Someone probably should have had a surge protector handy. Dennis Piron was that fired up.
Electric barely seems to scratch the surface in describing the energetic, engaging and enthusiastic Batavia football coach’s normal self. He’s a man with an incandescent smile and personality.
The homegrown — and darn proud of it — Piron and his Bulldogs have advanced to Saturday’s Class 6A state football championship game at NIU’s Huskie Stadium. This week, he’s been enjoying the ride, as well he should.
On Tuesday, Piron invited the whole town to meet his players at an event that doubled as a media day for members of the press needing to speak with players and coaches to preview the big event this week. He made a point to include community youngsters who look up to their high school heroes who also spent many Saturday mornings this fall coaching the future Bulldogs in their youth league program following their Friday night games.
It’s part of giving back to his community that Piron knows will pay it forward on many levels, including his future teams.
As they have the past three weeks of their magical playoff run, the Bulldogs practiced this week on the still-new field turf at Mooseheart, courtesy of Gary Urwiler, the Child City & School’s executive director.
“They’ve got their Holiday Lights celebration that starts this weekend and they’ve been putting up all the lights the last few weeks while we were there and Monday they were testing some of them out,” Piron said.
“Across the bleachers (facing Route 31) they’ve got the giant word ‘Rejoice’ spelled out across them almost as big as the stands. The lights of the stadium were on, but it was dark and when that sucker went on, our kids were like ‘Oooooo.’
“And then, it started snowing. It was surreal. Guys, it’s like it’s Christmas and we’re practicing!”
Hard to tell who enjoyed it more, the coach with a son on his team or his players.
The Bulldogs will return to Mooseheart for one last practice Friday, but this morning, they were going to hit their own field for a morning workout. To hear Piron, though, it might be the ultimate “Turkey Bowl.”
Piron is well aware that throughout this country, many Americans get together for a backyard football game on Thanksgiving Day. He has, no doubt, played in his share.
“The kids are gonna play on our muddy field one last time,” Piron said. “The (high school band’s) drum line shows up and makes like a tunnel out to the field for practice. We’ll have coffee and hot chocolate available and a community practice.
“Most kids play football Thanksgiving morning and we get to do it in pads! We’re gonna let our scout teams have a 10-minute scrimmage.”
Deserved recognition, no doubt for their part in the Bulldogs’ fantastic journey.
Would seem only fitting if they let the coach take a snap or two. But here’s hoping he wears one of those “hands off” green practice jerseys typically reserved for quarterbacks.
He does, after all, need to be upright for one more game.