Chicago Catholic League

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The Chicago Catholic League (CCL) is a high school athletic conference based in Chicago, Illinois, USA. All of the schools are currently part of the Illinois High School Association, the governing body for Illinois scholastic sports. While some of the schools are coeducational institutions, the conference only supports athletics for male teams (the Girls Catholic Athletic Conference serving as its female counterpart).

The CCL is perhaps best known for its dominance in football, water polo, and wrestling. Since the IHSA began a state football tournament in 1974, the CCL has placed first or second more than any conference or league in the state. Since 2002 when the IHSA first sponsored a state tournament in water polo, the CCL has not failed to win the state title for boys. Since 1984, when the IHSA moved to a dual team state series in wrestling (previously, the team champion was based on the advancement of individuals in the individual state tournament), the CCL has also finished first or second more than any conference or league.

The conference is also noteworthy for some of its alumni which include stars of the past like Cy Young Award winning pitcher Denny McLain and Basketball Hall of Fame member Moose Krause. It also includes more contemporary athletes such as NBA star Corey Maggette and All-Pro quarterback Donovan McNabb. Perhaps the conference's most accomplished alum is Duke University men's basketball coach, Mike Krzyzewski.

Member schools[edit]

School Town Team Name Colors IHSA Classes 2/3/4 Reference
Bishop McNamara High School Kankakee Fighting Irish           A/1A/2A [1]
Brother Rice High School Chicago Crusaders           AA/3A/4A [2]
De La Salle Institute Chicago Meteors           AA/3A/4A [3]
DePaul College Prep Chicago Rams           AA/2A/3A [4]
Fenwick High School Oak Park Friars           AA/3A/4A [5]
Hales Franciscan High School Chicago Spartans           A/1A/2A [6]
Leo Catholic High School Chicago Lions           A/1A/2A [7]
Loyola Academy Wilmette Ramblers           AA/3A/4A [8]
Mt. Carmel High School Chicago Caravan           AA/3A/4A [9]
Providence Catholic High School New Lenox Celtics           AA/3A/4A [10]
Seton Academy South Holland Sting                A/1A/2A [11]
St. Ignatius College Prep Chicago Wolfpack           AA/3A/4A [12]
St. Laurence High School Burbank Vikings           AA/3A/4A [13]
St. Rita of Cascia High School Chicago Mustangs           AA/3A/4A [14]
St. Joseph High School Westchester Chargers           AA/3A/3A

St. Joseph High School joined the conference in 2011. Lake Forest Academy joined the conference for football only in 2011. St.Viator High School joined in 2010 to compete in the conference for lacrosse. Additionally, St. Patrick High School, Notre Dame High School, and Marist High School participate in the conference for Boys Bowling.

For those schools which are coed, most of the girls teams compete in the Girls Catholic Athletic Conference. The girls teams from Bishop McNamara, Fenwick, and Providence compete in the East Suburban Catholic Conference.

Holy Trinity (Tigers) (1443 W. Division St) was also a Catholic League team. Last Catholic League season for football was 1965.


The Chicago Catholic League was formed in 1912 as a way to give the all-male Catholic schools of the area interscholastic competition.[15] The move to form the league was precipitated when the dominant high school league in the metropolitan area, the Cook County High School League, delayed the application of St. Ignatius Academy and DePaul Academy.[15] Representatives of eight schools met at the Great Northern Hotel—De Paul Academy, St Ignatius Academy, St Rita College, St. Cyril College (which would become Mount Carmel High School), Cathedral High, St. Philip High, Loyola Academy, and De La Salle Institute — but could not get together on the particulars to form a football–only league.

