Cat, Leo, St Ign
    Fenwick, Benet, Montini, Loyola
    St Pat, DePaul, St Joes, ND
    Marion Central, Carmel, St Viator, Marmion

  • JoeD

    Is the ‘plan’ to make the conference geographically correct? If that’s the case, shouldn’t DePaul, St.Ignatius, and De La Salle be lumped together? Just sayin……

  • Coach B

    Hmm…This makes the Hales Franciscan return to life much more interesting.

  • Football Fan

    IHSA requires a minimum of 5 in a conference for an automatic playoff birth, so 4 divisions of 6 would be better as each division is considered a conference by the IHSA. Look to the West Central conference as an example of one without an automatic qualifier for winning the conference.

  • cclalum89

    naw we want rice mt carmel and Rita

  • Jimmy Jones

    Brother Rice-Marist-Mt Carmel-St Rita
    Notre Dame-St Pat’s-Loyola-St Ignatius
    St Viator-Marian Central-Carmel-DePaul
    Nazareth-Benet-Fenwick-St Joe’s
    Marian Catholic-St. Laurence-Leo-De LaSalle
    Marmion-Joliet Catholic-Providence-Montini

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