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Labor Day weekend included a little bit of everything for everybody.
As Yogi Berra might say, it was a case of déjà vu all over again for local high school football teams.
For the second consecutive season, most of the Friday night season openers were suspended and rescheduled for Saturday due to nearby thunderstorms/lightning.
You could say it was an electric start -- pun intended.
At Fifth Third Bank Ballpark in Geneva, nearly 26,000 fans attended the Kane County Cougars' final regular-season series against the Peoria Chiefs.
Midwest League Manager of the Year Mark Johnson's team (franchise-record 91 wins against 49 losses) awaits this week's best-of-3 divisional playoff series against the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers.
Game 2 is scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday at Fifth Third Bank Ballpark with Game 3, if necessary, slated for Friday night.
The Cougars compiled a team-record 54-17 home mark this season.
There was even a celebrity wedding held in St. Charles this past weekend as former The View co-host Jenny McCarthy exchanged nuptials with actor Donnie Wahlberg Sunday at the Hotel Baker.
Week 1 of the high school football campaign included a wild and crazy finish in Batavia, an offensive fireworks show enjoyed by Geneva at West Aurora and a defensive gem turned in at St. Charles North.
At Batavia, the defending Class 6A state champion Bulldogs saw their 12-game winning streak come to a sudden end during a heart-stopping 40-38 loss to Oswego.
While the Bulldogs were often their own worst enemy, particularly when a personal foul face mask penalty allowed the Panthers one final untimed play from Batavia's 24-yard line, they also displayed a high-powered passing attack.
Led by right-handed junior quarterback Kyle Niemiec (17-for-20, 161 yards) and left-handed senior Evan Acosta (159 yards passing), the Bulldogs amassed 320 yards through the air during the nonconference defeat.
In addition, the Bulldogs also unveiled another weapon named Coffey.
Only this one catches rather than throws the ball.
Junior Canaan Coffey caught 13 passes for a game-high 164 yards and 2 touchdowns -- capped by his 17-yard TD reception from Niemiec that gave the Bulldogs a 38-34 lead with 30 seconds remaining.
At West Aurora, veteran quarterback Daniel Santacaterina completed 12 of 17 aerials for 183 yards and 3 touchdowns during Geneva's 41-23 Upstate Eight Conference crossover triumph last Saturday.
Santacaterina, who has committed to attend Northern Illinois University (where his older brother Michael is a starting linebacker) found favorite receiver Pace Temple 5 times for 88 yards, connected with running back Max Woodworth on a 17-yard TD pass and completed 4 passes to 6-foot-6 senior target Mike Landi.
Barring injury, Geneva should continue to score plenty of points this fall.
At St. Charles North, the North Stars flexed their defensive muscles during a 13-2 nonconference win over Elk Grove.
Juniors Brendan Joyce and Jake Spaniol each had interceptions as the North Stars limited the Grenadiers to just 125 total yards (40 rushing, 85 passing).
Senior Nathan Didier may have lost the starting quarterback position to junior Kyle Novotney but it didn't keep him from making a big special teams contribution.
Prior to Friday's suspended play, Didier returned the game's opening kickoff 85 yards for a touchdown as the North Stars grabbed a 6-0 advantage.
Novotney, who accumulated 140 yards of total offense, helped put the game out of reach with his second-half touchdown run. St. Charles North also received an offensive lift from juniors Billy Duhownik (7 carries, 30 yards) and receiver Jayson Reckards (3 catches, 31 yards).
At St. Charles East, the Saints gave up 28 unanswered fourth-quarter points during their 49-14 UEC crossover loss to South Elgin.
"Defensively, we just weren't able to stop them at times," said Saints coach Bryce Farquhar.
South Elgin was especially lethal on third down, converting 7-of-12 attempts.
This was the breakdown:
Third-and-9: A 38-yard touchdown pass from Hayden Nelson to Derek Kumerow on South Elgin's opening series.
Third-and-16: A 30-yard pass from Nelson to Nick Menken. The Saints avoided disaster thanks in part to Mitch Guillaume's blocked field goal.
Third-and-6: A 19-yard TD run by Storm backup quarterback Jake Amrhein.
Third-and-9: A 17-yard TD pass from Amrhein to Menken.
The game's turning point occurred on the final play of third quarter -- once again on third down.
Clinging to a 21-14 lead and faced with a 3rd-and-12 play from its own 19, Kyle Ware got behind the Saints' secondary and Nelson found him for a 79-yard pass that eventually set up the first of 4 insurance scores.
"Big plays really killed us," said Farquhar.
Playing without senior tailback Jordan Glasgow (injury), Marmion relied on a running back-by-committee that included halfbacks Noel Abraham (2 TD runs), Sean Campbell (39-yard TD run) and punishing fullback Lucas Warren to down host Plainfield Central 26-7.
Aurora Central Catholic and Aurora Christian received huge opening day performances from Brandon Babler and Austin Bray, respectively, to record nonconference victories.
Babler scored touchdowns on runs covering 39 and 10 yards and added a 35-yard interception return for another TD during the Chargers' 21-7 victory over Wauwatosa East (Wis.).
Meanwhile, Bray picked up where he left off a year ago, throwing 6 touchdown passes during the Eagles' 42-6 rout of Senn. Jacolby Maxwell had 10 catches for 138 yards and a pair of TDs while St. Charles North transfer Nick Edlund made 4 TD receptions in his Aurora Christian debut -- which was also David Beebe's head coaching debut.
You can reach Craig Brueske at firstname.lastname@example.org
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