Granite City High School thinks it has found a fit in its search for a new athletic conference affiliation.
The District 9 Board of Education voted to pursue membership in the South Seven Conference, which would create new regional rivalries for the Warriors in both Althoff and Cahokia, and make its new affiliation a true seven-school league.
School administrators from other South Seven Conference schools must still vote to accept the Warriors, but Granite City Athletic Director John Moad says “it looks like the ball is rolling that way.”
“We play Carbondale in nonconference football and have played Marion, too. We complete against South Seven Conference teams in other sports, too, so there is some famliarity,” Moad said. “I would think it’s a good fit for everybody. It helps with their football schedule because they are always looking to add, and it gives us three teams up here we can play.”
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Granite City school board members voted unanimously in May to end the Warriors’ long-standing membership in the Southwestern Conference, citing both safety and competitive concerns.
The South Seven Conference includes Althoff, Cahokia, Carbondale, Centralia, Marion and Mount Vernon. Both O’Fallon and Edwardsville were members of the South Seven before joining the Southwestern Conference.
With a total enrollment of 1,812, Granite City would be the largest school in the South Seven by far, at least doubling the enrollment of four other schools in the league.
I would think it’s a good fit for everybody. It helps with their football schedule because they are always looking to add, and it gives us three teams up here we can play.
John Moad, Granite City Athletic Director
South Seven Conference president Keith Oates, superintendent at Marion High School, will be away from the district office through the weekend and was not available to comment. It has not yet been determined when members schools will vote on Granite City’s membership application.
Should Granite City get the nod to join the league, Althoff Athletic Director Greg Lieb will be among those to welcome the addition.
“It will create an odd number of teams, which cause some scheduling problems. But scheduling is a nightmare anytime. It just means that one team will have to have a bye that week,” Leib said. “Having Granite City will create another rivalry that is within a 40-minute radius.
“Granite City has a rich athletic tradition, and in some of the sports in which they excel, it will force us to raise our level of play. The competition will be very good for everybody.”
Granite City’s decision to leave the Southwestern Conference stemmed from a Feb. 21 basketball game at East St. Louis, Superintendent Jim Greenwald said following the board’s May vote.
The game was suspended, both teams took a forfeit loss and the Granite City players and cheerleaders were escorted by police to their team bus amid reports that a student had brought a gun into the gym.
A gun was never recovered, and no charges have been filed. Greenwald petitioned other Southwestern Conference schools, however, to install metal detectors at gym entrances, similar to those at Granite City. When the petition was rebuffed, District 9 voted to seek a new conference.
“It’s sad to leave the Southwestern Conference, but as we’ve said all along, we have to do what we feel is best for the kids and best for Granite City,” Moad said.
Granite City was a charter member of the Southwestern Conference, which formed in 1923. It left the conference in 1975, when the district split into two schools, but rejoined in 1985 when the second campus closed.