In the third week of November, the schools managed to form a league and drew up a schedule of games in basketball and indoor baseball. The founding members of the league were St. Stanislaus, De la Salle, De Paul, St. Ignatius, St. Cyril, St. Philip, Loyola, and Cathedral. By the spring when a baseball schedule was drawn up, Holy Trinity had joined the league, but Cathedral dropped out, leaving an eight-team circuit. In the fall of 1913, the league introduced football. By the following year, league champion De Paul, felt feisty enough to invite St. John’s Preparatory from Danvers, Massachusetts, to Chicago to engage in an intersectional contest. De Paul narrowly lost the game, but it demonstrated to the league that its program was thriving. Two years later De Paul traveled to Boston and met Beverly High in Fenway Park, destroying the team 30-7. More schools joined the circuit before the decade was up, St. Patrick in 1913, and St. Mel in 1918.

Because the Catholic school population relative to the mainstream public secondary schools and the private school was more an immigrant and working class population, the sports that the league initially sponsored reflected this demographic makeup. For example, during the first four years of the league’s existence, only baseball, basketball, indoor baseball, and football were offered. Basketball was the most robust sport, as the league not only provided for heavyweight and lightweight schedules, but also bantamweight (added in 1919) and flyweight competition (added in the early 1920s). The Chicago Public High School League and Suburban League offered basketball only in the heavyweight and lightweight classes, after experimenting only a few years with a bantamweight class.

The Catholic League added track and field in 1917, but it was not until 1924 that three “country club” sports were added to the league’s schedule golf, tennis, and swimming. The addition of these sports brought the league up to the level of offerings by the Chicago and Suburban public leagues. The 1920s also saw the addition of more schools to the league—St. George, Joliet De la Salle, and Fenwick.

Some working class sports that had great appeal in some Catholic schools were boxing and bowling, and the league sponsored competition for a few years during the Depression in boxing, and much longer in bowling.

By the late 1950s some of the Catholic League members were growing restive, wanting to participate in the state tournaments sponsored by the Illinois High School Association (IHSA). The four Christian Brothers schools – De La Salle, St. George, St. Mel and St. Patrick – withdrew from the Catholic League and joined the IHSA upon its formation of the Chicagoland Prep League (CPL) on 27 February 1961. St. Ignatius would defect to the CPL two years later on 9 April 1963.[16]

The Catholic League finally joined the IHSA in 1974, and eventually saw the return of St. Ignatius, St. Patrick, and De La Salle back into the league. Because of their membership in the IHSA, the 29 year old tradition of a Catholic League All-Star basketball game was forced to end in 1974.[17] In the beginning of 1996 the CCL And the East Suburban Catholic Conference and other catholic high schools decided to make a super catholic conference. They called it the Chicago Metropolitan Conference. Every school from the East Suburban was in the conference except Nazareth Academy and Marian Central Catholic. This conference ended in 2002-2003 season and both conference's went back to normal. Swimming and Water Polo founded the Metro Catholic Aquatic Conference in 1999 which included the all East Suburban Catholic and CCL Teams and still host a conference championship for both sports. The MCAC won ever single state title in Water Polo from 1974-2011.

Past members[edit]

  • (Defunct) Archbishop Weber High School Red Horde
  • (Defunct) St. Martin de Porres Academy Silver Eagles
  • (Defunct) St. George Dragons
  • (Defunct) Mendel Catholic Monarchs
  • (Defunct) St. Elizabeth Ironmen
  • (Defunct) DePaul Academy Blue Demons
  • (Defunct) St. Mel Knights
  • (Defunct) St. Philip Gaels
  • St. Francis De Sales Pioneers
  • Guerin College Preparatory High School Gators
  • Joliet Catholic Hilltoppers
  • St. Patrick Shamrocks
  • Weber - Red Horde
  • Carmel Catholic
  • Marist
  • Marian Catholic
  • Niles Notre Dame
  • Benet Academy
  • St. Viator
  • Gordon Tech (now known as DePaul College Prep)

State championships[edit]


State Champions[18]

  • 1975–76 • Brother Rice (Class AA)
  • 1977–78 • Providence Catholic (Class A)
  • 1981–82 • Providence Catholic (Class A)
  • 2012-13 • Mount Carmel (Class 4A)
  • 2013-14 •Providence Catholic(Class 4A)


Prior to the 2007-2008 season, the state basketball title was contested in two classes. Since then, it is contested in four classes.

