As the fans cheered in the bleachers, the De La Salle band played what sounded to be the electrifying anthem of Black Sabbath’s “Iron Man” echoing across the field. Emerging from the darkness and appearing onto the brightly lit green field, revealed by the lights, was a stampede of blue-armored athletes rushing towards the white-painted 50-yard-line. However, painted onto the grass, in the middle of that field, in bold red, white, and blue was a logo, “S.R.”
This year, a home field for the De La Salle football program was non-existent. Construction is underway to upgrade De La Salle’s activity center which connects to the football field. Due to this recent project, access and availability of De La Salle’s home field has been blocked off from the Institute this year. This year’s senior class was not able to play one last game on its home field.
“I was actually pretty disappointed knowing we were going to have a senior night this year, and we weren’t going to be able to play on the field,” senior Captain Joseph Bonds said.
But, on Friday, August 21, the De La Salle football team stepped foot on St. Rita’s field for its first home game. De La Salle took a win for their opening home game against Niles North, leading 35-28.
“It was actually great,” Bonds said, “The field felt good, and we felt safer playing on it because it’s a turf field. So we didn’t have to worry about potholes in the grounds at least.”
Regardless of the change in home field advantage, it didn’t seem awkward to the team.
“What changes is the routine. So, you know, you get out at a certain time, and you get your stuff together, and you have a certain routine that you’re adjusted to,” Coach John Grubisich said, “but the crowd is awesome. It feels almost the same as if we are on 35th Street. There’s some familiarity there. I played against St. Rita a few times as a kid. It wasn’t too different. I’m just happy and grateful they let us use the field, and we were able to make that arrangement.”
However, the tradition is what is missing at St. Rita. “There’s a lot of tradition here [at DLS]. You feel the tradition when you’re on the field. It’s where I played. It’s where my dad played, so it means a lot,” Grubisich said.
“For me, it’s 35th Street” Bonds said. “When I think of our home, I think of 35th Street because that’s where I’m at most of the time. So when I think of De La Salle itself, I think of it as a home away from home. [When we are away] We have to still feel like we’re at home while we’re playing, so we have to defend our name where we are. Just with the ‘D’ logo across our chests, together, I feel that we’re at home no matter where we are.”
The Meteors ended their regular season, without real home field advantage, as winners with a record of 6-3. The team qualified for an IHSA playoff appearance for the first time since 2013, and the team played against Hoffman Estates High School. They eventually fell short of a victory to advance. The postseason run came to end in the Catholic League Prep Bowl against St. Ignatius with a final score of 10-7.
“I thought the playoff run was pretty good, and we played hard all year long and part of that was because of conditioning on and off season,” Head Coach Mike Boehm said. “I’m proud of our senior leadership and our young kids who really stepped up this year as well.”