Burlington Central, Hampshire ready to renew rivalry
One of Kane County's top rivalries returns when Hampshire visits Burlington Central Friday at 7 p.m.
The longtime foes did not meet last season, when Central was still a member of the Kishwaukee River Conference. Now that the Rockets have joined Hampshire in the Fox Valley Conference, the teams will meet every year for the foreseeable future.
"Playing Hampshire is fun," said fourth-year Central coach Brian Melvin, a Larkin graduate who is 1-1 against the Whip-Purs. "It brings me back to my Elgin-Larkin days. Rivalry games are great. Their kids are excited. Our kids are excited."
This matchup features a Central squad fresh off its most important triumph in years, a 31-30 win over FVC co-leader Jacobs that Melvin called "a signature victory."
The Rockets (2-3, 2-3) face a hungry, improving team from Hampshire (0-5, 0-5) that would like nothing better than to snap a 22-game losing streak against its natural rival.
Like Central, Hampshire was competitive against Jacobs (3-2, 3-2). The Whip-Purs drew within 6 points of the Golden Eagles midway through the fourth quarter of the season opener before Jacobs put the game away with a 72-yard scoring drive.
How does that translate to this matchup? It's difficult to tell, according to Hampshire coach Jake Brosman.
"In the FVC it's kind of hard to evaluate common opponents," the second-year coach said. "I feel like every week a lot the teams bring a surprise to the table. Watching Burlington, I think they surprised Jacobs with how they attacked them, like putting (Jake) Lenschow in the backfield quite a few times. They just got the ball in the right guys' hands and found some things in their game plan. That's good for us because it's on film now and we'll be ready."
Confidence builder: All season Elgin coach Anthony Mason had said a key to the Maroons offense was to finish drives.
Last week they finished. Time and again.
Beating West Chicago 57-12, Elgin topped its modern record of 56 from a game in 1977. The Maroons scored 78 in a game in 1912.
"We'll just stay with the IHSA days," Mason said, and why not.
"I think it was great for confidence because that lets the guys know that they can do it," he said. "It gives them the confidence in them that I already had in them."
The highlights were numerous, as they are when a team gains 580 yards of offense.
Quarterback Gio Griffin passed for 219 yards and 3 touchdowns, and fellow quarterback Jeffery Lomax ran for 2 scores and threw for another. Alex West ran for 95 yards and a touchdown and hauled in a scoring reception.
The one-two punch of receivers Xavier Bonds and Darien Jackson combined for 252 yards and 3 touchdowns. Jackson caught 3 passes for a whopping 147 yards.
"They finished," Mason said. "They executed very, very well and I was so proud to see it."
Charity begins at home: The competition doesn't end on the football field for Friday's 101st Crosstown Classic football game between Batavia and Geneva.
It continues off the field with "Competing for a Cause" T-shirt sales between the two schools. Sales from Geneva's shirts will go the LivingWell Cancer Resource Center in Geneva while Batavia's proceeds will be directed to Cal's Angels in St. Charles and the Batavia Activity & Athletic Foundation.
"It's nice that we can use this event to do a nice thing. I'm pretty proud of it," said Batavia football coach Dennis Piron.
The T-shirt design resembles an old Batavia-Geneva football program complete with the "Little Seven" conference affiliation. Geneva's shirt will feature Vikings blue on the back; Batavia's will be black.
The front design looks like something that might be found among a fan's memorabilia.
Which, in fact, it was.
Seeking inspiration for a theme, Piron turned to a wooden poster board he'd been gifted, which he had hanging up at home. He snapped a photo of it and, voila ... T-shirt design.
Students and fans can purchase the $15 shirts from 6-8 p.m. Thursday at Batavia and from 4-6 p.m. Thursday at Geneva. Students can buy them during their lunch periods on Thursday and Friday and the shirts may be available at Friday's game. If still not sold out, Batavia shirts will be sold from 9 a.m.-noon Saturday at Rotolo Middle School.
Piron has participated in check presentations at the organizations Competing for a Cause has benefitted. Those accepting the checks often get a nice surprise when they see the size of the donation.
"It's a fun moment when they're expecting two zeros and they see three zeros," Piron said.