September 25, 2008
Friday night lights! Don't you just love it?
Fans who packed Dickinson Field Friday felt the love when Hinsdale Central played host to sister school Hinsdale South in ideal football weather. Never mind that Hinsdale Central won handily 43-14. The action was riveting both on and off the field.
More on that later.
Third-year Hinsdale Central coach Mike DiMatteo and his hustling staff is building a winner with the 3-1 Red Devils while building new bonding experiences.
• The Huddle Group: Squad captains are responsible for communicating with teammates on everything from coaching staff announcements to keeping up with their academics to honoring the Athletic Code.
• Helmet decals: Parents of varsity players present their sons devil-horn decals for their helmets in an emotional, on-field ceremony the week before the season opener.
• Brothers in arms. A deserving player is chosen to link arms with captains Pat Clegg, Brendan Sullivan, Collin Watkins and Rich Zajeski and lead the team onto the field for pre-game warmups.
"Walking in is a big deal for all of us," said defensive back/kick returner Brian Connor, who walked in the front before a victory at Lyons Township two weeks ago. "It does a lot for our game mentality. It's an honor to walk in (first). I got to walk in (first) last year, too. That one really surprised me."
Lineman Jack Curatolo was the invited first-row walker Friday with speedy slotback Mick Culligan doing the honors before the season opener and quarterback John Whitelaw before Game 2.
Deep in depth
DiMatteo talked of team depth before the season, and already has seen it from punter Zach Alleman and quarterback Mitch Eickhoff.
Alleman, one of Hinsdale Central's smaller players at 150 pounds, kept LT bottled up with his punting in Game 3 for injured Kolby Ourada.
"We picked up a flaw in Zach's technique during the week and he responded," DiMatteo said. "The game is all about field position, and he gave it to us that night."
Eickhoff, who wasn't expected to play again after major hip surgery his sophomore season, is back as Whitelaw's backup. The senior at 6-foot-2, 185 pounds probably could start for any other West Suburban Conference team.
Hinsdale Central's student body is like a team member for its uniqueness and enthusiasm.
"We're very much aware of them," DiMatteo said. "They can be a 12th man for us, especially in big games."
The self-called "bleacher rowdies" are at their best performing the "Go Bananas" cheer with the cheerleaders. It has to be seen -- and heard -- to be believed with everyone throwing themselves around like, well, crazy.
"The girls learned it at their camp last summer at Illinois State (University), where they won for best cheerleading and best spirit," Hinsdale Central coach Julie Schlueter said. "The prize was a big banana. They still have it, but I can't tell you were it is. It's hidden."
No one walked out of Friday night's halftime show from another solid performance by Hinsdale Central's marching band, the hilariously cute routines of future pom-pom girls and the always popular varsity pom dance team.
It was that kind of night.
The Red Devils will be under the lights again Friday, Sept. 26, at home against Oak Park.
The Doings Cup, which annually goes to the winner of the Hinsdale Central-Hinsdale South game, celebrated its 26th birthday Friday -- by itself. Someone forgot to bring it to the field, thus robbing the players of a treasured photo op.
Hinsdale Central is better than that.
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