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November 1, 2022

Photo Essay: WEGO wins against Bartlett

Sept. 1 was a day that will live in WEGO history as the Wildcats beat the Hawks for the first time in 20 years.
The+Wildcats+defend+the+endzone+against+the+Bartlett+Hawks+as+the+game+approaches+halftime+on+Sept.+1.
Emily Ziajor
The Wildcats defend the endzone against the Bartlett Hawks as the game approaches halftime on Sept. 1.

West Chicago Wildcats vs. Bartlett Hawks. The first football home game took place on Sept. 1 at WCCHS in Memorial Stadium. The West Chicago Wildcats came out victorious with a score of 21-14, securing a win against Bartlett for the first time in history.

(Photo by Emily Ziajor)

Before the Varsity game officially started at 7:00 p.m., players warmed up with stretches and drills. Junior Louis Zietler stretched alongside his teammates as he prepared himself for the game against Bartlett.

“My attitude was just laser focus the entire day going into it. I knew how winnable this game was for us,” Zietler said.

Zietler was sidelined due to an injury within the first week of practice; however, any discomfort did not take away from how fixated he was on winning this game in particular.

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“Going into the game we knew it was gonna be a physical battle all four quarters, but we were ready for it, coming out with an upset win – with this being the first football win in our school’s history over Bartlett. Everyone thought we were gonna just come in and lose. Like that was huge for our confidence through the rest of our season,” Zietler said.

(Photo by Emily Ziajor)

Tight end/linebacker Jonathan Soto, a senior, catches a football while coaches run the team through drills prior to the game. Less than a week later, Soto would injure a finger on his left hand.

(Photo by Emily Ziajor)

Cheerleaders Piper Kaiser and Isabella Sandoval Fernandez Del Campo wait patiently and make conversation with each other prior to the game starting. Cheer warmed up by practicing a few tricks within their stunt groups, and calling out to the stands.

(Photo by Emily Ziajor)

Seniors Kevin Dorl, Christina Guo, and Owen Thompson march their way over to their marching band positions, posing for a quick photo while on the move. Dorl, Guo, and Thompson are all drum majors who lead the band during their half-time performance.

“Co-leading the band with Christina and Owen is amazing! I believe that their personalities and skill sets really shine through and I love the camaraderie that we’ve built over the past month or so,” Dorl said.

The three spent a week together at Eastern Illinois University over the summer, working on skills and building camaraderie.

“What I really love about drum major camp is getting closer with Owen and Christina and becoming a more cohesive trio. I believe our director made a strong choice in picking these two to join me this year,” Dorl said.

(Photo by Emily Ziajor)

Principal Will Dwyer, Division Head (Art/World Languages) Jenna Windt, and Activity Director Marc Wolfe were present at the football game to show their support and cheer on the team. The wildcat mascot – whose identity remains a mystery, though rumors have surfaced as to who is filling the role this year – pridefully puts bunny ears on Dwyer and Wolfe.

(Photo by Emily Ziajor)

Junior Thomas Murphy, a running back/defensive back, holds the football tightly as he pushes his way through a grouping of Bartlett players.

(Photo by Emily Ziajor)

Students from the student section of the stands encourage the football team, cheering “Let’s go WEGO!” and more.

“The energy was wild and with everyone cheering it felt like the stands almost collapsed,” senior Sebastian Alvarez said.

The Pep Club theme for this football game was “Red Flags”: fans had to dress in a red shirt on which they had written a bad trait about themselves, such as “Mommy and Daddy issues” or “Peanut Allergy”.

“The theme was definitely successful, and pretty funny! Many students were very creative with their “red flags”. It was also very fun to throw on a different color and wear all red and see the student section from the crowd” Pep Club adviser and World Languages teacher Elizabeth Mastroianni said.

(Photo by Emily Ziajor)

West Chicago football players went head-to-head against Bartlett as the midpoint of the game approached. Bartlett earned their first touchdown in the second quarter of the game, leaving the Wildcats trailing behind.

(Photo by Emily Ziajor)

Senior Zach Wiegele looked over at his teammates as the footballers regrouped during the break.

“I was like, we’re down seven. We’re down seven, nothing. We need to put points on the board to make it competitive, and we need to focus,” Wiegele said.

(Photo by Emily Ziajor)

Senior Sophia Spinelli is lifted by sophomore Samantha Jaloway, Kaiser, and Amelia during the halftime performance. The routine, which is new this season, was choreographed by Allison Boney and features full-ups, bajas, and a pyramid that includes Superman twists.

“There’s so much more than just athletes working hard with each other to be performance ready on the field. I feel like a lot of times the coaches get overlooked but they truly deserve all the recognition in the world! Our coach Allison, a WEGO Cheer alumni, choreographs, mixes music, and teaches everything we learn and perform on the field,” Spinelli said.

(Photo by Emily Ziajor)

Sophomore Jeremy Passini and senior Chase Pechman played their trombones during the halftime performance. The marching band played “We Didn’t Start the Fire” by singer/songwriter Billy Joel – a song which was voted on by the band earlier in the year.

“Leading the band on the field always feels daunting yet so rewarding. It’s scary to be at the forefront of the band but it’s always great to hear the band finish a great show, especially because we’ve been practicing since the beginning of August and have had weekly Thursday night rehearsals since the school year started,” Dorl said.

(Photo by Emily Ziajor)

Dance Team member and senior Lauren Sikma remains in synch with her teammates as they execute practiced dance moves during the halftime performance.

(Photo by Emily Ziajor)

Coming out of the half, Coach Adam Chavez, who was just voted the Chicago Bears’ Coach of the Week, asked the team to focus on running the ball. As the game continued, the Wildcats made quick progress, catching up to the Hawks. Quarterback Carter Naranjo jumped up in excitement as the team tied the score, 14-14, following touchdowns by Zeitler and senior Vincent Muci. The Wildcats’ defense was in top form throughout the second half of the game.

(Photo by Emily Ziajor)

As the clock wound down, the tie remained, and it became clear the teams would move into overtime. Senior Muci stood alongside teammates A’Mari Diaz-Thomas and Joseph Flores, both seniors, and Ean Arizmendi and Roman Zolota, both sophomores, as the game was extended for another 15 minutes.

The Wildcats presented a strong defensive line that refused to allow the Hawks to score in overtime. Several minutes into the period, Muci took hold of the ball again and ran it down the line, securing the win: 21-14. The victory marked the first time in history West Chicago Community High School’s football team defeated Bartlett.

Once the game concluded, students wasted no time in rushing down the track and onto the field with supportive energy.

“After the game, when the students stormed the field, it was so impactful and exciting! Being an alumni and remembering what Friday nights were like at WEGO for me, I was so happy for our students to be able to experience that together. It is moments like Friday that students and staff will always remember,” Mastroianni said. 

(Photo by Emily Ziajor)

The crowd mobbed the players, shouting and cheering in excitement. The moment was not one to be soon forgotten.

“When I ran out there, all I heard was screaming and craziness, but it was a lot of fun. We were all jumping around the team and giving them congratulations. It was a really good time, and was probably one of the best moments I’ve had in high school,” senior Mathew Dewees said.

This story was originally published on Wildcat Chronicle on September 8, 2023.