DEPUE — The DePue Little Giants have found a new home.
Beginning with the 2020-21 school year, DePue will leave the Tri-County Conference in favor of the Little Ten Conference.
DePue athletic director Robbie Fox said the Little Ten will be a good fit for the Little Giants facing schools closer in size.
"We are very excited to be a new member in the Little Ten next year," she said. "We already have been playing many of the schools in non-conference matches, so we are comfortable with each other. Our teams fit in well with the schools in the Little Ten when comparing the size of our teams.
"This next year is something we are very much looking forward to and being a part of a conference that has a long history of greatness."
The Little Ten will go back to being 10-member strong with the addition of DePue. It has nine schools presently with Paw Paw annexing into Indian Creek last year.
DePue (120 students) will be the second smallest school in the Little Ten. It was also the second smallest in the Tri-County, which has an average enrollment of 205.4 this year, topped by Seneca at 440. Only Lowpoint-Washburn (108) is smaller than DePue in the Tri-County.
DePue's addition will give the Little Ten an average enrollment of 167.6. Somonauk is the largest school in the conference with 274 students. Leland is the smallest with 78.
Other league members are Earlville (133), Hinckley-Big Rock (209), Kirkland Hiawatha (168), Indian Creek (208), LaMoille-Ohio (88/37), Leland (78), Newark (161), Somonauk (274) and Serena (220).
DePue has been a member of the Tri-County Conference since the 2008-09 school year. It was in the Indian Valley Conference previously.
The DePue boys basketball team has faced three Little Ten teams this year, beating Hiawatha (69-60 in overtime) and HBR (46-26) last month, while falling to LaMoille-Ohio 42-34 Tuesday.
Little Giants coach Charlie Klinefelter likes the competition the Tri-County presents, but is looking forward to the next challenges of the Little Ten.
"They've got Newark in there, and Indian Creek is a monster this year. They look really good," Klinefelter said, in reference to undefeated Indian Creek's No. 5 ranking in 1A.
The Little Ten Conference is well known for its soccer programs and will provide DePue a better opportunity for its teams as well as other activities.
"We are hoping to add track, cross country, and scholastic bowl to our high school activities for competitions in Little Ten," Fox said.
Little Ten Conference schools
Hinckley-Big Rock 209
Indian Creek 208
Kirkland Hiawatha 168
Putnam County 280
Peoria Christian 246