STILLMAN VALLEY, Ill. (WTVO/WQRF) — Byron will take on Stillman Valley in football this Friday night at Stillman. It’s one of the absolute best rivalries in this state. These two teams will be giving it their all to pick up a win, but at the same time they’re also teaming up for a cause that’s much more important than a game.

These two programs and these two schools know the emotional highs and lows of this rivalry. Last season, the Cardinals pulled out an overtime win. The two programs wound up tying for the Big Northern Conference championship, but there will be some different emotions felt this Friday night because two families, one from each school, have gone through some tough times recently.

Byron senior linebacker Nick Ingram lost his father Brad when he passed away unexpectedly last Friday morning.

The father of Stillman Valley senior linebacker/fullback Johnny DeKlerk, Johan DeKlerk was critically injured in a motorcycle accident a couple Fridays ago. He’s still recovering in a hospital.

So, Byron and Stillman Valley will show their support for these two families Friday night at the game.

“There’s a family from Stillman and there’s a family from Byron that need our help right now,” said Byron head coach Jeff Boyer. So, as a football program, myself and coach Lalor we thought that would be a great thing if we could kind of help to raise money to help those families out.”

Stillman Valley head coach Mike Lalor is in complete agreement. “You’re given a platform here that you can maybe do something more than just football with that, and coach Boyer has been great to work with, and he’s spearheaded a lot of these different things over the years.”

Generally at this rivalry game, these two schools have raised money for things like Shriners Hospitals for Children. This year during the game, cheerleaders will be going around the crowd seeking donations to help support the needs of the Ingram and DeKlerk families.

“We’ve done this in the past to help raise money for Shriners, and that’s gone extremely well over the years,” said Boyer. “I think that’s only going to be magnified here on Friday night.”

Football coaching staffs like their players to think of each other as family. That’s never been truer for these two programs than it has been in recent days. Lalor says Stillman’s players have rallied around DeKlerk and his father.

“I know the players have been going up to the hospital on a fairly regular basis and staying in touch with him just to let him know they’re thinking about him and trying to be as good a support as they can with the situation.”

Wins and losses mean a lot in high school football, especially in rivalry games. Sometimes though we get a harsh reminder, that there are some things much more significant that winning a game.

“You always realize that there are people going through things far more difficult than what we are as a team or program,” said Lalor. “You hope your kids understand that a little bit as they start to go out and become young men that there are bigger things out there, and that they need to step up in their adult life and try to help people through these things as well.”

“We’re a tight-knit family here at Byron,” said Boyer. “Anything that we can do to support each other, I think is much more important than the game of football.”

If you will be at the game Friday night at Stillman Valley, watch for the cheerleaders accepting donations. If you won’t be at that game, but you want to help out the two families, the DeKlerk’s have a Go Fund Me page set up. Here is the link to that.

An account has been set up at the Byron Bank for the Ingram family. Checks can be made out to the Brad Ingram Memorial Fund and sent to Byron Bank, 200 N. Walnut Street in Byron, Illinois 61010.