When Marian Central Catholic head coach Mike Maloney steps foot on the turf at Joliet Memorial Stadium Friday night, you can understand if he feels a little out of sorts.
"It just hit me last night (Sunday) that this will be the first time that I'll ever be on the opposing sideline at Memorial Stadium," Maloney said. "I spent so many years on the home side either playing and wearing brown and white or rooting for JCA."
Maloney was a standout All State two-way linemen for Joliet Catholic’s 1999 4A state title team, coached by current JCA head coach Dan Sharp. Some considered this JCA team one of the best in their long and storied history.
Fast forward 16 years.
Maloney and the 24th-ranked Hurricanes (4-0) are coming off a stunning 34-19 come from behind upset win over defending Class 6A champs Nazareth Academy (3-1). Next up for MCC: a date with the 6th-ranked Hilltoppers. This time around, he won't be wearing brown and white, but instead, cardinal red and Columbia blue. But he won't have any part of any pomp and circumstance on Friday night.
"I'm excited and I know I'll also be anxious the closer we get to kickoff," Maloney said. "I know that once I took the job here at Marian one of the first games I looked for was when we played JCA. The moment I saw them on the schedule, it was just a special and unique feeling."
"I still talk to Dan (Sharp) quite a bit and we have a mutual love and respect for each other to this day. I guess the best way I can honor him and everyone at JCA is to bring a well prepared team on Friday night ready to play a hard fought game. I know that my entire family plus a lot of friends will be there on Friday night and that's great. I'm just too focused on the game to really pay too much attention to it all."