Football: Gridiron glee finally returns to Carpentersville
By Erik Jacobsen email@example.com August 26, 2012 10:16PM
The Dundee-Crown student section had reason to cheer Friday night as the Chargers snapped a 26-game losing streak by pounding Elgin 54-12. | Michael R. Schmidt~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: September 28, 2012 6:14AM
Little did Dundee-Crown’s cheerleaders know they were in for a serious workout Friday night.
Every time the Chargers scored a touchdown during their season opener against Elgin, the cheerleaders would match the number of total points scored by their team with the same number of push-ups. So when Dundee-Crown jumped out to a 54-0 lead by scoring eight touchdown’s in the game’s first 21 minutes, that corresponded to 242 combined push-ups.
At least the cheerleaders didn’t have their push-up form critiqued too closely by the Chargers fans who packed the home team’s stands in Carpentersville. That’s because those fans were too busy reveling in Dundee-Crown’s first victory in three years as the school’s 26-game losing streak finally came to an end.
For once the Chargers had a chance to feel what it’s like to be on the winning side of an outrageous blowout. More importantly, at long last Dundee-Crown’s players had a chance to taste the fruit of their labors as they watched the final seconds expire on their 54-12 uprising.
“This is pretty special,” Dundee-Crown senior quarterback Garrett Ryan said in the aftermath. “Last year there was a lot of adversity, but we put in the work during the offseason and it paid off today. Hopefully we can keep that going the rest of the season.”
From the outside, things had never looked bleaker for Dundee-Crown’s program than they did at the conclusion of the 2011 campaign. A 49-0 defeat against rival Jacobs had punctuated the team’s second straight 0-9 finish, and over the final three weeks of the season the Chargers hadn’t scored a point while losing all three games by at least 42 points.
On the inside, however, the physical and mental bruises of another brutal season didn’t stop Dundee-Crown’s players from working toward the future.
“After the Jacobs game everybody started hitting the weight room and everybody got a lot stronger,” senior defensive lineman Ray Griggel said. “We have a lot of guys that are squatting over 400 pounds now.”
The difference was on full display against Elgin as Griggel and his defensive teammates swarmed to the ball and gave the Maroons no room to operate. On offense, Dundee-Crown’s mix of speed and strength at the skill positions took advantage of gaping holes provided by the line.
In fairness, the Chargers were playing a woefully undermanned Elgin team that had only 17 players dressed due to eligibility issues caused by players not having participated in enough practices. But even if the Maroons had been at full strength, they would have had a hard time avoiding a running clock given how well Dundee-Crown executed its game plan.
Second-year Chargers coach Vito Andriola is no stranger to rebuilding projects, having helped turn programs around in previous stops as a head coach at Grayslake and an assistant at Glenbrook South. But even he had to acknowledge the significance of his current team’s first victory on its home field since beating Grayslake Central on Sept. 19, 2008.
“Believe it or not, this is the first time any kid in this building has seen us win on this field,” Andriola said. “I’m glad for our guys because now they get to see what hard work can lead to.”
Prior to Friday night’s win, Dundee-Crown’s most recent victory had come against Elgin in a road game in Week 1 of the 2009 season. Now the task is to beat a team not nicknamed the Maroons, which hasn’t happened since the aforementioned win against Grayslake Central in 2008.
It is almost certain the Chargers won’t have another cakewalk at any point this season like the one they enjoyed Friday. In fact, it’s not impossible to think Dundee-Crown won’t win another game given its challenging schedule the rest of the way.
Along those lines, the underdog tag isn’t going away anytime soon for a Chargers team that has lost 27 straight conference games dating to 2006 in the rugged Fox Valley Conference Valley Division, which is home to perennial state title contenders such as Prairie Ridge, Cary-Grove and Crystal Lake South.
Nonetheless, Dundee-Crown’s victory against Elgin and the convincing fashion in which it came is an unequivocal sign things are pointed in the right direction for the Chargers. And at long last, the cloud of a nasty losing streak is no longer overhead.
“We weren’t trying to stress (the losing streak) too much, but people were saying things like we were chasing an elusive win this season,” Ryan said. “We just wanted to come out and prove that we’re here to play.”