If there's someone who knows how to tailgate a high-school football game in style, that's Dan Hilliard and his father-in-law, Dale Berman.
The pair fed a crowd of about 100 relatives and friends on Saturday outside Huskie Stadium in DeKalb before watching Batavia High School defeat Richards High School for the 6A state title.
Their setup included three heater-warmed tents featuring a variety of beverages, snacks and hot foods, along with several bar-style tall tables and a 32-inch flat-screen TV.
Hilliard, the president of the Bulldog Boosters, said he and Berman, the mayor of North Aurora, usually arrive five hours before game time to set everything up.
"We've been doing this for 12 years," he said. "We just like it. It's all about football."
Despite the relatively mild temperature in the mid-40s, Cyndy Gette of Batavia and her sons Holter, 11, and Carter, 13, came armed with blankets and sleeping bags. They just weren't going to take any chances after last week's game against Rockford Boylan, they said.
"They were saying it was the coldest playoff game in history," Gette said. "We go to every game and every playoff game. We're always there."
Watching Montini Catholic High School, which had won state four consecutive years, fall to Sacred-Heart Griffin High School in the 5A final was upsetting, Montini graduate Danielle Pohlman of Lombard said. Both teams were undefeated.
"I'm sad for the boys, for the school. We win as a team, lose a team," Pohlman said.
Theodora "Theo" Fleckles of Elmhurst, whose son Ted is Montini's freshman head football coach, agreed.
"They really wanted to hand Coach A (Chris Andriano) an undefeated season, which they have never done. But we have to thank them for a great season," Fleckles said.
High school games are always exciting, Lombard resident Rich Pedersen said.
"These kids care about the game. These kids play with heart," Pedersen said. "It's amazing to watch."
It's also about the camaraderie, said his friend Dan Quick, uncle of Montini linebacker Tyler Quick.
"In high school football, every parent has a connection with the players. You feed off each other's energy," he said.
Robbins resident Dennis Rogers, father of Richards' All-State junior quarterback Hasan Muhammad-Rogers, said he often has to fight back tears while watching his son on the field -- whether his team wins or loses.
"I'm so proud of him," Dennis Rogers said. "I always push him to do good. No matter what he did do, I always point out the things he didn't do. My biggest thing is for him to get to college."
For 5-year-old Grayson Smith of Sugar Grove, the day was memorable for an entirely different reason.
"I lost my tooth in the parking lot!" Grayson said, not without a hint of pride. He was very excited about the Tooth Fairy's first visit, he explained.
And what about football? "I like it," said Grayson, who just joined a flag football team. "I like running and exercising."
Brad Schonder of Addison and his son, Brad Jr., came with a half dozen friends to watch Lake Zurich High School face off against Mt. Carmel High School. Lake Zurich ended up losing to Mount Carmel, 30-0.
"I love high school football. The pageantry, the competition. They actually play for the love of the game," the elder Schonder said.
"A lot of them are seniors and it's the last time they will ever wear the football jersey. There's a lot to be said for that."
In 8A action, Naperville Central defeated Loyola 13-10 on Saturday night, winning the school's first title since 1999.