On a beautiful early fall afternoon in north Evanston, not just two but eight teams took the field at Ryan Field. The headliner was Northwestern University‘s easy win over Baltimore‘s Towson University by a 47-14 score. At halftime, however, it was Evanston versus Wilmette as six teams took to the gridiron for scrimmages as part of Northwestern’s Northshore Community Day.
As soon as the Northwestern and Towson players cleared the field, the crowd was treated to three separate scrimmages – all at the same time. The crowd at the north end saw the Evanston Junior Wildkits (heavyweight division) take on the Wilmette Eagles (a program of the Wilmette Park District). Those seated near midfield witnessed the St. Athanasius Junior Varsity (5th-and 6th-graders) Hawks square off against the Wilmette Catholic Junior Varsity. At the south end, St. A’s and Wilmette Catholic’s varsity (7th-and 8th-graders) sides collided.
Once the scrimmages started, with three games going at once, the crowd responded to whatever action took place in front of their seats. Those not sitting in the center section missed a spectacular score as St. A’s Junior Varsity coach
Patrick Fowler called a halfback option pass which his players executed to perfection, resulting in a 25-yard touchdown pass. Judging from crowd reaction and discussions with several coaches, several other scoring plays took place, but this reporter simply could not keep track of
all the action.
Most importantly, all the kids seemed to have a blast. The north end of the stadium rang with chants of, “Who are we? Wildkits! 1-2-3 family!” while the south end appeared full of St. A’s red (a “Red Out” per an e-mail sent out by St. A’s supporters). Tracie Hitz, associate athletic director of sales and marketing, said she hoped to make the halftime scrimmage an annual event as part of Northshore Community Day, citing the enthusiastic crowd reaction and that of the players.
The coaches agreed upon the rules of the scrimmage, providing that each team get ten plays on offense and defense, and the division of the field into three segments allowing for the three-way action.
Ms. Hitz said Northwestern hopes to add the scrimmage to its Northshore
Community Day every year. “We are
excited to give the kids a chance to play
on this field,” she said.