Sangamo Conference approaches Pittsfield about possibly joining league

Posted: Dec. 7, 2012 7:58 pm Updated: Dec. 21, 2012 8:15 pm

Herald-Whig Sports Writer

PITTSFIELD, Ill. — The Sangamo Conference has approached Pittsfield, a lynchpin member of the West Central Conference, to see if the Pike County school has interest in joining the Central Illinois-based league starting with the 2014-15 season.

Don Bigley, Pittsfield's athletic director and football coach, said the Pikeland School Board will consider the Sangamo's interest at its Dec. 19 meeting. Bigley said the school board could seek full membership, football-only membership or could decide to not apply for Sangamo membership and remain in the WCC.

"If our board votes yes, our administration will have to send a letter of inquiry to the Sangamo saying we would like to come into the Sangamo Conference," Bigley said.

Bigley, who is the West Central Conference president and said he's been involved in WCC competition for 28 years, declined to say whether he thought Pittsfield should join the Sangamo.

Bigley said he believes the Sangamo would accept Pittsfield should it apply.

"I think they wouldn't have contacted me unless they were serious about taking us," Bigley said. "I would be surprised if they wouldn't take us."

Pittsfield competed in the River Trails Conference for football in the mid-1990s before going independent and then joining the WCC in 1999.

If Pittsfield joins the Sangamo, it would be stepping into a 10-team football league. That means the Saukees would play a nine-game regular-season schedule consisting entirely of conference games.

The Sangamo will have 10 members in 2013. There will be an opening in 2014 however, with Pawnee's departure. The Springfield State Journal-Register reported on Nov. 19 that the Prairie State Conference invited Pawnee -- currently a Sangamo member -- to apply to join the league for football starting in fall 2014, and Pawnee's school board unanimously approved the application.

The WCC has been in a state of constant change.

Its football league competed under the West Prairie Trail moniker from 2006-09 with four divisions. In 2010, the WCC was a nine-team football league. It expanded to a 12-team football league with two divisions in 2011, but was back to a nine-team football league in 2012.

The 2012 football season was the final year for Orion, Taylor Ridge Rockridge, Sherrard and Princeton in the WCC.

On Feb. 1, WCC athletic directors voted unanimously to invite Quincy Notre Dame, Chillicothe IVC and Canton to join the league for football-only starting in 2013. QND and IVC accepted the invite, and Canton declined. That leaves the WCC with seven football-playing members for 2013. The other football members of the WCC in 2013 will be Illini West, West Hancock, Macomb and Monmouth-Roseville.

Bigley said he's notified the WCC schools and the non-conference schools Pittsfield is tentatively slated to play in football in 2014 about the discussions between Pittsfield and the Sangamo.

"It's not a secret," Bigley said.


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