For the first time in 10 years, the Town Jug rivalry football game between Elgin and Larkin will be played where it belongs: under Friday night lights.
The last time the Maroons and Royals met in a night game was Sept. 13, 2002. Due to off-field security concerns that evening, the following year's game was moved to Saturday afternoon. It remained that way through 2011.
The schools mutually agreed last spring to return the game to Friday.
The switch adds another level of excitement to the Town Jug game. There's a reason Buzz Bissinger's famous book about high school football was dubbed "Friday Night Lights," not "Saturday Afternoon Tan." Friday football is an event unlike any in high school sports. Saturday regular-season football has all the panache of a ruffled blue tuxedo shirt.
"I think football is awesome on Friday night," Larkin principal Dr. Jon Tuin said. "It's an electric atmosphere. Not that Saturdays aren't fun, but there's something special about Friday night. I think this is good for both Elgin and Larkin.
"In some ways the kids have been suffering for something that happened in the past. I've been particularly proud of this group of students. I think the kids from both Elgin and Larkin deserve this opportunity to see what they can do."
While it is always prudent to err on the side of caution when it comes to matters of public safety, particularly involving minors, the respective high school administrations have chosen to trust this generation with a Friday night game, feeling the time has come. After all, these kids had nothing to do with the 2002, gang-related problem that sparked the switch.
The Elgin and Larkin classes of 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016 deserve this chance to prove they can handle the responsibility. Why should they be any different from student bodies in Chicago or Aurora or a dozen other places where off-field problems also exist, yet Friday night football games persist?
It is a welcome change for the players. To a man they would rather play their chief rival on Friday night than toil under Saturday sun.
The change also benefits the city's youth football players. They normally play their games on Saturday afternoons, which has precluded most from regularly witnessing Elgin's two public high schools dueling for the Town Jug trophy for the last decade.
Nothing gets Pop Warner-aged kids more into football than watching the high school team they might play for someday. Now, they can actually attend the Elgin-Larkin game and pick out a hero's footsteps in which to follow. It can only help the future football participation numbers at each school, which have dropped sharply from 10 years ago.
"It's great for the pee-wee kids, and I think the whole town is really excited about the return to Friday night," Larkin coach Mike Scianna said. "It will be a great opportunity for Elgin to come together as one."
So it's up to you, fan bases of Elgin and Larkin. You are being trusted by your respective schools to shine brighter than the Friday night lights this week. Whether the Town Jug game remains a nighttime affair, as it should be, is largely up to you.
The people in charge at your respective schools are showing faith in you.
Memorial Field turns 50: Elgin High School will salute area veterans when it hosts a 50th Anniversary celebration for Memorial Field before the Maroons face St. Charles East on Saturday, Sept. 22.
All area veterans are invited to attend free. They will be escorted to the center of the field by student athletes during a pre-game ceremony in their honor. The ceremony will feature choir and band performances, a color guard and a tree-planting dedication by local dignitaries.
The Elgin boosters will offer all food items at 50 percent off, plus 50-cent coffee and 50-cent popcorn. Fifty commemorative T-shirts will be given away.