Batavia sports fans saluted the boys in long-sleeved basketball jerseys and crimson and white striped warmup pants as their final collective act of a stupendous Saturday.
Compared with the Bulldogs’ IHSA Class 6A state football championship victory against Richards a few hours earlier, a double-overtime boys basketball win to cap the Ken Peddy Windmill Classic certainly paled.
In the interest of the recency effect, however, closing the day with some roundball revelry didn’t hurt. Several gridders were calling The City of Energy a football town around 4:45 p.m. Saturday, when Batavia’s newest favorite sons descended the medal stand at NIU’s Huskie Stadium with the program’s first championship trophy.
Does a sports-mad community have a debate on its hands? That’s no pot for us to stir. Still, the volume of Bulldogs backers who trekked to DeKalb spoke for itself, cheering and chanting for the better part of Saturday afternoon.
“That was amazing,” Bulldogs senior wide receiver/defensive back Rourke Mullins said. “It sounded like being at a college game. Touchdowns, picks, big hits, it was like a roar. You couldn’t hear anything.”
Several in Batavia’s impressive turnout – which filled most of the west side of Huskie Stadium – coped with much more serene windshield time before arriving in DeKalb.
The Batavia girls basketball team left its Thanksgiving tournament in downstate Morton after thumping Normal Community in a game that tipped off at 8:30 a.m. The Bulldogs had another game rescheduled for 10 a.m., but elected to get a jump on traveling.
If they only knew the Class 5A championship between Montini and Sacred Heart-Griffin would last three hours and 11 minutes as Montini finished 25-for-60 passing.
The parents of Batavia coach Kevin Jensen, who doubles as a football assistant, scored an important assist after Jensen forgot the team’s title game tickets at BHS. The group arrived in DeKalb around 12:15 p.m., 45 minutes before the scheduled kickoff but one hour and 41 minutes ahead of the actual start.
“It was quite a weekend,” Jensen wrote in an email.
By the time the Bulldogs took the field, charging toward midfield and emphatically planting their spirit flag there, their posse was in full throat.
“Everyone knew everyone was going to come to this game,” senior running back Anthony Scaccia said. “I mean, state championship, everyone is going to be there. It’s just great to know that in Batavia, that’s what people do. They come to football games, they support the Bulldogs.”
As it does each season, Batavia’s push toward the playoffs began with much less spectator-friendly summer workouts. Part of the offseason docket included working with youngsters at the Junior Bulldog camp at Rotolo Middle School.
Naturally, the week brought its share of football, but there typically are outings to swim and take in a movie.
“The kids look up to us, and we have to carry ourselves with a different demeanor than other teenagers do, but we love that,” Mullins said. “We love being role models.”
The Bulldogs experienced another taste of their relationship with the community during halftime of the Windmill Classic finale. Again, a crowd rose rowdily to its feet, albeit in fewer numbers and indoors.
Basketball town, football town or tiddlywinks town, this was B-Town.
There’s no arguing citizens celebrated a landmark day.
• Kevin Druley is a sportswriter for the Kane County Chronicle. He can be reached at 630-845-5347 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @kevindruley.