Daily Herald's 2016 Season Coverage
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updated: 9/5/2013 4:51 PM

An opening weekend no coach will soon forget

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  • Marmion's Dan Thorpe has been coaching 33 years and said he has never seen an opening night like last Friday.

      Marmion's Dan Thorpe has been coaching 33 years and said he has never seen an opening night like last Friday.
    Patrick Kunzer | Staff Photographer


So, this is going to be what the 2013 high school football season is all about?

An appropriate slogan for opening weekend could have been "Hurry Up and Wait" as most area teams were forced to wait an extra day to kick off their seasons due to a series of thunderstorms that swept through the western suburbs last Friday night.

I'm just hoping it's not an indication of things to come.

Here's a chronological look at some of the strange things that took place as I prepared to cover Marmion's home debut against Plainfield Central:

5 p.m.: It's getting much darker as I watch out my kitchen window and look toward the north/northwest, so I decide it's time to take a peek at the radar. I see that the National Weather Service has issued a Severe Thunderstorm Warning for Kane County until 5:45 p.m.

Not a good sign.

5:25 p.m.: The power goes out at my house, forcing the family to scramble for flashlights and candles. This can't be a good omen although ordering a pizza for dinner is still an easy task thanks to cellphones.

6:10 p.m.: I seem to be heading straight into the teeth of the storm as I'm driving south on Kirk Road toward Aurora.

6:35 p.m.: As I turn into the school lot, I can see that the stands have been completely evacuated and there isn't a player on the field, as play is suspended during the sophomore game with Marmion leading Plainfield Central, 7-6, with 4:16 remaining until halftime.

6:50 p.m.: Another nasty storm with torrential rain blows right through the area, as standing water begins to form in spots on the field.

7 p.m.: While most people play the waiting game in cars in the parking lot, a few highly adventurous -- or just plain crazy -- students/fans can be seen running from cars toward the school amidst several sky-to-ground lightning bolts.

7:10 p.m.: For the first time in 2 hours, I can see daylight in the north/northeast skies. Unfortunately, the rain is still coming down in buckets.

7:15 p.m.: The rain finally begins letting up although lightning flashes still fill the skies.

7:30 p.m.: It's game time but the only action occurring is inside the Cadets' field house where teams, coaches, officials, and students/fans are stationed waiting for any news regarding a revised starting time.

8:05 p.m.: Marmion head coach Dan Thorpe calls his team into the weight room to inform players that the game has been rescheduled for 11 a.m. Saturday.

"When you've been coaching for 33 years, you've had nights like this," said Thorpe. "But, oh gosh, no -- never on an opening night.

"Back in the day though, we would've kept playing with the lightning off in the distance," added Thorpe. "But in regards to safety with the new rules with lightning and all that, there's not much you can do. You have to let the process take its course."

While worrying about 90-degree-plus temperatures earlier in the day Friday, Thorpe now has to refocus his attention on Saturday.

"I don't even know what the weather is supposed to be tomorrow (Saturday)," Thorpe said last Friday night. "Up until now, I didn't care about the weather tomorrow."

Switching gears is something any football coach can relate to on an everyday basis -- even if it means informing a group of teenage boys they'll have to maintain their focus for another 15 hours.

"We just talked to the kids about being mentally tough," said Thorpe. "We told them to come prepared tomorrow (Saturday) morning and produce."

Produce, they did, as the Cadets (1-0) scored touchdowns on their first 2 offensive possessions to build a 14-0 lead en route to a 25-7 season-opening victory over the Wildcats (0-1).

Mike Montalbano capped a 4-play, 74-yard with his 13-yard touchdown run, then recovered a fumble from his linebacker position on the defensive side of the ball to help set up quarterback Brock Krueger's 2-yard TD run, as the Cadets tallied a pair of TDs over the first 3:50 of the opening quarter -- played in a steady rain.

"I liked the rain (today)," said Montalbano, who gained 158 of the Cadets' 386 rushing yards. "It was cool because it kind of felt like it was a night game."

Saturday's atmosphere was much different from the one players would have experienced last Friday night.

No band, no cheerleaders for either team, then throw in a sparse crowd that made things seem a bit surreal at times.

"We were all pumped up and ready to go last night (Friday) with a huge crowd but the game time kept getting pushed back," said Montalbano.

"The atmosphere was different today (Saturday) but you've got to play football."

Marmion, which visits Ottawa Friday night, may have benefited from the home-field advantage in more than ways than one last weekend.

"I guess we're blessed in that we don't have to get back on a bus and come back tomorrow (Saturday)," added Thorpe. "We're home. That should be a big advantage for us."

It was.

You can reach Craig Brueske can be reached at

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