The top 20 conferences in the Friday Night Drive conference countdown often have something that defines them.
In many cases, they include a number of programs with some heavy hardware sitting in their respective trophy cases.
There are some conferences that are extremely well-regarded and some of them might be a surprise they aren't locked into spots in the Top 10.
These are all very good leagues, but in many cases, some of them are very top heavy. Some of those top-heavy teams set a standard that's hard to match, but those programs that are struggling to get any kind of a foothold inside their conferences do tend to bring down the overall ratings – some regardless of how good their frontrunners might be.
Here's a look at the conferences ranked 20 through 11 in the Friday Night Drive conference rankings:
20. Central Suburban South (Decade rating: 72.168): Maine South is doing a lot of the heavy lifting in regards to this conference's rating. But the steadiness of several other programs such as Glenbrook North and New Trier is what elevates the league above others that have one stronghold that is leading the way.
19. West Suburban Silver (Decade rating: 74.573): Glenbard West is the gold standard in this conference, but the solid depth that surrounds it is what helps secure a Top 20 conference rating. Hinsdale Central and Lyons certainly qualify as above average in the rankings, while Oak-Park River Forest has had some solid flashes as well.
18. Western Illinois Valley North (Decade rating: 75.332): Camp Point Central sets the standard in this league, but there are several other teams in this division that have posted big scores in isolated seasons such as Triopia, Beardstown and Brown County. Even the lowest-rated team in this conference, Jacksonville Routt, has tossed in one double-digit individually-scored season.
17. DuPage Valley (Decade rating: 75.501): Five of the six teams in this league have dropped some very big individual season scores at one time or another, and while that's impressive, very few of them have been able to sustain success for more than a year or two. The sheer number of big individual seasons help make up for the lack of consistent threats.
16. Fox Valley (Decade rating: 77.1): The Fox Valley is a very good league, but the locked conference hinders them a bit in this scoring system. Cary-Grove and Prairie Ridge are very consistent performers that stack up well against just about everybody as individual entities, but the locked conference puts a cap on how much regular season scoring the league can do. And while there are solid performers in this conference outside of the two aforementioned squads, very few of them have done much postseason damage at any point in time.
15. Northwest Upstate Illini South (Decade rating: 78.565): This is one instance where the playoff bracketing system hurts a conference. The quadrant system really hindered the postseason advancement for anyone other than the top dog in the league that year as they often feed on their own. Forreston, Freeport Aquin and Lanark Eastland are all very good football programs, but more often than not, only one of them is able to stack up playoff points in any given year because of the pounding handed out by other teams in their own division and crossover opponents that are all in the same postseason classification.
14. Southwestern (Decade rating: 78.832): This is consistently a two-horse race, but the dominance displayed by East St. Louis at times carries this league quite nicely. The Flyers have had an off season or two as well in the decade (one was extremely hampered by a teacher's strike that caused a very solid team to be ineligible for playoff consideration). Edwardsville has been a well-above-average program, but basically consistent solid production from nearly everyone else in the loop keeps the Southwestern in this lofty area.
13. North Suburban (Decade rating: 79): Half of this league's membership has made at least one appearance in a state championship game over the course of the last decade. That speaks to the great balance this league provides. It also has an excellent record in nonconference regular-season games, which speaks to the conference's ability to step out on their own and succeed. There hasn't been a single season where the productivity would be classified as anything but above average.
12. Three Rivers Rock (Decade rating: 84.714): Although it's hard for one team to entirely pull up the conference's rating as a whole and it's not 100 percent the case here either, but the rather immense success of Sterling Newman Central Catholic lays the groundwork for this league's rating being really formidable. Assists from Morrison and Orion help get the Three Rivers Rock within striking distance of the Top 10.
11. Northwest Upstate Illini North (Decade rating: 85): As discussed in the NW Upstate Illini South ranking, this is another conference that suffers from the geographic congestion that happens in the northern portion of the Class 1A bracket. Several teams are often more than capable of making deep postseason runs, but the north bracket often finds teams from the NUIC running into each other far too soon and doesn't allow for a whole bunch of playoff points to be attained by multiple schools. Lena-Winslow is the clear exception to this theory as it piled up a treasure trove of points in this system, particularly in recent seasons.