Naperville North coach Jim Konrad and Naperville Central coach Troy Adams have been competing against each other since 2010 and have been friends for nearly that long.
Their teams have played against each other 21 times during that span. All have been memorable, most extremely competitive, but none was as poignant for the two men and their families as their clash at Naperville North on Tuesday.
For the first — and possibly only — time, all three of their sons played in the game. Senior defender Ryan Konrad represented the Huskies, while junior midfielder Carter Adams and freshman forward Chase Adams helped the Redhawks pull out a 2-1 DuPage Valley Conference victory.
“I like that they both played well, they both played under control, they were smart,” Troy Adams said of his sons. “They were both hardworking, they represented their school and they made me proud.”
Despite the fierce rivalry between the schools, Ryan Konrad and the Adams boys are close, having grown up around the game and each other from an early age.
“Obviously, it’s super special because we have the connection,” Carter Adams said. “When me and Chase were really little, we’d run onto the field for dad after high school games, and we’d see Ryan and Mr. Konrad, and we’d say ‘hi’ to them.”
The good feelings remain. Carter and Chase Adams have practiced with Jim Konrad’s club team alongside Ryan Konrad and several other Huskies.
“We talk with Ryan a lot, either through club or outside activities,” Carter Adams said. “It’s really fun to play and compete against those guys. They really push you to be better.”
Chase Adams delivered the signature moment on Tuesday, scoring the game-winning goal on a shot from a tough angle with 26:32 remaining in the second half. It gave the Redhawks (10-3, 3-0) a 2-0 lead and came just 28 seconds after senior midfielder Sean O’Reilly had scored.
Carter Adams was thrilled for his younger brother, who was playing in his first crosstown game.
“It was a dream come true,” Carter Adams said. “We haven’t beaten North in a long time, and to see my little brother do it and put us up 2-0, it was super special.
“It was really just a team effort from the back to the front.”
Naperville Central’s victory snapped an eight-game losing streak against the Huskies (8-3-1, 2-1) that dated to the 2017 season. Carter Adams played in three of those losses last year, so Chase Adams was happy to change the narrative.
“I spent those games watching from the stands, always having the heartbreak,” Chase Adams said. “I really loved watching my brother, and I wanted to go out there and help him.
“Now that I can, I’m very happy and glad I can play with him.”
The Huskies didn’t go down without a fight. Sophomore midfielder Jaxon Stokes scored with 8:43 left.
“The boys played great,” Jim Konrad said. “I thought Chase and Carter were amazing, and Ryan played very well too. I’m super proud of them.
“After the game, the kids on the field are hugging and shaking hands. They know it was a hard battle, and it was a great win for Central. They deserve to win today.”
In a way, though, it was a win for everyone, including the Konrad and Adams families and the fans who witnessed a great game.
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It also was the beginning of the end of an era. Ryan Konrad will graduate in the spring, and Carter Adams will follow the next year.
“You don’t get many minutes with your own kids,” Troy Adams said. “I came to the realization of this summer when I’m like, ‘Oh, man, I’ve only got two years left with my oldest one before he goes to college.’”
The Konrad and Adams sons could play against each other one more time in a possible sectional game. Both sides seem certain it will happen.
“Obviously, when you beat your rival, it’s super fun,” Carter Adams said. “But I do think we’ll see them again in the sectionals.”
The Huskies and Redhawks have played against each other in four sectional finals since 2011, with each side winning two. In 2017, Naperville North avenged a regular-season defeat with a 1-0 win, and then won 3-2 last year.
“Last time when we lost to them, we won the state championship,” Jim Konrad said. “So hopefully we can tell the same story.”
Matt Le Cren is a freelance reporter for the Naperville Sun.