QUINCY -- Representatives from the Archdiocesan Athletic Association and the Metro League in the St. Louis area have reached out to Quincy Notre Dame about being part of a 20- or 24-school conference of private schools that would be created for football purposes only starting with the 2020-2021 school year.
Bill Connell, the athletic director at QND, said he believes he will be invited this month to visit with other school representatives for what was called an "ultra conference" in a letter sent to the school.
Connell said he knows little more than what was sent to him in a three-page letter.
"Are we interested in going down there and talking with them? Yes," he said. "Just tell me the date and time of where I need to be."
QND is a member of the West Central Conference, which had as many as 12 teams in 2011 but dwindled to three teams for the 2017 season. The other members of the WCC are West Hancock and Macomb. Champions of conferences with at least six teams get automatic bids to the Illinois High School Association football playoffs
The AAA has 13 schools with two girls-only schools in St. Louis Notre Dame and Rosati-Kain. The Metro League has eight schools with one girls-only school (Villa Duchesne).
The proposal that has crossed Connell's desk calls for the 11 AAA teams and the seven Metro teams to merge and add either two or six yet-to-be-determined schools. The schools would be placed in four divisions, based upon the size of the school and past football success.
QND is one of 11 private schools that have been identified as teams that will be contacted to gauge interest in joining the new league. Other schools in Illinois on that list are:
* Metro-East Lutheran in Edwardsville, an independent school;
* Althoff in Belleville, a member of the South Seven Conference;
* Marquette in Alton, a member of the Prairie State Conference;
* Mater Dei in Breese, an independent school;
* Sacred Heart-Griffin in Springfield, a member of the Central State Eight.
Other teams in Missouri on that list are:
* St. Pius X in Festus, a member of the Jefferson County Conference;
* Valle in Ste. Genevieve, a member of the Mineral Area Activities Association;
* St. Vincent in Perryville, a member of the Jefferson County Conference;
* Missouri Military Academy in Mexico, an independent school;
* Central Home School in Arnold, an independent school.
Most of the schools on that list are within an hour's drive of St. Louis. QND is the farthest away, listed at 136 miles from St. Louis.
The proposal calls for four or five division games to be played (depending on if each division had five or six teams), with two "cross-over" games to be played against teams in other divisions inside the conference. Teams would have to fill open slots in their schedule for the first, second and ninth weeks.
The proposal said the rationale for creating the league is that several schools in both the AAA and the Metro have noted the challenges they face in fielding programs in the future. Several schools in both leagues hope to increase their level of competition and not play all the schools they are currently assigned to play.
An example would be Priory, a member of the Metro League with an enrollment of 293. The Rebels went 1-9 last season, with three of their five league opponents (and two non-league opponents) having an enrollment of 500 or more students.
The AAA has three schools with 580 or more students, with the other eight schools having enrollments of 361 or less.
Quincy Notre Dame has an enrollment of 416 students for the 2017-18 school year. The Raiders went 5-5 in 2017, with seven opponents having an enrollment of at least 250 more students.
Connell regularly has to find seven games to fill his schedule, while teams in established conferences usually have to fill only one or two.
"With the record we have, with the people we play, with how the (Illinois High School Association) sets up their playoff system, with the lack of Class 4A teams surrounding us, there's a lot of reasons why I sit and talk to these people," Connell said of the discussions with other conferences. "I never tell anybody that I can't go talk.
"Would some of these things fit us better than what we have now? They could."