After eight seasons as Neuqua Valley’s offensive coordinator and 13 years in the program, Bill Ellinghaus earned his first victory as the Wildcats’ head football coach last Friday.
The veteran he is, Ellinghaus soaked up the resounding 43-20 win over Naperville North and quickly moved on to Week 2.
“It was awesome, I’m not going to downplay that,” he said. “We felt really good about that, and now we can take a breath and focus on Naperville Central.”
Piggybacking on the win was the donation of several hundred dollars to the Tom Schlegel Children’s Trust and the Tom Schlegel Scholarship Fund, named in honor of the Wildcats’ former special teams coordinator who died of non-Hodgkins lymphoma on Oct. 13, 2006.
One of Schlegel’s high school friends from Naperville is Jim Shrank, now a Minnesota resident. A football official crew chief, Shrank and his team come in once a year to work Neuqua sophomore and varsity games and donate their fees to the Schlegel charities.
Ellinghaus estimated last Friday’s donation to be around $750.
“It’s kind of (Shrank’s) way to pass on his legacy,” Ellinghaus said.
More first-time winners:
Metea Valley’s Ben Kleinhans and Immaculate Conception’s Bill Krefft also joined the winner’s circle for the first time. Their margins of victory could not have been more different.
Kleinhans, who came over from Neuqua Valley as its quarterbacks coach, survived a roller coaster when Metea kicker Nick Dodsen booted his third field goal of the night, a 20-yarder with five minutes to play, to beat Plainfield East 24-22. It was the Mustangs’ third and final comeback.
“It was definitely a great night,” Kleinhans said. “Years back, down the road, I’m going to remember that first one as a head coach.”
The coach said linebacker Donovan Rowsey, a three-year starting linebacker who made 19 tackles, stood up after the game and said Metea had never fought through such adversity to win a game.
“It probably didn’t sink in till the next day, till I was driving in the next day,” Kleinhans said. “If feels so much better Saturday morning with a win. It gives (the players) an extra hop in their step.”
Krefft, a 2003 Immaculate Conception graduate, banked win No. 1 right quick. The Knights led Noble Street Charter 63-6 by halftime and won 77-6.
“It was great to get out and finally hit a different-colored jersey on the other side of the field,” said Krefft a former linebacker.
Krefft praised his staff of Jim Kenneally, Dom Riccardino, Mike Calcagno, Roger Kelley, Tom Curry, Matt Bettinazzi, Kevin Carver and Pat Edwards for all being on the same page. Even former Knights head coach Bill Schmidt came back to help on the sideline.
“We took the day to celebrate, the kids had the next day off, and we got right back to work (Monday) and started refocusing on the next day. Our next opponent is Wheaton Academy, and that’s where our mind went,” Krefft said.
Montini’s 40-37 overtime win at Palatine might prove a little costly, at least regarding Friday’s home opener against Lincoln-Way East.
Senior running back Dimitri Taylor got hit on the calf in the first quarter, after two carries. Montini coach Chris Andriano said it was nothing serious, but the muscle tightened up and Taylor may be held out Friday.
Senior receiver Joey Borsellino sounds doubtful for Lincoln-Way East. The three-year starter caught 12 passes for 146 yards and 2 touchdowns until he sprained his right medial collateral ligament in the fourth quarter. Andriano said there was no structural damage.
“We’ll probably be without those two guys, and other guys are going to have to step up,” the coach said.
They include Tucker Mucha, a two-year starting safety who filled in for Taylor and ran for 62 yards and a touchdown.
“In my mind he was the player of the game for us,” Andriano said.
All four high schools in Glenbard District 87 officially have artificial fields to enjoy.
That fact officially becomes official with ribbon-cutting ceremonies before Friday’s games at Glenbard East and Glenbard South. The schools also are celebrating new scoreboards.
Glenbard North installed artificial turf a few years ago on its stadium field, while Glenbard West added the surface to Memorial Field across the street from the high school. The Hilltoppers’ stadium field — Duchon Field, on the banks of Lake Ellyn — remains a grass surface.
This weekend’s ceremonies will take place right after the sophomore game concludes and just before pregame warm-ups for the varsity game, about 7 p.m. Glenbard East plays host to Lake Park, and Glenbard South faces Bloom Twp.
“It’s awesome,” said Glenbard East coach John Walters. “It could be the best field in the (DuPage Valley Conference).”
Saturday’s 90-degree temperatures punished everyone before, during and after Glenbard West’s 28-7 win over Wheaton Warrenville South in Glen Ellyn.
Hilltoppers coach Chad Hetlet’s crew especially felt the impact as several players went down with leg cramping during the second half. While Hetlet blamed part of it on improper hydrating by some of his players, he felt that opening-game excitement added to the impact.
Perhaps the players were too fired up.
“Our kids are in better shape than any team we’ve had,” Hetlet said. “But the kids were really jacked up. They came out and expended a ton of energy just leading up to the game.”
A nice change:
After a winless campaign in 2011, Willowbrook started 2012 on the perfect foot by beating Glenbard East 42-41. The Warriors held on by thwarting Glenbard East’s 2-point attempt in the waning seconds that would have won the game.
Second-year Willowbrook coach Nick Hildreth, who was hired in late spring 2011, felt the advantage of an entire offseason of work made a world of difference.
“The entire year felt different, not just Friday night,” Hildreth said. “We were able to get much more work in, and you could feel the entire atmosphere changing.”
The challenge now is to keep the momentum going. It won’t be easy this weekend against Glenbard West, but Hildreth plans for a much more competitive game than last year’s 49-0 loss.
“I feel great for these kids,” Hildreth said. “They’ve helped set the direction we want to go in as a program.”
Follow Kevin Schmit’s high school reports on Twitter @kevin_schmitCopyright © 2013 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.