The Bartlett football team on Saturday sampled what a growing number of Americans have tried -- working from home.
For the first time since the fourth of Elgin Area School District U-46's five high schools started playing football in 1998, the Hawks competed in a varsity game on Bartlett soil.
Once the 42-7 homecoming victory over East Aurora was in the books, first-year coach Eric Ilich and Bartlett athletic director Jeff Bral met at midfield and shook hands.
"We made it," Bral said after a sigh, referencing the year of behind-the-scenes work and logistics that went into planning the school's first on-campus game.
"We made it," Ilich responded through an exasperated smile.
Saturday's game was a one-time event designed to kick start a fundraising campaign that will eventually pay for a permanent athletic activity complex. Though the Hawks plan to return to Streamwood's Millennium Field for the season's final home game on Oct. 21, experiencing the first football game held in the shadow of their own high school meant a great deal to Ilich and his players.
"It felt great. Especially in the morning when we just came out here and didn't have to get on a bus or anything to go somewhere else," said Bartlett senior running back Vanshon Lindsey, who rushed for 113 yards and 2 touchdowns on 16 carries. "It was good to come here, stay here and win."
"It's a big deal," Ilich said. "You could feel the pride just in our walk-through (Friday) and our walk-through (Saturday) morning. There's a sense of pride in playing here, something we haven't felt. Usually, we get our jitters out taking the bus to Streamwood or to an away game. But we're out here where we have more time to work really, to prepare.
"Everything just came together: the administration, the boosters, the assistant coaches, the players, the players' parents. It was an all-hands-on-deck deal, and it was fun. It was fun to play here. Hopefully, this is the first of many. If I have my way, it will be."
East Aurora (1-6, 0-4) gave the Hawks a tough time early. The Tomcats picked up 2 first downs on their opening drive and moved 31 yards in 10 plays before the Bartlett defense stuffed running back Nasir Phillips on a 1-yard gain shy of a first down.
"The first drive was a great drive. We had fun," East Aurora coach Kurt Becker said. "Then we came down on fourth-and-2 and had a missed assignment that stalled the drive. But we've got internal issues and until we fix those issues we're going to struggle."
Bartlett (3-4, 2-1) led 7-0 after a quarter, thanks to quarterback Joey Daum's 25-yard keeper -- the first touchdown on the new field -- and the point after kick by Tommy Krolikowski.
The Hawks eventually wore down the Tomcats, who play several key athletes on both sides of the ball. Bartlett scored 21 second-quarter points to break the game open. Lindsey scored twice in the second quarter on a 40-yard dash down the left sideline and a 2-yard run. In between, Bartlett got tricky.
Leading 14-0 and facing fourth-and-goal at the 12, Ilich called for a fake field goal. It worked to perfection as senior Nick Miceli, the third-string quarterback who played the position at the lower levels, lined up as the kicker with usual kicker Krolikowski at holder. Miceli took the direct snap, rolled right and lofted a 12-yard touchdown pass to 6-foot-3 senior TJ Nicoll.
"The ref actually came up to me after the play and told me he knew it was going to be a fake because he knew I was the holder," Miceli said.
The Hawks gained 446 total yards while holding East Aurora to 243. Daum completed 19 of 25 passes, including his last 10 attempts, for 209 yards. His lone touchdown pass of 42 yards to Chris Sanft with 2:02 left in the third quarter extended Bartlett's lead to 42-0.