High School Sports

Collinsville football program asks to leave Southwestern Conference

Collinsville football practices before 2016 season

Coach says if Kahoks are to improve, it'll happen on defense
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Coach says if Kahoks are to improve, it'll happen on defense

Collinsville High School has submitted a request to other Southwestern Conference schools to withdraw its football team.

Head coach Rick Reinhart confirmed Friday that Collinsville, which has made the IHSA playoffs only three times and has never won a postseason game, wants out of the league following the 2018 season.

Southwestern Conference commissioner Bill Schmidt said the request came in time for the spring meeting of the league’s athletic directors.

“There has been no definitive decision made on Collinsville’s request,” Schmidt said. “I would think a decision would be announced in the near future. There have been a lot of rumors floating around about Collinsville.”

Reinhart and Schmidt both said Collinsville, a charter member of the conference, would continue to compete in the SWC in all other sports.

The Kahoks would still compete in the SWC for two more years if their request is granted. They would be independent beginning in 2019.

With 1,924 students, Collinsville had the third-lowest classification enrollment in the conference last season, according to the IHSA. Only East St. Louis (1,289) and Granite City (1,812) were lower. Granite City is withdrawing from the conference entirely in 2018.

Granite City High School Principal Daren DePew talks about Granite City's decision to leave the Southwestern Conference after the 2017-18 school year.

“With our declining enrollment, and with the way things have gone the last few years, we felt this was something we’re doing to do to see if we can get the program where we think it should be,” Reinhart said.

The Kahoks have struggled to compete on Friday nights in recent years. Competing against the perennial state powers East St. Louis and Edwardsville, and solid programs in Belleville West, Belleville East and O’Fallon, Collinsville has had just one winning season since 1999.

Collinsville finished 5-5 under coach Mike Liljegren in 2010, when it lost in the first round of the Class 6A playoffs.

According to the Illinois High School Association record book, the Kahoks’ last winning season came in 1998, when they finished 8-2 under coach Tim Kane. They lost a first-round class 5A playoff game.

Granite City, another charter member of the league, announced in May that it would withdraw all athletic programs from the Southwestern Conference.

Granite City District 9 Superintendent Jim Greenwald cited safety concerns related to an incident that occurred during a Feb. 21 boys basketball game in East St. Louis. The Warriors and Flyers were late in the first half when multiple people reported seeing a student in possession of a gun. No shots were fired, no gun was recovered, the game was not rescheduled and both teams took a forfeit loss.

Granite City players and cheerleaders were escorted by police to the school bus.

Greenwald initially approached other conference schools about equipping their gymnasiums and stadiums with metal detectors or wands. The proposal was not well received, and the District 9 board elected to leave the conference with a 7-0 vote.

The Warriors will compete as independents in 2018, as they continue their search for a new conference affiliation.