To celebrate the 50th anniversary of Elgin High School football at Memorial Stadium, on Saturday scores of Maroons athletes, band and choir members, high school administrators and even Elgin Mayor Dave Kaptain assembled to honor more than 20 local war veterans.
And then the Saints came marching in.
St. Charles East added solemnity to the occasion, winning the Upstate Eight Conference River Division game 58-14.
In the first quarter alone the Saints tallied 37 points, scoring six times on offense, once on defense and once on special teams, and their 51-6 halftime lead meant a running clock the entire the second half. St. Charles East's 58 points -- on an amazingly low 208 yards of offense due to short fields -- were the most it's scored since a 65-29 win over Larkin in Week 5 of the 2006 season.
"(Elgin coach Dave Bierman) is a great coach, he's a dear friend," said St. Charles East coach Mike Fields. "This is always a tough one. We're competitive in nature but you never like to see stuff like this. I don't like scores like this, I just don't. I'm glad no one got out of it hurt on both sides. We'll move forward, they'll move forward and go from there."
St. Charles East fullback Joe Hoscheit, who opened the scoring on a 3-yard run behind lead blocks from back Jon Finn and left guard Brennan Bosch and added touchdown runs of 20 and 1 yards, was reminded of the Saints' prior game, a 33-0 loss to Neuqua Valley. The Saints (3-2, 2-0) showed good sportsmanship to their undermanned hosts -- only 21 Maroons were in uniform, with top back Jaylen Clemons and receiver Joe DeBrocke out for what Bierman called "school-related issues" -- as players from both teams picked each other off the field.
"Give them a lot of credit for what they have," Hoscheit said. "Coming off the last two years, that was us almost. We totally respect them and respect them as opponents. We've been there, done that. Hopefully we're over and done with that. It was just good sportsmanship on both sides of the ball and I think it was just a good team win."
Two Hoscheit touchdowns and a Saints safety on defensive end Andrew Szyman's sack of Maroons quarterback Ryan Sitter in the end zone gave St. Charles East a 16-0 lead at 7:42 of the first quarter.
Elgin (0-5, 0-3) showed a spark when after Sitter passed 8 yards to Mitch Poltersdorf, sophomore back Malik Dunner, in his second varsity game, took a pitch to the left sideline 68 yards for a touchdown. Dunner finished with 105 yards on 16 carries.
"You can see the speed he possesses," Bierman said. "Sometimes it's staying on the block a half a second longer just to get him loose a little bit, because he's definitely an impact player. You've got to give him a seam. I don't know how much of a hole he needs, but he needs at least a seam to get that explosion going."
Stemming any Maroons momentum, a Saints interception by Anthony Sciarrino led to Jimmy Mitchell's 25-yard touchdown pass to Erik Anderson. After a defensive stop Sciarrino returned a punt 49 yards for a touchdown as the Saints proceeded to score 35 unanswered points.
"I saw it off the foot really well, and the blocking set up perfectly," Sciarrino said. "We put in the middle wedge this week in practice and I took it right up the middle, then the blocking did the rest. I just had to beat one guy," Sciarrino said.
In the speedy third quarter Elgin's Dunner and Isaac Narayan teamed up for their own defensive safety, and Sitter tossed a touchdown pass to Ray Dunigan.
"They keep coming, keep trying," Bierman said. "We'll keep getting better, that's all we can do."