On Nov. 3, 1894, the Ottawa and Streator high school football programs met for the first time. The newspaper account of the society editor of the Streator Daily Free Press witnessing her first football game that Saturday afternoon stated, “It’s a good game for the people looking on, but pretty much rough on the fellows engaged.”
Time hasn’t changed that for fans and followers of the two sides or the young men who have worn their school colors while battling on the gridiron the previous 97 times. Although the series hasn’t been played annually for different reasons, when it is scheduled it’s one each side puts a big red circle around on the calendar.
Here’s a dive into history and a recounting of some of those interesting matchups in years ending with the No. 2 viewed a decade at a time.
The teams played twice that season, with the first game in Streator at the end of October ending in a 6-6 tie. However, Ottawa sent a letter of protest to University of Chicago football coach Alonzo Stagg that a touchdown made by a player with the last name of Heiberg should have been allowed. On the final day of November, Stagg and other football authorities at the time decided on the side of Ottawa, giving them a 12-6 victory.
The second game took place in early November in Ottawa on a wet playing field that included a “small pool” of water at midfield. Streator trailed by a touchdown at halftime but came back to win the game, 22-14, with Max Hepler scoring a pair of touchdowns and Dwight Sinclair booting a pair of field goals.
The teams didn’t play in 1922 or 1932 but resumed the rivalry in 1934.
The game and battle for the Silver Jug was scheduled to be played Sept. 25 at Streator, but after rain began to fall in the afternoon, it quickly turned to snow. The snow eventually covered the field and made driving conditions dangerous, so the game was postponed until the following Monday. It is still the earliest recorded snowfall in northern Illinois, with 2 1/2 inches of snow recorded in Dwight that day.
Coach Joe Richards and Streator won the game 19-6 with rushing touchdowns by, Eddie Ramme, Merle Greenwood and Ben Kristal. Ottawa’s Joe Maccona scored his team’s lone touchdown in the third quarter and gained 121 of the Pirates’ 147 total yards.
In front of 5,000 fans on Streator’s homecoming in Week 2, Ottawa returned back north with a 14-6 triumph and gave Streator its only loss of the season. Coach Bill Novak’s Pirates held a 7-0 halftime advantage after Bob Dekreon picked off a Bulldogs pass near midfield and five plays later scored on a 5-yard run that preceded an extra-point boot by Mike Formhals.
Coach George Ashworth’s Streator bunch cut the lead to one point early in the third when QB Gene Renner threw a 74-yard TD pass to Ron McBride, but the PAT failed after a fumbled snap. Ottawa sealed the win in the fourth when Dave Zwanzig capped a five-play, 62-yard drive with a 2-yard dash around right end – Formhal adding the PAT.
Ottawa finished the season 7-0-2, while Streator’s final record stood at 7-1-1.
In front of an estimated crowd of 4,000, Ottawa entered the North Central Northeast Division game in Week 4 with host Streator at 3-0 and on a 19-game winning streak. Novak’s Pirates grabbed the lead in the second quarter on a Jerry Cross 6-yard TD run that completed a 94-yard drive, with Art Barth adding the first of two PAT kicks. In the third, Ottawa recovered a blocked punt at the Streator 39, and three plays later Pirates QB Dan Battles scored on an 8-yard run.
Coach Reino Nori’s Bulldogs finished out the game’s scoring late in the third when Mike Marx went around left end for a 7-yard score. The hosts had one last chance but lost a fumble near midfield with two minutes to play to lose, 14-6.
Cross finished with 12 carries for 106 yards, while Tom Stevenson gained 82 yards on 18 tries. Bill Ahearn led Streator with 75 yards on 14 carries, with Otto Giesholt also rushing 14 times for 42 yards.
Ottawa ended the season 9-0 for the second straight fall, while Streator finished 4-4.
On Friday the 13th in the second week of October on Streator’s homecoming, Ralph Nelson’s Ottawa squad led 20-0 at halftime on the way to a 36-6 victory over coach Joe Hall’s Bulldogs.
In the first half, the Pirates’ Steve Dobberstein scored on runs of 1 and 4 yards, with QB Bob Kistenfeger hitting Bob Makeever with a 3-yard scoring pass. Streator scored on the first play of the fourth quarter with Ron Yuhas scoring on a 4-yard blast. From there, Kistenfeger and Ed Alderman hooked up on a 36-yard TD pass, and Chuck Singer (five carries, 51 yards) scored on a 7-yard run.
Kistenfeger ran eight times for 79 yards while also completing 9 of 14 passes for 145 yards. Streator’s Greg Washko rushed for 64 yards, Yuhas for 58 and Pete Kiessling 48.
The Pirates held a 446-165 advantage in total yards.
Both teams entered the Oct. 1 NCIC opening game at King Field with 2-1 records. After a scoreless first half, coach Jim Young’s Bulldogs outscored coach Walt Piller’s Pirates 22-13 for the victory.