State Champions[19]

  • 1978–79 • Providence Catholic (Class A)
  • 1984–85 • Providence-St. Mel (Class A)
  • 1984–85 • Mount Carmel (Class AA)
  • 2002–03 • Hales Franciscan (Class A)
  • 2003–04 • Leo (Class A)
  • 2008–09 • Seton Academy (Class AA)

The 2004–05 Class A title was stripped from Hales Franciscan after it was determined that the school had not been approved by the Illinois State Board of Education between 2003 and 2005.[20][21]


The Chicago Catholic League is divided into Blue and a White divisions. The Blue includes Brother Rice, Loyola, Mount Carmel, St. Rita, Fenwick and Providence. The White includes DeLaSalle, St. Ignatius, Bishop McNamara, (Burbank) St. Laurence, Gordon Tech, Seton Academy, Hales Franciscan, and Leo.

From 1980–2000, Class 6A was the largest (by school population) class in Illinois high school football. Class 7A and 8A were added in 2001. From 1974–79, Class 5A was the class for the largest schools.[22]

State Champions[22]

  • 1976–77 • St. Laurence (Class 5A)
  • 1978–79 • St. Rita (Class 5A)
  • 1980–81 • Gordon Tech (Class 6A)
  • 1980–81 • Mt. Carmel (Class 5A)
  • 1981–82 • Brother Rice (Class 6A)
  • 1982–83 • Bishop McNamara (Class 3A)
  • 1985–86 • Bishop McNamara (Class 3A)
  • 1986–87 • Bishop McNamara (Class 3A)
  • 1987–88 • Providence Catholic (Class 4A)
  • 1987–88 • Bishop McNamara (Class 3A)
  • 1988–89 • Mt. Carmel (Class 6A)
  • 1989–90 • Mt. Carmel (Class 5A)
  • 1990–91 • Mt. Carmel (Class 5A)
  • 1991–92 • Mt. Carmel (Class 5A)
  • 1991–92 • Providence Catholic (Class 4A)
  • 1993–94 • Loyola Academy (Class 6A)
  • 1994–95 • Providence Catholic (Class 5A)
  • 1995–96 • Providence Catholic (Class 4A)
  • 1996–97 • Mt. Carmel (Class 5A)
  • 1996–97 • Providence Catholic (Class 4A)
  • 1997–98 • Providence Catholic (Class 4A)
  • 1998–99 • Mt. Carmel (Class 5A)
  • 1999–2000 • Mt. Carmel (Class 5A)
  • 2000–01 • Mt. Carmel (Class 5A)
  • 2001–02 • Providence Catholic (Class 6A)
  • 2002–03 • Mt. Carmel (Class 6A)
  • 2002–03 • Providence Catholic (Class 5A)
  • 2004–05 • Providence Catholic (Class 6A)
  • 2006–07 • St. Rita (Class 7A)
  • 2012-13 • Mt. Carmel (Class 8A)
  • 2013-14 • Mt. Carmel (Class 7A)

Prep Bowl[edit]

The Prep Bowl is an annual contest played between the Chicago Catholic League and the Chicago Public League and is played at Chicago's Soldier Field. It was first played in 1927, though after a forfeit in 1928, was not played again until 1933, and was the premier high school football event in Illinois until the IHSA formed the state championship football playoffs in 1974. The 1927 game between Mt. Carmel and Carl Schurz High School drew an estimated 50,000 fans; the largest crowd to see a prep football contest in American history, up to that time.[23] In subsequent years, larger crowds were drawn to the annual game.

With the advent of the IHSA state series, the Prep Bowl was contested by the winner of a special playoff in each league played by teams not qualifying for the state playoffs, and teams that were eliminated in early rounds of the state playoffs. It is traditionally played on the Friday after Thanksgiving, which is the same day which the IHSA plays its smaller school state championships in football. As of the 2009 game, the Catholic League holds a 51-23-2 advantage in the series.

