Huskie football and fans gear up for the annual Crosstown Classic game

On one night each year, the Naperville community is staunchly divided. Schoolmates, neighbors, and friends are pitted against each other in the annual matchup of crosstown foes. The famous football game provides renewed friendships and lasting memories no matter what takes place on the field.

The Naperville North Huskies (4-2, 3-2) face off against the Naperville Central Redhawks (5-1, 5-0) at North Central College on Friday night in the annual Wes Spencer Crosstown Classic.

In recent years, there have been spurts of success in the matchup by each team. The Huskies won four out of five games from 2004-2008 while the Redhawks emerged victorious four out of five games from 2011-2015. Last year, the Huskies pummeled the Redhawks by a final score of 50-31, marking the first time a team has reached 50 points in this matchup in the 21st century. Since 2004, the Huskies have fared well in the fierce rivalry, holding a record of 7-6. The Redhawks look to knot it up at seven apiece tonight.

The Dawg Pound will be wearing black long-sleeved shirts as part of the blackout theme. The shirts feature the slogan Dawgs Gotta Eat in light green letters. The color associated with mental health awareness is green, providing the inspiration for the presence on the shirts. The cost of a shirt was 15 dollars, with 50% of proceeds going to the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Dupage. Senior Dawg Pound leader Ben Benaitis elaborated on the meaning of the shirts in light of recent tragedies at Naperville North.

“We wanted to ensure that we could raise awareness on the [mental health] issue while not referencing specifics of the events,” Benaitis said.

After the Crosstown Classic, only two regular season games remain for the Huskies. The final home game of the season against the Warriors of Waubonsie Valley is followed by the regular season finale on the road against the winless Tigers of Wheaton Warrenville-South. With a win in any of these three contests, the Huskies clinch a playoff berth for the second straight year.

The Redhawks remain atop the Dupage Valley Conference having lost only one game this season. The Huskies, only one game behind the Redhawks, remain in fourth place heading into the seventh week of the regular season. With a win at Benedetti-Wehrli Stadium tonight, the Huskies can rise up to a tie for the top spot in the conference standings. The Naperville bragging rights hang in the balance tonight as the Huskies look to repeat as champions. The Redhawks are undefeated in conference play this season, but Huskies Head Coach Sean Drendel is not worried.

“I love that nobody thinks we can play with them [Redhawks],” Drendel said. “Our kids will be ready to play.”