From the sports editor

Though the main event wasn’t much to be entertained by Friday night when the OPRF football team hosted Glenbard West under the school’s new lights at Oak Park Stadium, the prospect of what’s to come is enough to send a bolt of electricity down the spine. (The Huskies lost 31-12 – see the back page sports section in the regular paper for game coverage.)

This is it. The youth football feeder program, developed a few years ago, is the foundation. Those poles surrounding the field at Oak Park Stadium and rising high into the night’s sky are the pillars.

Time to start on the framing up of a powerful football program, the one that draws the masses, the television news stations, Division I recruiters, money for the school, for the athletic department.

Can you imagine it? Can you hear it? It can become the talk of the village. At parks, in coffee shops, over fences in backyards. An entire neighborhood dead quiet, like a ghost town on a Friday night. Maybe no tumbleweed, but certainly the distant bark of a dog upset because his owners have grabbed their OPRF sweatshirts and headed off into the evening’s shadows.

Those “See you at the game” waves between friends and family members. That continuous “Go Huskies” exchange between us locals. The seven dudes in the front row spelling out HUSKIES on their chests with burnt-orange and blue paint. Tailgaters in the parking garage. Portable grills, fold-up chairs, coolers, RVs – OK, maybe not RVs.

But the marching band bringing it all together. Pound that big bass drum. Cue the horns. Zap the PA announcer. Flag dancers, I get it now. The new stadium lights flipped a switch in my narrow-minded brain. You’re graceful. You’re poetry in motion. I won’t ignore you and wolf down my Ball Park Frank during halftime anymore.

Crowds consistently in the thousands every home game. The 86-yard kick-off return for a touchdown. The pancake sack for a 7-yard loss. The 32-yard game-winning field goal.

Football players scouring the neighborhood around Oak Park Stadium on Saturday mornings, picking up trash, helping old ladies cross the street, rescuing cats stuck in trees. “What’s that Mr. Smith, need your leaves raked? You want the defense or the offense to help you out?”

Victories, victory dances, victory salutes, victory celebrations in restaurants around town. Saturday morning quarterbacking. “Why didn’t they do this or do that? What are you talking about, they should have done this and not that.”

It can inspire something even more positive than school spirit, something that’s not just for students and parents of students at OPRF. It can inspire something powerful.

Can you imagine it? The community and high school football united?

It can be electric.

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Brad Spencer has been covering sports in and around Oak Park for more than a decade, which means the young athletes he once covered in high school are now out of college and at home living with their parents...