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- More from John Lemon
A lot of firsts went down in the record books as West Aurora debuted its synthetic turf surface Friday night at Ken Zimmerman Field.
First electrifying play? That took all of the opening kickoff when Jonathan Gosong broke free and returned it 60 yards.
First carry? Booker Ross got that one for three yards.
First touchdown? It went to a linebacker of all people, perhaps fitting considering how strong West Aurora's defense is this year.
Brandon Warren scored that first TD recovering a fumble in the Saints end zone. You can also credit Warren with the first forced fumble.
"I'm definitely happy I scored the first touchdown, especially on defense," Warner said. "It was awesome."
First interception? The Saints' Anthony Niemiec gets the honor.
For good measure, Niemiec also notched the second INT on the plush new playing field.
First coach to praise the field?
That actually was St. Charles East's Mike Fields. During a break in the action in the second quarter, Fields turned and said, "Isn't this field awesome? Why can't we get this? Write an article and get it done!"
Ah, if only I had the power to do just that, it would be done, Mike! Not just for the Saints but all the area high schools. Us sports writer types love the turf if for no other reason than how easy it is to see the hash marks and keep stats.
All in all, there wasn't much but rave reviews.
"Beautiful field, oh my gosh. I'm not going to lie, I'd love to have this at St. Charles East," Fields said. "I know a lot of people would. The community here should be awfully proud. This is pretty neat to have."
Heading into the game the talk was how the turf would make West Aurora that much tougher to beat with its team speed. And the Blackhawks certainly flashed that on Nate Zinzer's 25-yard touchdown run among other big plays.
"I just made a couple cuts and went right through the hole," Zinzer said.
"On grass if it's wet it stinks because you are sliding around. This is really easy to cut. I like turf a lot better. For us it helps us as a speed team."
The turf didn't just make the skill guys look faster. How about No. 57 for St. Charles East, nose guard Nick Devor, who returned a kickoff 98 yards in the second quarter for the Saints' only score.
In fairness though, Devor might be the fastest player ever to wear No. 57. He's a state-level hurdler in track.
West Aurora coach Nate Eimer couldn't have asked for much more in his first home game. The Blackhawks didn't just get a win in the first meeting with St. Charles East since they were Upstate Eight rivals in 1996, they got to debut a field that will be enjoyed for decades to come.
"We're very blessed," Eimer said. "It was special night especially being an alumni here coming back and kicking off this field. It's great for the whole community. It really is. You should see how many different sports, different teams have been on this field. Even different schools. I think Marmion came over and used it. It's not torn up, it will be fine tomorrow. It's a great night for the school."