Last Friday night, I jumped into my car to cover a high school football game like I had done on countless occasions over the past 15 years or so. As I drove south on Harlem Avenue, heading out to the Lyons Township football game, I instantly sensed something felt different about this particular edition of Farmer’s Friday Night Lights football coverage. In a word, the weather appeared apocalyptic. The skies were dark and daunting with frequent lightning bursts so dramatic it was as if the bolts were issued by Mjolnir, the hammer of Thor. Thunder, rain and wind served as ominous meteoric companions to ensure a harrowing ride for your undeniably rattled narrator to Western Springs.
As I turned into the LT parking lot of the South Campus, I saw droves of people (all ages) aimlessly wandering around and taking photos of the sky above. All the aforementioned lousy weather conditions remained, and arguably even strengthened, as the night wore on. In the distance, an empty LT football stadium shined brightly, a beacon of gridiron hope. Ultimately, Mother Nature won the night though causing the Warren vs. LT game to be rescheduled for the following afternoon. It’s been said Father Time is undefeated regarding the inevitable decline of athletes, but Mother Nature served LT fans a powerful reminder She can muck up any sports itinerary with the best of them. Just ask the beleagured Riverside-Brookfield football team. The Bulldogs had their game against St. Francis cancelled not once but two times over the weekend before finally losing to host St. Francis 35-9 on Sunday in pleasant conditions. Amid a weekend of grey skies and despite the loss to the Spartans, the Bulldogs showed signs of progress led by inspired performances from Justin Agne, Jordan Petronella and Adolfo Linares.
When I woke up Saturday morning, my first move post-Rice Krispies was to check the day’s forecast. While the morning called for more thunder and lightning (see RB game cancellation No. 2), conditions were slated to clear up at night.
The evening forecast was spot on as I attended the St. Joseph-Fenwick game at Morton West. This time, although the weather was idyllic, the Chargers vs. Friars tilt was the centerpiece of a different and even more bizarre scene that featured the Maria SS Lauretana Italian Fest right behind the North end zone and intermittent fireworks and firecrackers sounding off at the other end of the field. Led by the powerful running of Robert Spillane and Charlie Emmons and aerial hook ups of quarterback Gino Cavalieri to Ryan Smith and Rich Schoen, the Friars put away St. Joe’s early en route to a 63-0 rout. The lopsided score suited me just fine for two reasons: running clock (a sportswriter’s favorite two words in the IHSA rule book) and more time to watch all the carnival shenanigans. Bright lights, tilt-a-whirls and that weird music a la an ice cream truck filled the air, as well as my senses.
Considering St. Joe’s was so inept against the Friars, I was actually kind of hopping a few clowns, mimes and midgets with eye black could take over the Chargers’ shredded secondary just to liven up the game a bit.
As I left Hoffman Stadium after a weekend full of wacky weather and a sideshow-filled football game, I found it conveniently ironic when Fenwick head coach Gene Nudo offered me the following quotes about the Friars trip to Dallas this week to take on Bishop Lynch.
“Who knows what we’ll see [at Bishop Lynch], it could be a madhouse out there,” Nudo said.
That should be no sweat for the Friars… after Week One football gone wild!