LOWELL | As the shadow of Isaac crept slowly in from the west, it was deja vu all over again at The Inferno on Friday night.
Same game, same position, but different uniform.
The Kankakee Valley-Lowell football game has never been a rivalry, despite the likeness and proximity of the rural schools. When one team has been pounded and humiliated over and over again, it is NOT a rivalry.
Well folks, “The Battle of the Milk Can” is officially a rivalry and everyone can think K.V.'s Tyler Birky for that. In Friday night's 17-7 win by the Kougars, everything changed.
“He reminds me of Mike Pickett,” Lowell coach Kieth Kilmer said on Wednesday.
“He's a lot like Pickett,” K.V. coach Brad Stewart said on Thursday.
The last time Kankakee Valley beat Lowell it was 1984. Van Halen was thin, the Cubs were good and this reporter had bangs.
That's 27 consecutive wins by the Red Devils, until Friday night.
“It was an ugly game,” said Stewart, who coached at Lowell when K.V. won back in the day.
“A huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders,” said Birky, who rushed for 102 yards with two touchdowns. He also had a fake punt pass for a first down in the second quarter that set up a score.
And, just for kicks, Birky had a 53-yard punt that landed on Lowell's 3-yard line.
Pickett was Lowell's first standout tailback who took the Red Devils to the top. Stewart was the Devils' defensive coordinator in the 1990s when Picket led the way to the promised land.
Birky is now the next grid prophet and he is leading K.V. toward the same place.
“I'm speechless,” the 6-foot-2, 200-pound senior said. “We've been waiting for this for forever. A real long time.”
The Kougars danced with the “Milk Jug” at their end of the field. Stewart started the sea change. The players heeded the call and made this happen. This team is not a type. They are for real.
“I've never known what this felt like,” Birky said of the “jug.” “I didn't even know what it looked like.”
History was made. This is why they play the games. A large following from Jasper County in red and black are surely still celebrating this morning. No one expected this, and it happened anyway.
This was no fluke. The Kougars kicked Lowell to the dirt.
“This reminds me of when Kirk (Kennedy) got here,” Stewart said. “We hadn't had a winning season in 20 years. This is kind of how this feels. We finally beat one of the big dogs.”
And it won't be the last.
This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.