Tiger fever heating up


The Paris Tiger football team ended a magnificent regular season schedule with a 58-16 win over the Flora Wolves Friday night, taking outright the Little Illini Conference Championship.

The victory gave the Tigers an undefeated 9-0 record — the first unblemished record since the 1963 Paris team under Coach Joe Doglio accomplished the feat 55 years ago.

The Paris Tigers find out tonight who they face in the first round of the IHSA football playoffs. The annual Illinois High School Association (IHSA) Football Playoff Pairing Show will be shown on NBC Sports Chicago, and the program will airs live from 8-10 p.m. today.

The IHSA Football Playoff Pairing Show, which reveals the brackets and first round match-ups of all 256 playoff qualifiers across eight classes, can also be viewed via live stream beginning at 8 p.m, Saturday NBCSportsChicago.com/WatchLive or on Facebook Live Facebook.com/NBCSChicago. The show will not be available on local cable but DirectTV and Dish TV subscribers can find it on channels 665 and 429/hopper 412-19, respectively.

The PHS team, coaches and parents will gather in The Den this evening to watch the show and find out the pairings and seeding — and whether the Tigers will get a home playoff game — a first for the school. Lot 50 on East Court Street is also showing the playoff show.

For those not familiar with the playoff announcement, one of the first announcements made will be what the eight class system enrollment cutoffs are for the 2018 playoffs. This is of particular interest to the Paris school as projections are the Tigers could be the smallest 4A school or the largest 3A school.

According to the Illinois High School Association (IHSA), it is important to remember a school's classification is not determined until the 256-team field has been selected on the final day of the season. The classes used in the Associated Press polls are a best guess at the final determinations, but they are unofficial and can be misleading. The fact the AP ranks a school all season in a certain class has no bearing on the school's ultimate classification in the state playoffs. This can be determined only at season's end — after the entire 256-team field is selected.

After the qualifiers have been determined, the schools are broken down into 8 classes of 32 teams each, based on the school's classification enrollment (from last year's report to the Illinois State Board of Education. The largest 32 schools based on the official enrollment figures are placed in Class 8A, the next largest in Class 7A, and so on down to Class 1A. If a tie should occur for the final spot in a particular class, a coin flip is used to break the tie.

Once the 32 teams in a particular class are determined, the teams in Class 1A through 6A are grouped by the IHSA into two 16 team halves. This is based on the general locations of the schools within that class.

The seeds are based on total wins, combined wins of all opponents and combined wins of defeated opponents. Then the teams are paired according to a standard bracket. In a 16-team field, the pairings are #1 vs. #16, #2 vs. #15, etc. In a 32-team field, the pairings are #1 vs. #32, #2 vs. #31, etc., the IHSA information indicates.

Tiger fever has reached a roiling pitch in the community with businesses, homes and schools turning orange and black in preparation for playoff week. Businesses both on the square and throughout the community have painted their windows and decorated in support of the team.

At ONP Signs on Milton Street, Mike Hobson has printed somewhere around 150 signs. “We printed a few up last week. Kathy Porter bought one and posted a picture on Facebook Thursday and things just went nuts,” Hobson said. Orders were coming in from parents, grandparents and fans. Even alumni who live outside the area were messaging ONP Signs Thursday evening until 11:30 p.m., ordering signs to be used for football players and local decoration efforts.

Hobson said additional supplies are arriving Tuesday. “We can take orders Monday and Tuesday for more signs,” he said. “We were selling them as fast as we were making them the last couple of days,” he said.

PHS interim principal Lorraine Bailey announced today a community pep rally is planned Friday, Oct. 26, at Tiger Stadium. The Beacon Brigade will perform its award-winning show beginning at 6:30 p.m., followed by pep band music until the pep rally at 7 p.m.

“We’re still in the planning stages and things are fluid right now,” Bailey said. She said the PHS class of 1968 is sponsoring a professional fireworks show for the pep rally and the Tiger will be set up for the introduction of the team. “Of course our cheerleaders will be involved,” she said. More information will be available next week.

Paris Athletic Director Creighton Tarr said if the Tigers are awarded a home playoff game, there are several changes from a regular season game.

“We will not know the exact time and date until I found out who we play and I speak with their AD,” Tarr said this week. “We are wanting to host on Saturday afternoon but we will not know for sure until that conversation takes place.”

If there is a home game, gates at Tiger Stadium will be unlocked for fans to enter 2½ hours before kickoff, Tarr said. “We will not allow anyone to save bleacher seats blankets or plastic material until the gates are opened,” he said.

Football players, cheerleaders and band members are being asked to enter the east entrance and park on the south side of the school by the tennis courts to provide more parking spaces for spectators.

Tarr emphasized no passes will be accepted for the playoff game. “The IHSA sets the price of admission for playoff games,” he said. Children, students, adults and senior citizens must all pay $5 per person. “There will be no passes — staff passes, family season passes and Little Illini Conference passes – accepted,” he noted. “Everyone must pay the $5.”

“This is a great opportunity for our community to showcase our football program, our school and our town,” Tarr said. “Let’s make this an unbelievable atmosphere and show everyone what we have.”