In 1981, the IHSA membership voted on a limitation that prohibited member schools from participating in more than nine games, plus the IHSA state series. The Prep Bowl was given a special exemption from this.[24]


State Champions[59]

  • 1986–87 • Loyola Academy (Class AA)
  • 1992–93 • Bishop McNamara (Class A)
  • 1996–97 • Loyola Academy (Class AA)
  • 2000–01 • Loyola Academy (Class AA)
  • 2000–01 • Bishop McNamara (Class A)
  • 2001–02 • Loyola Academy (Class AA)

Swimming and diving[edit]

State Champions[60]

  • 1989–90 • Fenwick
  • 1990–91 • Fenwick
  • 1991–92 • Fenwick

Track and field[edit]

State Champions[61]

  • 1980–81 • Leo (Class A)
  • 1994–95 • Leo (Class AA)
  • 1997–98 • Leo (Class A Co-Champions)
  • 2001–02 • Leo (Class A)
  • 2002–03 • Leo (Class A)
  • 2011-12 • Leo (Class A)

Water Polo[edit]

The IHSA began a state series in water polo with the 2001–02 school year. Prior to that, a high school state championship was sponsored by Illinois Water Polo. There was no Championship Game in 1979 as Water Polo switched from a Fall to a Spring sport.
State Champions[62]
ISA State Champions [63]

  • 1974 • Fenwick
  • 1975 • Mount Carmel
  • 1976 • Fenwick
  • 1977 • Fenwick
  • 1978 • Loyola
  • 1980 • Brother Rice
  • 1981 • Brother Rice
  • 1982 • Brother Rice
  • 1983 • Brother Rice
  • 1984 • Brother Rice
  • 1985 • Brother Rice
  • 1986 • Brother Rice
  • 1987 • St. Laurence
  • 1988 • Brother Rice
  • 1989 • Brother Rice
  • 1990 • Fenwick
  • 1991 • Fenwick
  • 1992 • Fenwick
  • 1993 • Fenwick
  • 1994 • Brother Rice
  • 1995 • Brother Rice
  • 1996 • Brother Rice
  • 1997 • St. Patrick
  • 1998 • Brother Rice
  • 1999 • Fenwick
  • 2000 • Fenwick
  • 2001 • Fenwick

IHSA State Champions

  • 2002 • Fenwick
  • 2003 • Brother Rice
  • 2004 • Fenwick
  • 2005 • Fenwick
  • 2006 • Fenwick
  • 2007 • Fenwick
  • 2008 • Fenwick
  • 2009 • Fenwick
  • 2010 • Fenwick
  • 2011 • Fenwick
  • 2013 • Fenwick
  • 2014 • Loyola


State Champions[64]

  • 1977–78 • Providence Catholic (Class A)
  • 1980–81 • Providence Catholic (Class A)
  • 1987–88 • Providence Catholic (Class AA)
  • 1988–89 • Providence Catholic (Class AA)
  • 1989–90 • St. Laurence (Class AA)
  • 1991–92 • Mount Carmel (Class AA)
  • 1992–93 • Mount Carmel (Class AA)
  • 1993–94 • Mount Carmel (Class AA)
  • 1996–97 • Providence Catholic (Class AA)
  • 1997–98 • Providence Catholic (Class AA)
  • 1998–99 • Providence Catholic (Class AA)
  • 1999–2000 • Providence Catholic (Class AA)
  • 2000–01 • Providence Catholic (Class AA)
  • 2001–02 • Providence Catholic (Class AA)
  • 2002–03 • St. Rita (Class AA)
  • 2003–04 • St. Rita (Class AA)

Notable alumni[edit]

