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Hinsdale District 86 athletes 'in complete shock' about proposed cuts

With a $130 million referendum on April ballot, board votes to cut football, swimming, wrestling, water polo

Hinsdale Central's Matthew Rush passes the ball during their game against Downers Grove North Sept. 14.
Hinsdale Central's Matthew Rush passes the ball during their game against Downers Grove North Sept. 14.

Hinsdale Central junior wide receiver Braden Contreras called it the most fun game of his career.

The Red Devils erased a 21-point deficit in the third quarter to post a stunning 35-34 comeback win over Naperville Central in the season opener on Aug. 24.

“It was great to see everyone come together and do our thing to make plays against them in the clutch,” Contreras said. “I loved seeing the senior leadership and some of the juniors make huge plays that won us the game.”

But future memories in football for Hinsdale Central and Hinsdale South players are in jeopardy.

The Hinsdale High School District 86 Board voted Monday night to cut football, wrestling, swimming, water polo, marching band and cheerleading at Hinsdale Central and Hinsdale South for the 2018-19 calendar year.

A $166 million bond referendum to pay for renovations at the two schools was rejected by voters in November. But District 86 board members approved a $130 million referendum for the April 2 ballot.

The 101-player Hinsdale South football program cost the district $145,817 the past year, while the 179-player Hinsdale Central program cost was $129,705.

Many board members — and athletes at both schools — remain optimistic that those sports would be reinstated.

Hinsdale South junior quarterback Marquese Garrett planned on focusing this offseason on his securing his future to play college football. But he didn’t expect to worry about not playing football in his senior year. After a breakout season at quarterback, the 6-foot-1, 200-pound Garrett was named the West Suburban Gold Offensive Player of the Year.

“Hearing about that was tough, but I feel, at the end of the day, we will still have football and get together again as a team,” Garrett said. “My reaction now is that I think everything will be OK by the end of the day, just positive vibes. I’m a little nervous. I thought the plans I had for myself, the personal and team goals were going to be ruined. But I’m feeling confident which way this will fall.”

Both football programs have a rich history of success. Hinsdale Central finished last season with an 8-3 record —the 19th winning record in the last 20 seasons. Under Hinsdale South coach Mike Barry, the Hornets have won a minimum of five game in six of the last eight seasons.

Hinsdale South sophomore wide receiver Jaylon Smith said it was a sad day for the surrounding communities. Smith also plays basketball and runs track.

“I was in complete shock finding out about everything,” he said. “But we know we’ll get through it as a team…If money is that important, we will just have to fight through adversity and take our next opportunities. But I’m concerned for sure.”

Current Los Angeles Rams rookie center Brian Allen — and his two brothers — had storied football and wrestling careers at Hinsdale Central. All three brothers played football at Michigan State, and were state champions in wrestling.

Brian Allen said he was shocked at Monday night’s decision.

“At one point, it was my dream to go to Hinsdale Central and play at Dickinson Field on Friday nights,” Allen said. “I know that there’s still kids in Hinsdale with the same dreams because it means something to play at Hinsdale Central. Elimination would cause kids in Hinsdale to play elsewhere.”

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