Friday Night Lights arrive at South Elgin
South Elgin football is ready for prime time.
Thanks to a $1.4 million investment by Elgin Area School District U-46 to install four banks of LED lights, a large press box and replace the track, South Elgin will play the first on-campus night football game in the 15-year-old school's history Friday at 7:30 p.m. against Elgin.
"Everyone is excited -- the kids, the teachers, the whole community," athletic director Mike Jezioro said. "There's an extra pep in everybody's step this week. Everyone is extremely excited about Friday night."
The South Elgin varsity hosted several night games at Streamwood's Millennium Field, which it called home from its 2006 inception through 2011.
A fundraising campaign directed by the South Elgin High School Booster Foundation culminated in the construction of an on-campus stadium that opened in 2012. Lights were not included in the first phase of the plan. Thus, the football team spent the next seven seasons playing home games in the Saturday sun.
The advent of home night games is particularly welcome news for the players. Senior linebacker/running back Vince Clinite, a three-year varsity performer, played in 10 day games over the past two seasons.
"It's not the same," Clinite said of Saturday matinees compared to Friday night lights. "You've got to wake up and play right away. It's not the same as being able to wake up, go through school and get pumped all day."
Senior Shiking Marshall said fans can expect more energy from their team.
"The game is going to be much faster on a Friday," the cornerback/slot back said. "Everybody is going to be explosive, hitting hard, all that stuff."
That's a two-way street, of course. Elgin (0-2), which lost to defending Upstate Eight Conference champion Glenbard East 27-18 in Week 1 and to Glenbard South 21-12 in Week 2, likewise hopes to feed off the atmosphere against the unbeaten Storm.
"We want to put on a good show this Friday," said Elgin coach Anthony Mason, a former NIU defensive back. "I think this is really our test here after being beat last year 55-0. This is such a big game for them with Friday night lights for the first time. They want to keep their dominance. How we come out could really define the type of team we are."
Jezioro said he expects the largest crowd in program history due to the unique circumstances. A packed house is precisely what the players hope to see.
"It's going to be amazing," Clinite said. "I just can't wait to play. It's going to be great."
He's No. 1: West Aurora senior quarterback Will Tammaru certainly would have preferred the victory last week over Plainfield East, but he did leave the field having set a Blackhawks program record.
Completing 17 of 33 passes for 244 yards and 3 touchdowns in West Aurora's 27-25 loss at Plainfield East, the three-year starter set the school record for passing yardage in a career with 3,188 yards.
He completed passes to eight different receivers and threw 2 touchdowns passes to receiver Logan Mont and a third to tight end Shawn Fichtel.
According to Blackhawks records Tammaru's 244 yards passing was his third-highest total. He passed for 287 yards against Glenbard South in 2018, and for 255 yards in West Aurora's 2018 playoff loss to Edwardsville.
Tammaru's career total eclipsed Mark McGary's mark of 3,122 yards achieved during the 2004-05 seasons.
"Will is everything you'd want in an high school athlete," said West Aurora coach Nate Eimer, a former Blackhawks tight end. "He shows up, does his job, gets better every day."
Hosting Joliet Central on Friday, the quarterback is likely to set another career passing record. His 187 completions rank second to Jim Bennett's 191 from 1982-83 seasons.
Eimer stressed that setting records is not a motivating factor to the 6-foot-3, 200-pound senior.
"He's a team-first guy," Eimer said. "If he ends up having to throw one pass for us to win Friday night he'll do it. He wants to win, that's what makes him special."
He said it: Jacobs coach Bill Mitz on the battle between Jacobs junior center George Trojanek and Huntley two-time all-conference defensive tackle Matt Burba in Jacobs' 14-7 win: "That was a battle all night. If you like to watch offensive line play, those were two really good football players going at it."