The Illinois high school football season will open on Friday, Aug. 28, with more than 575 teams competing. The number of students enrolled at a school determines the class in which football teams play during the playoffs sanctioned by the Illinois High School Association.
Teams that qualify for the IHSA playoffs each year—slightly less than half of the teams in the state—are divided into eight groups after the list of playoff teams is sorted by enrollment. The eighth of the teams with the lowest enrollment numbers make their playoff runs in Class 1A, the eighth with the highest enrollment numbers in Class 8A, and the remaining teams in a middle enrollment class, 2A through 7A.
To determine the football enrollment, the actual enrollment is used for all students in ninth through 12th grade. Then, for schools that don’t limit enrollment based on geographic boundaries, such as Catholic schools, the actual enrollment is multiplied by 1.65 to obtain the football enrollment.
As you can see from the histogram, most of the teams in Illinois have enrollments below 1,000, and so the lower classes, 1A through 4A, tend to have a much smaller range of enrollment than some of the higher classes. Note on the histogram that some bins, which have no schools, have been omitted.