A quick settlement of the East St. Louis District 189 teachers strike might be the only way the East St. Louis Flyers football team can play its scheduled home game Friday night against Edwardsville.
“If they settle the strike at, say, 4 o’clock, tomorrow, they could play that night,” Matt Troha, an assistant executive director with the Illinois High School Association, said Thursday. “It’s whether or not the state board is declaring you to be on strike.”
According to IHSA by-laws, the Illinois School Board of Education requires that 51 percent of a district’s students must be in attendance at school in normal session to be considered official and not on strike.
The game is scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday at Clyde C. Jordan Stadium. Edwardsville (5-0) has beaten East St. Louis (3-2) 57-32 and 29-28 the past two seasons.
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East St. Louis Athletic Director Leonard Manley is hoping for a quick settlement.
“At this point it looks like we may have to cancel the game, but who knows?” Manley said Thursday. “I think they are negotiating now, so I am optimistic that we could play that game tomorrow night.
If they settle the strike at, say, 4 o’clock, tomorrow, they could play that night.
Matt Troha, IHSA assistant executive director
“It’s not easy to deal with, but this is something that East St. Louis has been through before as well as some of the other school districts in the metropolitan area. We’ll survive this as well.”
Edwardsville was seventh in the latest Class 8A state rankings and first in the News-Democrat Large-School rankings. East St. Louis was seventh in the Class 7A state poll and third in the BND rankings
Asked if the Flyers would practice during a strike, Manley said there are guidelines to follow.
“The guys can practice on their own, but I’m sure the coaches that are union (members) will not cross that line and will not participate in any form of practice,” Manley said.
The Flyers are coming off a 35-26 loss at Belleville West last Saturday. If they are unable to play Edwardsville because of the strike, a forfeit loss would drop them to 3-3 with games remaining against Belleville East (3-2), Collinsville (1-4) and O’Fallon (1-4).
The Flyers could still qualify for the state playoffs easily with three losses and possibly with four as well. The tie-breaking cutoff for qualifying for the playoffs is playoff points, the number of wins by your opponents.
At this point it looks like we may have to cancel the game, but who knows. I think they are negotiating now, so I am optimistic that we could play that game tomorrow night.
East St. Louis Athletic Director Leonard Manley
The Flyers have 23 playoff points heading into Week 6 of a nine-week season. In past years, the cutoff has ranged from 36 to 40 points and East St. Louis will likely continue to benefit from the win totals of opponents like Montini (5-0), Edwardsville (5-0), Chicago Simeon (3-2), Belleville West (3-2) and Belleville East (3-2).
Edwardsville coach Matt Martin said none of his players even mentioned the teachers strike until he brought it up and spoke with them Wednesday after practice.
“We’ve just prepared like we always do,” he said. “It does add an extra twist and you wonder how it impacts your kids and their focus, but we’ve had a pretty good week of practice. As a competitor you want to play and I think I speak for our coaches and our kids.
“But there’s bigger things here than just a football game, some of which we can’t control. Anything’s possible. It’s still possible to get it done.”
7The number of state football championships won by East St. Louis, the most by any metro-east school
The Southwestern Conference football championship runs through East St. Louis in most seasons, although Edwardsville has made up ground in recent years.
Edwardsville won unbeaten SWC championships in each of the last two years and has a 23-game conference win streak dating back to a 14-7 loss to East St. Louis on Sept. 7, 2012.
East St. Louis owns six conference titles in the last 10 years, while Edwardsville has three (2014, 2013, 2005) and O’Fallon has one (2010).
“They are year-in and year-out one of the best teams,” Martin said of the Flyers, who own seven state championships and more victories in program history than any other team in the state. “If you’re a competitor you like to measure yourself by who you play and how you perform against them.”
Troha said the game could also be played Saturday or even Sunday if Edwardsville agreed, but Martin said he would be hesitant to change the previously scheduled date.
Martin said if Edwardsville doesn’t play Friday, there would be no practice but it also won’t be a day off.
“We’ll find something for them to do,” he said. “We’d go through our usual Saturday where we run and lift, we just wouldn’t have film to watch.”