Waukegan and purple just go together. | FILE PHOTO
Updated: September 24, 2012 7:29AM
Not sure if they’ll admit dinosaurs onto the grounds to watch Saturday afternoon’s football game between host North Chicago and Waukegan (something about exceeding maximum weight and age standards for the bleachers).
As a result, here are random thoughts two days before the renewal of one of the most meaningful, yet friendly, rivalries in area high school sports.
■ With one exception, we like everything Nick Browder’s been doing as football coach at Waukegan.
Now in his third season, he’s made a commitment to playing “Community Games” — his description. Last year and this year, it’s been a season-opening contest with North Chicago.
Next year, it’ll be a Week 1 game at Zion-Benton.
For the players involved and their fans, these community games mean much, much more than a Friday night contest at Niles North or Maine East.
The players love it because the North Chicago kids are guys they grew up playing with/against on the field and hanging with off it.
The fans love it because in the world that is North Chicago and Waukegan in 2012, everybody’s got an aunt or a grandma or an uncle in one town, and another grandma, three cousins, and four BFF’s in the other.
When it comes to Waukegan and North Chicago, we really are all in this together.
And it’s reflected on the field and in the stands, with good sportsmanship. People want their side to win, but they’re happy for the other side if the result goes the other way.
Browder will tell you that other than Saturday, he roots for North Chicago to win every time out. If you asked Warhawk coach Glen Kozlowski, he’d say the same thing about the Bulldogs.
During game week the last two years, the teams have had a combined “team dinner,” with speakers and comaraderie, good food and fun.
And then on Saturday, it’s a football game. It’s not a turf war. It’s a friendly rivalry. The players play it that way and the fans treat the game that same way.
Friendly rivals. As it should be.
■ Another thing about Waukegan’s coach.
He gets major props for working really hard to make sure that his seniors who want to play football at the next level have some place to do just that.
That’s never reflected in the won/loss total, but it’s an important part of a coach’s job — especially at a place like Waukegan where the program gets no Friday Night Lights exposure, and the media focus of the league always is on Maine South.
■ Saturday will mark the first varsity start for sophomore Melvin Bobo IV (MB4) at Waukegan.The irony here is t
hat his dad — MB3 — was a standout athlete at North Chicago.
If you’d told MB3 two years ago, he’d soon be cheering against his beloved Warhawks, he would have scoffed at the idea.
■ Saturday will be the North Chicago debut of Javairius Amos-Mays at quarterback.
“JAM” was the QB at Zion-Benton at the start of last year before transferring to North Chicago and having to sit out the rest of the season due to transfer rules.
JAM is reuniting with Arnold Shead, who was his backfield mate in eighth grade when the two were youth-football stars for the North Chicago Flames.
Shead will be all over the field on Saturday, as he’s one of the best skill-position players in the county.
■ In the last three years, North Chicago is 3-0 against Round Lake and 0-24 against everybody else.
Will that change on Saturday?
■ If you’re going to see just one Waukegan or North Chicago game this fall, this is the one to see.
You’re literally going to know everybody in the bleacers on both sides of the field, and you’ll be seeing a high-scoring, competitive game.
■ North Chicago will be one of the most-fun teams to watch play football this fall ... if you like your team to score points and are willing to sit through watching the other team score just as many.
■ The next sentence could be used to tell you who’s going to win the game, but that would ruin the moment.
So we won’t.
■ As for Coach Browder’s one faux pas:
When it comes to the Waukegan Bulldogs, we LUV the Purple/Gold.
Green? Not so much.