The severe thunderstorm that pelted the Chicago area Friday night didn't just wash out Aurora Central Catholic's season opener and home kickoff with Oostburg (Wis.) High School. It potentially made ACC's quest for a second straight IHSA playoff berth slightly more difficult to weather.
When lightning flashes still hadn't dissipated as of 9:50 p.m. Friday, ACC alerted Oostburg's coaching staff that their game would have to be postponed.
The schools' athletic directors and head coaches had discussed the possibility of rescheduling the game for 6 p.m. Saturday in Aurora. But after conferring with his staff and with some of his players' parents, Oostburg coach Scott Ring elected not to reschedule the game as of 10 p.m. Friday.
Located north of Milwaukee, Oostburg is roughly a three-hour drive from ACC, Ring said. He was concerned that driving to and from Aurora twice in two days would negatively affect his players' preparedness for the game as well as other logistical problems from such long travel.
ACC coach Brian Casey understood Oostburg's predicament but wasn't sure if Oostburg declining ACC's offer to play Saturday would give the Chargers a forfeit victory. Every win is important in ACC's pursuit of back-to-back playoff appearances. The Chargers reached the playoffs last season for the first time since 1997.
"Since we offered to reschedule the game on Saturday, if they turn us down it might be considered a forfeit on their part," Casey said. "We'll have to look into it to determine if that's the case. Every game is important."
Either way, the cancellation was disheartening to the coaches, players and fans, Casey said. With 13 returning starters from a rare playoff squad and John Belskis joining ACC's staff after 33 years as Downers Grove South's head coach, expectations are high at Aurora Central, not only for another playoff bid but also for a shot at the Suburban Christian Conference Gold Division title.
"The kids are disappointed, as are the coaches," Casey said. "We've been looking forward to this game and this season all offseason. The guys are so excited. They're ready to run through a brick wall at this point. They just can't wait to play and get this season started. We have big hopes for the season."
Ring said Oostburg was willing to wait well into the night to play Friday's game after the Dutchmen's coaches, players and fans traveled more than three hours to arrive at ACC. But lightning continued flashing in the sky up until 10 p.m. and showed no signs of slowing down.
IHSA rules stipulate that once officials spot lightning in the area, a game must be delayed and cannot begin or continue until no lightning is seen for 30 minutes. Heavy rains ended at ACC around 8 p.m., but lightning continued flashing until the game was officially postponed.
Both schools' schedules were booked up for the remainder of the season, leaving Saturday as the only date available to reschedule.
The cancellation was the first for ACC's football program since a game with Marengo was canceled in 2011 due to thunderstorms, Casey said.
ACC's new season opener is now a Sept. 7 visit to Chicago Bogan. The Chargers' new home opener is Sept. 20 against Chicago Christian.