Nobody's quite sure how all this happened. Maybe it was the Army depot's leaving town a few years ago. Or the railroad closing down. Maybe it's because a lot of the school's 120 boys don't even go out for football. "Huge guys too," says tight end Justin Bull. "Guys like, 6'7", 250!" Instead, they hang out at what the players call Dirtball Wall downtown after school, laughing at the Streak. "They say we suck, but it's a lot more chicken to not try," says lineman Rich Lawfer. "It takes guts to come out and try to end it."
Lord, do they try. Most play offense, defense and special teams. Some even play in the jayvee game that ends 20 minutes before the varsity kickoff. Yet when linebacker Rhett Buchholz gets taken out for one play, he growls, "Why'd you take me out, Coach?"
It's 54-14 in the middle of the third quarter, and Aquin has stopped returning Savanna's punts. Three of the Bulldogs' running backs already have more than 100 yards each. Because Aquin is ahead by 40, the clock keeps running, even on out-of-bounds. "This just isn't right, ref!" Baisden pleads. "My kids don't care if they're down by 80! They want to play football!"
Loss number 61 is the 25th by 40 or more points.
Yet, at Manny's afterward, you would swear you were at the Aquin team party. There's laughing, grab-assing and Pepsi coming out of noses. "It's never been about winning or losing for us," says McIntyre. "That's stuff the adults worry about. For us, it's always been about being with our friends and playing football."
Too bad the adults don't get it. At the end of this season Savanna's 84-year-old football program will be combined with archrival Mount Carroll-Thomson's, playing in new colors under a new name. "That's going to suck," says quarterback Phil Worden.
Would the district have merged Savanna if it had won more? "Probably not," admits Baisden.
That leaves Savanna two more chances to win, or the streak lives on for eternity. Pressure, right? "Nah" says Buchholz," because when we break it, we'll be famous forever!"
Meanwhile, 1,750 miles away, in Berkeley, Calif., De La Salle High wins its 130th straight game, this one in front of 14,000 people and a TV audience. The tension there builds. "The team that loses is going to feel terrible," De La Salle coach Bob Ladouceur has said. "Those kids will feel they've let someone down."
Anyway, don't you feel a little sorry for them?