Bishop McNamara

Brother Rice

  • Jim Adduci - former MLB outfielder, starred collegiately at Southern Illinois
  • Bob Cummings - drafted #5 overall in the 1978 MLB Draft by the San Francisco Giants
  • David Diehl - offensive tackle for the New York Giants
  • Mark Donahue - former guard with the Cincinnati Bengals
  • Bobby Frasor - McDonald's HS All-American point guard, starred collegiately at North Carolina, where he won the 2009 national title
  • Phil Hicks - former NBA forward, drafted #27 in 1976 NBA Draft, starred collegiately at Tulane
  • Rico Hill - former NBA forward, drafted #31 in 1999 NBA Draft, starred collegiately at Illinois State
  • Paul Hutchins - tackle for the Green Bay Packers
  • Pete Mackanin - former MLB infielder (1973–81), former manager of Pittsburgh Pirates and Cincinnati Reds
  • John Meyer - former AFL linebacker and NFL assistant coach, starred collegiately at Notre Dame
  • Ed Olczyk - former NHL center and Stanley Cup champion, head coach and broadcaster with the Chicago Blackhawks and Pittsburgh Penguins
  • Quentin Richardson - NBA guard drafted #18 in 2000 NBA Draft, starred collegiately at DePaul
  • Lance Ten Broeck - PGA golfer currently on the Senior Tour, won 1984 Illinois Open Championship, starred collegiately as an All-American at Texas


DePaul Academy


Gordon Tech

  • Chris Bourjos - MLB player for the San Francisco Giants in 1980[66]
  • Greg Bingham - (Class of 1969) – former Houston Oilers linebacker
  • Larry Langowski - wrestler who represented Mexico in the 120 kilogram weight class at the 2008 Summer Olympics[67][68]
  • Robert Meschbach - professional soccer player who set the (then) national high school record with 71 goals in one season; remains an Illinois state record (as of 2008).[69][70]
  • Ron Plantz - (Class of 1982) offensive lineman (center) for University of Notre Dame 1982–1986; offensive lineman (center) for Indianapolis Colts 1987-90
  • Frank Santana - (Class of 1974) 1977 NCAA wrestling National Champion (190 lbs.) and three-time wrestling All-American at Iowa State; first Cuban-American to win a collegiate wrestling national championship.[71]
  • Jitim Young - basketball player who played professionally in Europe and the Dominican Republic[72]

Hales Franciscan

Holy Cross


Loyola Academy

Mount Carmel

St. George

St. Ignatius

  • Tom O'Hara '60, Olympian and former world record holder for indoor mile and NCAA champion in Division I cross country[73]
  • Mark Dalesandro '86, MLB catcher and infielder (1994–1995, 1998–1999, 2001).[73]

St. Laurence

St. Mel

St. Rita

Providence Catholic

  • Pete Bercich - NFL linebacker (1995–98, 2000) for the Minnesota Vikings
  • Brad Guzan - goalkeeper who has played for Chivas USA, the US National Team, and for Aston Villa of the English Premier League. Starting goalkeeper for the 2008 U.S. Olympic team.
  • Carmen Pignatiello - pitched for the Chicago Cubs (2008)
  • Bryan Rekar - Major League Baseball pitcher (1995–2002).
  • Eric Steinbach - NFL offensive lineman



