South Elgin's showing off some serious upgrades
Lights, camera filming station, action.
South Elgin football fans may have to wait a couple weeks for it -- what's a couple more weeks? -- but it's all coming together for the first time on campus this fall.
Thanks to $1.4 million dedicated by Elgin Area School District U-46 for the project's cost, the Storm's stadium has been outfitted with LED lighting around the football field, a new permanent press box sits atop the home bleachers and the track encircling the field is getting renovated.
"It's really great, they're investing in the kids and in the community, which is awesome," said Storm football coach Dragan Teonic.
"I like it. I like Friday. Let's be honest, there's just nothing like high school Friday night lights."
Since 2011 South Elgin football had played at home on Saturdays an oft-blazing sun. That in itself was a win after the South Elgin High School Booster Foundation raised the funds necessary to execute Phase I, a home stadium. From its 2006 inception until 2011 the Storm had shared Streamwood's Millennium Field with Bartlett and the host Sabres.
Scheduling-wise that had to be a three-team circus. At a football-centric level South Elgin's new lighting situation lends consistency to the week.
"This is nice," Teonic said, "every single Friday's the same and every single Saturday's the same."
South Elgin folk got a taste of what's to come with the Aug. 23 "Taste Under the Lights" featuring food trucks and a tasty selection of Storm athletic teams. The first home football game is Sept. 13 against Elgin.
"It's a local opponent and we should have a great crowd," Teonic said. "A lot of people are buzzing about it."
End of an era
Or is it an eon? It seems like West Aurora has been playing East Aurora in football forever, and for practical purposes it has.
That ends this season.
West Aurora's move to the Southwest Prairie Conference has the Blackhawks playing their first four games against crossover opponents out of the SPC East division before five straight games in the SPC West. There's no room for an East Aurora on this schedule.
"It'll be sad," said West Aurora coach Nate Eimer. "I think for the communities it's tough but it is kind of what it is."
What it was had become a lopsided affair that saw West Aurora beat the Tomcats 18 straight times. Last year West Aurora won 51-0 at Ken Zimmerman Field.
Interestingly, in a rivalry that debuted in 1893, those 18 straight victories snapped what had been a draw and gave West Aurora a series lead of 66 wins to 48 losses and 12 ties.
Despite the recent domination, "it's absolutely a rivalry," Eimer maintained. "When you've been playing people since 1893 that's a rivalry."
He hopes it will become one again.
"I think we'll renew it and it'll be a good thing," he said.
Less is more
Acclimatization, schmacclimatization. Bartlett got ahead of that curve. It utilized 16 days of summer camp rather than the full 25.
"We want them hungry for when the season comes," said coach Matt Erlenbaugh.
The Hawks didn't just lounge poolside those other nine days. The plan combined mental rest, playbook cramming, planning and steady lifting.
The first two weeks, or eight total days, were spent on football activities. Erlenbaugh introduced his new offense and reintroduced the defense "really quickly so we forced the guys to learn or they'd fall behind," he said.
The next two weeks he encouraged players to attend one-day camps at colleges where they could realistically expect to play and attend given their abilities and intended majors.
The Fourth of July week was entirely free, then the team returned for eight days of football.
Erlenbaugh noted there was lifting and conditioning throughout within Bartlett's Strength and Performance Camp open to all Hawks athletes. Can't get soft.
In 2018, his first year as Hawks head coach, Bartlett went 23 days over the summer. The team won five more games than it had in 2017.
"I think we'll get a pretty decent idea the first few games and see where we're at, and throughout the year, too -- how fresh we are, how long we can go without getting tired," Erlenbaugh said.
He's no cupcake, just sensible.
"Sometimes I feel like it can be overkill a little bit," he said.
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