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Local Sports

New conference to form from former I-8 schools

Coal City's football team huddles during a recent game. Coal City is among eight schools that formally announced that they will leave the Interstate Eight Conference at the start of the 2019-2020 school year. The other schools are Manteno, Reed-Custer, Wilmington, Herscher, Peotone, Streator and Lisle.
Coal City's football team huddles during a recent game. Coal City is among eight schools that formally announced that they will leave the Interstate Eight Conference at the start of the 2019-2020 school year. The other schools are Manteno, Reed-Custer, Wilmington, Herscher, Peotone, Streator and Lisle.

The schools of Coal City, Manteno, Reed-Custer, Wilmington, Herscher, Lisle, Streator, and Peotone made it official Wednesday at their monthly Interstate Eight Conference meeting.

Those eight schools will officially withdraw from the Interstate Eight at the start of the 2019-20 school year and form their own conference, leaving out current I-8 members Westmont, Sandwich and Plano.

The shuffling of the Interstate Eight began when Seneca decided to leave the conference to become a member of the Sangamon Valley Conference for football and wrestling and the Tri-County Conference for all other sports and activities next year.

The Interstate Eight then received letters of interest from three different schools, including Morris. One school eventually dropped its interest, and neither one of the remaining schools received the required number of votes to be included in the conference.

Shortly after the voting, seven schools – Coal City, Manteno, Reed-Custer, Wilmington, Herscher, Lisle and Peotone — sent emails to the remaining four – Streator, Sandwich, Plano and Westmont — that they were exploring other conference options. Streator then joined the seven to make the current group of eight.

At the latest Interstate Eight Conference meeting on Wednesday, the eight schools formally announced their decision to withdraw from the conference, as all of the school boards had approved the withdrawals.

"We will finish out this school year with Seneca as a member of the conference," Manteno principal and Interstate Eight president Roger Schnitzler said. "Next year, we will have 11 schools in the conference. Then, in 2019-2020, the eight schools will form their own conference."

Schnitzler said that the new conference will keep its membership at eight schools and is not seeking any more schools to join.

"We are going to keep it at eight schools," Schnitzler said. "We will still continue to function as the Interstate Eight for the next year and a half. We will be working on the new conference, such as the laws and what we are going to name it, in the meantime."

Schnitzler pointed out that since the eight schools are withdrawing from the Interstate Eight, that name will not be available for use.

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