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  2. ^ "Chicago (Brother Rice)". Illinois High School Association (IHSA). 1 April 2010. Retrieved 8 April 2010. 
  3. ^ "Chicago (De La Salle)". Illinois High School Association (IHSA). 1 April 2010. Retrieved 8 April 2010. 
  4. ^ "Chicago (Grodon Tech)". Illinois High School Association (IHSA). 1 April 2010. Retrieved 8 April 2010. 
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  14. ^ "Chicago (St. Rita)". Illinois High School Association (IHSA). 1 April 2010. Retrieved 8 April 2010. 
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  16. ^ Stubits, Emil. "St. Ignatius Quits Catholic League," Chicago Sun-Times, Wednesday, 10 April 1963.
  17. ^ "Last Catholic All-Star". Chicago Tribune. 17 February 1974. pp. b2. A distinguished basketball era will end in DePaul Alumni Hall ... the Chicago Catholic League will tangle in the 29th and last league all-star game ... With the league schools ... joining the Illinois High School Association next fall ... the all-star game ... in violation of IHSA rules, would be eliminated. 
  18. ^ Boys Baseball Champions and Runners-Up, @; accessed 7 October 2008
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  22. ^ a b Boys Football Champions and Runners-Up, @; accessed 7 October 2008
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  24. ^ Shnay, Jerry (24 November 1981). "Football :Prep Bowl may be gone after 1982". Chicago Tribune. pp. d3. The Prep Bowl ... is in danger of being killed ... by a by-law ... This week, all high school principals in Illinois will vote on proposals to amend the Constitution of the IHSA, among them ... a plan that sets limits on all high school sports with a maximum nine game football season not including the state playoffs. 
  25. ^ a b c d e Ford, Liam T.A. Ford (October) [2009]. Soldier Field: A Stadium and Its City (1st ed.). Chicago: University Of Chicago Press.  Check date values in: |date=, |year= (help)
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  28. ^ "Mt. Carmel and Schurz Battle for the Title Today". Chicago Daily Tribune (Chicago: Chicago Tribune). December 3, 1927. 
  29. ^ "Mt. Carmel to Get Another Title Chance". Chicago Daily Tribune (Chicago: Chicago Tribune). November 24, 1933. 
  30. ^ "Mt. Carmel Is Ready for New Title Bid". Chicago Daily Tribune (Chicago: Chicago Tribune). December 2, 1933. 
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  32. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap aq ar as at au av aw ax ay az ba bb bc bd be bf bg bh bi bj bk bl bm bn bo bp bq br bs "Past Prep Bowls". Retrieved July 23, 2014. 
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  40. ^ "Austin Star Hurt as Team Wins 13-0". New York Times (New York City: Associated Press). December 12, 1937. 
  41. ^ "Famed Chicago Prep Visits Southland". Los Angeles Times (Los Angeles). January 1, 1938. 
  42. ^ "Chicago Preps Down Arizona Stars 9-6". Los Angeles Times (Los Angeles: Associated Press). January 2, 1938. 
  43. ^ Burns, Edward (November 28, 1937). "Austin High Conquers Leo 26 to 0 Before Record Crowd". Chicago Daily Tribune (Chicago: Chicago Tribune). 
  44. ^ "120,000 Thrilled by Boy Wonder in Chicago School Gridiron Final". New York Times (Special Edition) (New York). November 28, 1937. 
  45. ^ Shnay, Jerry (November 27, 1987). "50 Years and 120,000 Fans Ago". Chicago Tribune (Chicago: Chicago Tribune). 
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  47. ^ Condon, David (May 28, 1966). "In the Wake of the News". Chicago Tribune (Chicago: Chicago Tribune). 
  48. ^ "Austin All Set to Bring Foot Ball Title Here". Garfieldian (Garfield Park, Chicago). November 25, 1937. 
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  54. ^ Norris, Frank (November 28, 1943). "St. George Beats Phillips, 19-12 for Title". Chicago Tribune (Chicago: Chicago Tribune). 
  55. ^ Condon, David (December 3, 1944). "Tilden Beats Weber for City Title, 13 to 7". Chicago Daily Tribune (Chicago: Chicago Tribune). 
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  57. ^ Doherty, Robert (December 3, 1950). "Lane Indians Find Caravan Much Too Strong for Ambush". Chicago Tribune (Chicago: Chicago Tribune). 
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  62. ^ Boys Water Polo Champions & Runners-Up, @; accessed 7 October 2008
  63. ^ Illinois Water Polo at Illinois Water Polo 2007 All-State Banquet. Retrieved 18 September 2008.
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  66. ^ [1]
  67. ^ Mexican wrestler Langowski a true Chicago story, 1 August 2008, Beacon News; accessed 24 August 2008
  68. ^ Couch, Greg, Mexico's one-man gang, 1 August 2008, Chicago Sun-Times; accessed 24 August 2008
  69. ^ Robert Meschbach bio
  70. ^ IHSA individual all-time boys soccer records
  71. ^ [2]
  72. ^ Jitim Young bio (dleague)
  73. ^ a b St. Ignatius College Prep (Chicago, IL) Athletic Hall of Fame.

External links[edit]