Saturday, June 6, 2020
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USA Today's top IL high school football teams

USA Today has published a list of what its computers think are the top high school football teams in Illinois—and in other states, too, by following a drop-down menu.

  1. Chicago (Mt Carmel)
  2. Wilmette (Loyola)
  3. Frankfort (Lincoln-Way East)
  4. Glen Ellyn (Glenbard West)
  5. Naperville (Neuqua Valley)
  6. Aurora (Waubonsie Valley)
  7. Cary (Cary-Grove Community)
  8. Palatine
  9. Carol Stream (Glenbard North)
  10. Lombard (Montini)
  11. Wheaton (Wheaton North)
  12. Lake Zurich
  13. Aurora (Aurora Christian)
  14. Crete (Crete-Monee)
  15. New Lenox (Providence Catholic)
  16. Woodstock (Marian Central)
  17. Bolingbrook
  18. East Saint Louis
  19. Chicago (Marist)
  20. Lisle (Benet Academy)
  21. Park Ridge (Maine South)
  22. Rochester, the only Top 25 school outside the Chicago area
  23. Joliet (Joliet Catholic Academy)
  24. LaGrange (Lyons Township)
  25. Lincolnshire (Stevenson)

I’m a pretty big fan of computer rankings. As you may know, we have used a mathematical model for six years to predict the strength of high school football teams. You can see our analysis from last year of our own model, here, but I just want to point out: we correctly predicted six of the eight state championship games last year. Whenever two strong teams (or two weak teams) play each other, as happens in state championship games, the results are highly unpredictable, so a lot of that success was due to luck.

Computer rankings, like those we use or those used by USA Today, aren’t an exact science, but I prefer them to the opinions of sports writers who can’t possibly have seen all 581 varsity high school football teams that will play this fall in Illinois, starting this week.

Both the Chicago Tribune and the Sun-Times are releasing their lists from the bottom up, two schools a day, so that Nos. 1 and 2 are announced on the first day of the season Friday. This, of course, is a tactic newspapers use to keep readers coming back, but I have a few notes so far from these lists, which are based more on personal experience than mathematics:

As these are preseason rankings and the two Chicago papers haven’t completed their online rankings yet, we’re going to report those when they’re done. At the end of the season—and we fully expect every one of these teams to make the playoffs, including those that are just hometown favorites—we’ll compare the rankings, because if we need to modify our own mathematical model, we’ll just have to get some good evidence to support any changes we make.

Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

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