From the moment its football schedule was announced, Addison Trail's collective eyes turned to Week 9. The annual showdown against Downers Grove South jumped off the slate.
The waiting game ended for the Blazers (8-1, 6-0) on Friday when they pulled out a 20-14 win to claim their first West Suburban Gold Conference title since 2006.
After eight long weeks, the celebration on Addison Trail's field understandably lasted until well after the game ended.
For the Blazers, though, the championship didn't just boil down to the win over Downers South (8-1, 5-1). According to coach Paul Parpet it was the culmination of a nine-week process.
"You've still got to play eight weeks before you get to this point," Parpet said. "I thought we did what we had to do to get here."
Addison Trail, which suffered its lone loss to unbeaten Glenbard West in Week 7, was bound for the playoffs regardless of Friday's result against the previously-unbeaten Mustangs.
Losing a fifth straight game to Downers South, though, would have been a tough pill to swallow.
"No more moral victories from here on out," Parpet said.
St. Charles looks ahead: After St. Charles East defeated St. Charles North 23-21 Friday at Norris Stadium the third straight year the Crosstown Classic was decided by 3 points or less St. Charles East coach Mike Fields was having a difficult time thinking of his seniors.
Since neither team will advance to the playoffs, for the seniors Friday night was the end of their era. Fields, who was celebrating a birthday, loved the conclusion.
Addressing Saints quarterback Charlie Fisher, who ran for 3 touchdowns, Fields said: "I'm going to miss him more than I realize, and I don't want to think about it right now because I'll get all teared up here on my birthday. Me and (senior linebacker) Jake Sheley, it's both of our birthdays, so this is a pretty neat thing for both of us. He and I are tied together now forever with this."
St. Charles East started the season 0-5 before netting its first win against Streamwood, the start of a season-ending 3-of-4 span.
Each week of that early-season oh-fer, however, Fields supported his players' efforts and work ethic. For the Saints to turn things around gave him great pride and with it, sadness on Friday that he'd shared the last sideline with his seniors.
"I can't put it into words," he said. "You're going to miss those seniors, you always do. We didn't get the year we would have wanted, but I think they finished well and you always want to end well. These juniors will carry this into next year and hopefully the seniors go out with a great memory. And it starts over again in a couple weeks."
St. Charles North junior Wes Pasholk sounded like it will happen quicker than that.
A North Stars defensive end along with senior Shawn Meaney, Pasholk sounded motivated not only by the loss to the Saints, but by St. Charles North's 2-7 season in general.
His plan: "Get in the weight room, get big, get everyone in the weight room and just work hard. Get better for next year."
Not that St. Charles North will develop its offense around the halfback pass, but coach Mark Gould's nifty play call of tailback George Edlund taking a pitch and then passing back to quarterback Ryan Fischbach for a 12-yard touchdown displayed the talents of two returning players.
"That's two juniors that hooked up on that play," said Gould, who will be retiring at the end of the 2012-13 school year.
Pasholk, who recorded a tackle for loss and a sack on the same St. Charles East possession, said St. Charles North's returnees feel driven to succeed.
"We just want to come back next year way stronger than ever," he said. "We want to get farther than this. This hurts right here. We want to step it up and be better than this."