A pair of Prairieland Conference schools will consider joining the Lincoln Trail Conference at their March school board meetings.

A pair of Prairieland Conference schools will consider joining the Lincoln Trail Conference at their March school board meetings.

The LTC has extended invitations to Abingdon-Avon and Knoxville to join the conference starting with the 2021-22 school year.

The Abingdon-Avon school board met Wednesday (March 13) and consideration of the LTC move was on the agenda.

“We are interested in joining the Lincoln Trail Conference,” said Abingdon-Avon High School Principal Brad Weedman.

Weedman said A-Town was approached by LTC officials, the A-Town administration then discussed the proposal and brought it to the district’s school board.

“The Lincoln Trail has been a solid conference for quite a while,” Weedman said. “It’s very competitive in all sports.”

Weedman said the LTC has made overtures to Abingdon-Avon in the past, but added “maybe the timing is a little better now.”

The Knoxville board meets Monday, March 18. On the agenda as a discussion and action item is the “approval of an invitation to join the Lincoln Trail Conference for high school interscholastic activities beginning with the 2021-22 school year.”

Knoxville Athletic Director Heather Smith led a presentation at the district’s February school board meeting on the invitation to join the LTC.

Prior to the invite from the LTC, Smith said some pending changes in the Prairieland Conference football scene prompted Knoxville to consider its options. North Fulton informed the Prairieland it was going to 8-man football starting with the 2019 season, and Peoria Heights was going to follow suit with 8-man football in 2020.

The Prairieland considered the additions of West Hancock and Macomb to compensate for the loss of two football teams, but the two schools didn’t get the necessary 75 percent vote to join the conference.

Smith said the possible additions of West Hancock and Macomb “didn’t make sense” for Knoxville, which helped spark interest in the LTC.

Knoxville officials were aware of the overtures the Lincoln Trail had made to Abingdon-Avon, and reached out to express their interest in joining the LTC. 

“We have had very good feedback from our coaches and school board members,” Smith said. “I think it’s a reasonable fit for us.”

Smith said the LTC works geographically for Knoxville, and the Blue Bullets have developed good relationships with LTC schools through non-conference contests.

If Knoxville accepts the LTC invite at Monday night’s meeting, Smith views the exit as a two-year transition for the Blue Bullets that will have a minimal impact on the Prairieland, especially with Illinois High School Association member schools approving district football scheduling starting with the 2021-22 season.

Smith stopped short of predicting the outcome of Knoxville’s pending board vote, adding again that there’s been no negative feedback from the community or board.

“I guess we’ll see Monday night,” Smith said.