Rivalries can span ages, but this doesn’t have to be the case.
When South Elgin travels to face Bartlett Friday night at Streamwood’s Millennium Field, they renew a football feud that is very real even if it has only been played regularly since 2009.
The twist this time is both have more at stake this late in the season than any time since the series began in 2006. It’s virtually an elimination game. The Hawks will be eliminated from the playoff chase with a loss, and with a win would still need to beat winless East Aurora the last week for a playoff spot.
“We’ll have enough points to make it at 5-4,” Bartlett coach Tom Meaney said. “We have to get the two wins.”
South Elgin (4-3, 3-2) would still be alive with a loss. However, with a loss to Bartlett (3-4, 2-3) the Storm would have to beat powerful Waubonsie Valley (6-1, 4-1) to make the playoffs. A win could be the Storm’s playoff ticket.
“It’s going to be a real battle, obviously because we want to make the playoffs, but also because we’ve got the game circled every year,” South Elgin coach Patrik Pistorio said.
The contrast in styles makes the game interesting. Bartlett’s strength has traditionally been the ground game and on defense. That’s the case this year with Bartlett running back Nolan Bernat (155 carries, 691 yards) and a stout defense led by linebacker Dan Danek and linemen Kyle Sanft and Brian Yurik.
The Hawks passing offense has struggled and quarterback Brenner Wallace has taken over for Jordan Flint, who was moved to tight end and wide receiver and last week came up with six catches for 137 yards and a touchdown.
“For us, it’s going to come down to cutting down South Elgin’s yards after catch from their receivers,” Meaney said. “They spread you out well, have bigger receivers than we have defensive backs, and get lots of YAC.
“Our pass rush is going to be big. It’s been getting better than the beginning of the year.”
South Elgin quarterback Hayden Nelson threw for 380 yards and four touchdowns last week against Glenbard East, and the Storm came within two yards from Andrew Kamienski of having three receivers with 100-yard days — a rarity at any level of football.
Derek Kumerow (27 catches, 494 yards) has eight TD catches, Nick Menken (22 catches, 346 yards) has six TD catches and Kamienski (29 catches 607 yards) has five TD catches.
“Andrew is also a very physical receiver,” Pistorio said. “We like his blocking.
“He played linebacker and returned kicks, so he likes mixing it up.”
The familiarity aspect makes it more than a good matchup.
“We took an informal poll in the program to figure out where our players were coming from and close to 75 of the kids in the program were from the Bartlett youth Raiders or Hawks programs,” Pistorio said. “They’ve grown up playing alongside or against each other.”
“With where the boundary is for South Elgin and Bartlett, and the school district boundaries, it’s almost like half the players live in the other town,” Meaney said.
Also, the development of the academy programs within District U-46 allows for student movement and makes for interesting situations.
“I live in South Elgin but I’m in the academy here at Bartlett because I wanted to go into engineering,” said Danek, the Hawks defensive leader. “So I know all of those guys.”