Can NIC-10 turn playoff fortunes around?
This past Sunday, the IHSA put a lot of faith in the strength of the NIC-10 by giving Hononegah the No. 1 seed in 7A and Auburn the No. 3 seed in 6A.The seedings are a bit curious if you look at how the conference has been performing in the IHSA playoffs this millennium.
From 1974 through 1994, the NIC-10 was one of the best football conferences in Illinois. East won state titles in 1974 and 1985. Belvidere won in 1993 and 1994 and finished second in 1988. Guilford won a state title in 1982 and Hononegah reached a title game in 1985. There were six other semifinal appearances from Boylan, West and Belvidere.
The NIC-10's playoff record in those years was a stellar 86-48, a 64 percent winning percentage.
Since 1994, deep playoff runs have been few and far between. The NIC-10's playoff record from 1995 through 2016 is just 71-90, a 44 percent winning percentage. That includes the two Boylan state championships in 2010 and 2011. Since 2011, the conference is just 12-25, a 32 percent winning percentage.
The NIC-10 is guaranteed two wins this year because Auburn is playing North and Harlem is playing Hononegah. Hopefully, one or two teams have sustained playoff success to bring back some of the fear schools used to have when they went up against a NIC-10 team.
NIC-10 playoff records by decade:
1970s - 11-5, 68.8%
1980s - 41-25, 62.1%
1990s - 46-31, 59.7%
2000s - 34-46, 42.5%
2010s - 25-31, 44.6%
Source: NIC-10 Sports History Book