Ottawa grabbed the lead early in the third when QB Mike Cassidy hit John Biffany for a 22-yard score on fourth-and-5, the former adding the PAT kick. Streator’s Ron Harcar scored from the 1, and the Bulldogs recorded a safety to take the lead for good. Near the end of the quarter, David Wade scored from the 1 to give Streator a 15-7 lead, but early in the fourth Ottawa closed to within 15-13 on an Andy Seth 7-yard TD reception from Cassidy. The Bulldogs wrapped things up on the following possession when Kirk Bednar found Craig Stefan for a 17-yard TD pass – Dave Phillis adding his second PAT boot.
Wade rushed 13 times for 61 yards, Bednar was 7-of-13 passing for 101 yards, and Eric Dickman caught four passes for 78 yards. Cassidy finished 17 of 29 for 204, with Seth making nine catches for 128, and Joel Soltis ran for 57 yards.
In the conference opener for each team at King Field in Week 4, coach Tom Jobst’s Ottawa club scored 14 points in the first and third quarters to top coach John Van Fleet’s Streator squad 28-7.
The Pirates’ Jake DeWalt opened the scoring with a 6-yard TD run – Shane Hallam adding the PAT kick – midway in, while QB Kyle Windy hit Shane Burgwald with a 28-yard scoring pass with just over a minute left. Streator made it a 14-7 game when QB Tim Olson found Dan Estes for a 6-yard TD pass 31 seconds left before halftime.
In the third, Windy returned a punt 38 yards for a TD and then scored on a 2-yard run to help the hosts pull away.
Aaron Shea paced the Pirates’ ground attack with 60 yards, with Windy adding 57, Burgwald 39 and DeWalt 37. Olson finished 12 of 24 for 125 yards, with Tom Gregg catching four passes for 55 yards, while Ryan Lovins ran for 52 yards on 17 tries.
In Week 4 and Ottawa’s homecoming, Streator’s Mike Hagerty Jr. ran 80 yards for a touchdown on the first play from scrimmage in coach Kelly Kane’s Bulldogs’ 21-14 victory in both team’s NCIC Northeast Conference opener.
Shortly after Hagerty’s burst, Ottawa took the lead on John Cameron’s 20-yard TD run on fourth-and-10 and Brett Lockas’ PAT boot. Coach Tim Jobst’s Pirates took a 14-6 lead into halftime after Garin Harcar ran it in from the 3 early in the second.
Streator tied the contest three minutes into the third when George Solon scored on a run from the 2 and then caught a two-point conversion pass from Hagerty. Then with eight minutes to play, Aaron Yuhas capped a 12-play, 63-yard drive by scoring on a 1-yard run for the visitors – with Hagerty’s PAT boot ending the night’s scoring. The Streator defense allowed only 41 yards and forced three turnovers in the second half.
Hagerty finished with 85 yards rushing and 77 passing for Streator, while Lockas rushed for 56 and T.J. Ahearn 54 for Ottawa, which qualified for the Class 6A playoffs and finished 7-4.
In Week 3 on the muddy SHS Athletic Fields during homecoming, Ottawa’s Michael Hermosillo ran the first play from scrimmage 72 yards for a touchdown to jump-start the Pirates to a 41-6 triumph over the Bulldogs in each team’s Northern Illinois Big 12 West Division opener.
Hermosillo would go on to score four more times (8, 8, 43, 1) in the game and finish with 291 yards rushing (the sixth highest for a single game in program history) on 19 carries. The other two TD scores for coach Trent Swords’ Pirates came on a Will Hoffman-to-Cody Stokes 16-yard TD pass in the second and a J.D. Bryant (63 yards on seven tries) 15-yard rushing score in the third. Pirates kicker Tristan Cunha booted five extra points.
Streator avoided the shutout when Nick Hardgrove (nine carries, 52 yards) scored on a 1-yard run with three minutes remaining.
Ottawa, which held a 490-148 advantage in total yards, went on to finish the season 11-1 and reached the Class 6A quarterfinals in the playoffs.
On the night the Streator football field was named “Doug Dieken Stadium” for the SHS grad and Cleveland Browns legend, coach Kyle Tutt’s Bulldogs jumped out to a 14-0 lead over Ottawa midway through the second quarter on a scoring pass from Christian Benning to DJ White, an 85-yard interception return by Aneefy Ford and a 2PAT run by Isiah Brown.
From there the Week 2 game was all Pirates, as they scored 42 consecutive points to roll to a 42-14 victory. Coach Chad Gross’s Ottawa squad, which led in first downs (27-11) and total yards (431-143) in the contest, was led by RBs Ryder Miller (15 carries, 103 yards, three touchdowns) and Julian Alexander (13-105), QB Colby Mortenson (11 of 13 passing for 146 yards and 2 TDs) and WRs Packston Miller (4 catches, 93 yards, 1 TD) and Levi Sheehan (4-40-1).
Conner Price picked off a pair of passes for Ottawa, while Sheehan also recorded an INT.