skip navigation

First day of practice: West Aurora wants to be a mover and a shaker

08/11/2014, 7:30pm CDT
By Rick Armstrong |

For coach Nate Eimer’s Blackhawks, 2014 also marks a return to the Upstate Eight Conference. They’ll play in the Valley Division after departing the DuPage Valley.

West Aurora’s Sean Anthony gets under the ball to make a catch during Monday’s practice. | Jon Langham/for Sun-Times Media

Welcome back.

Players from West Aurora, like those in 549 other high school football programs across the state, kicked off a new season with Monday morning’s first practice in shorts, shirts and helmets. They’ll add shoulder pads Wednesday and full pads Saturday, easing into the routine.

For coach Nate Eimer’s Blackhawks, 2014 also marks a return to the Upstate Eight Conference. They’ll play in the Valley Division after departing the DuPage Valley.

It was time for a change.

“I don’t really think the kids are too caught up in it,” said the fourth-year coach, who is optimistic with four of five starters on the offensive line leading a large group of returnees from a 1-8 team.

“I think from Day 1 when I got here three years ago, we’re just trying to get better, just working at that. Whoever we play, we play.”

Fortunately, the 2014 schedule doesn’t include Naperville Central, Naperville North or Wheaton Warrenville South. 

Since moving to the DVC from the Upstate Eight in 1997, West was a combined 0-51 against those three. And its streak of seasons without making the playoffs has hit 19.

The numbers don’t lie, and Eimer knows that. Wisely, he wants to look forward.

“What we were doing before, obviously wasn’t very good for this program,” he said. “You look at the statistics. I’m sure you can list ’em. It is what it is.

“I think for the kids (on this year’s team), what we’ve tried to sell is, it’s a new era, a new start. We’re not gonna talk about the past anymore. We’re gonna move forward.”

Crosstown rival East Aurora will again be a conference game. Due to league dictate, it will be played in Week 8 rather than the season opener as it has since the late 1990s.

Opening with East “always brought a little extra excitement to the kids,” said Eimer, quick to add it shouldn’t lose its luster.

“When you kick off like that (with a rivalry game), it’s kinda like — I hate to say it — but I don’t feel like anybody plays their best football Week 1. Later in the season will be more exciting, kind of like how it used to be.”

In the early years of the state’s longest running rivalry, the teams always met in the regular-season finale.

For now, Eimer is following the advice he gives his kids, focusing on the next week and not looking too far ahead.

“We can go five hours on Saturday, so we’ll have the regular three-hour practice in the morning then come back that night at 6 and scrimmage kick, kick return and punt teams to give those guys good live looks,” he said.  

West added Geneva of the Upstate Eight River for the opener (Aug. 29 at home). Its second nonconference game follows at Plainfield East. Both were playoff teams last year.

The league slate follows with South Elgin, Metea Valley, Bartlett, playoff teams Neuqua Valley and Waubonsie Valley, East Aurora and Glenbard East. West’s nine opponents for the coming season went 44-44 last year and produced four playoff teams.

“Geneva is a great fit for us because I think we’re gonna know right away where we’re at, who can play and who can’t,” Eimer said. “They’re talented, but we’re kind of used to that. This isn’t like new territory for us.”

There’s no denying that.

West’s nine opponents last year went a combined 54-41 and six of them made the playoffs.

Popular Stories

  • Ronell Coleman gets it done at Simeon

  • 04/14/2013, 3:15pm CDT , By Dan Ruane
  • At a height of 5-5, Ronell Coleman isn't the prototypical Division I recruit, but one look at the the Simeon senior on the baseball diamond and it's evident why the infielder is heading to Vanderbilt.
  • Read More
  • Vernon Hill's David Dobrik, Nikita Lunkov talk way to state

  • 05/29/2014, 9:45am CDT , By Jon Kerr | For Sun-Times Media | @prepspioneer
  • One game away from being bounced out of a berth in the boys tennis state tournament, the Vernon Hills doubles team of David Dobrik and Nikita Lunkov had a brief conversation with their coach, Doug Gerber.
  • Read More
  • Joe Henricksen's weekly three-pointer

  • 03/05/2013, 6:15pm CST , By Joe Henricksen
  • In the past 20 years only three teams with a freshman or sophomore leading scorer have made it the big school Final Four. This year one remaining team fits that bill: Stevenson with sophomore sensation Jalen Brunson.
  • Read More
Niles West’s Jesse Sacks hits a volley
  • 4
  • Niles N.’s Dillard dismissed after arrest

  • 02/04/2013, 8:11pm CST , By Matt Harness
  • Niles North will be without senior Lorenzo Dillard for the rest the season, Vikings coach Glenn Olson confirmed Monday. According to the Skokie Police Department, Dillard was arrested and charged with domestic battery Jan. 27.
  • Read More 4

Tag(s): West Aurora  Top Headlines  Featured  Featured  Top News  Featured  Top News  Football  West Aurora