MORTON — The Morton and Washington high school football teams won't meet on the gridiron until Oct. 20, the final game of the regular season.
On Sunday, the Mid-Illini Conference and neighboring rivals competed at a much different venue.
Three representatives from each team drifted through a crowd of several hundred spectators at Idlewood Park in Morton, collecting money for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in buckets with their school's logo at the 10th annual Backyard Talent Show for St. Jude.
Bolstered by a fundraising car wash Saturday, Washington won the fundraising competition by $1,332.
The Panthers' prize was to throw pies — actually whipped cream in tinfoil containers — in the faces of Morton's Potters on Idlewood Park's pavilion stage.
Seniors Aaron Boley, Josh Schellenberg and Jake Urban represented Washington. Seniors Bradley Getz, Parker Howard and Evan Heal represented Morton.
Each was proud of the fact that between them, the teams raised $5,856. Washington raised $3,594 and Morton raised $2,262.
"Amazing," Schellenberg said. "This competition was a lot of fun. Hopefully winning set the tone for our season."
"That's a lot of money for a great cause," Heal said.
Getz said getting a face full of whipped cream wasn't that bad.
"I'm sure the Washington guys will hit harder on Friday nights. I know I will," he said.
Fifteen Washington sophomore, junior and senior football players washed cars for four hours Saturday in the Big R store parking lot in town and raised about $1,600.
A $4 donation was asked for each car wash, but customers could toss in more cash. Some folks donated money without having their cars washed.
"I had two people each hand me a check for $100," said Washington assistant coach Zach Davis.
Washington Mayor Gary Manier stopped by to have his car washed, Davis said, and a few Washington football players who couldn't help out at the car wash had their cars washed.
The original pie-in-the-face competition idea was for Morton coach Tim Brilley or Washington coach Darrell Crouch be the "victim." But each coach had a prior commitment Sunday, so the focus shifted to the players, who gladly accepted the challenge.
"It all came together in a couple of weeks," said Beth Geier of Washington, one of the Backyard Talent Show's organizers.
Brilley is happy his team was involved in the competition.
"It's important for us to do things as a team outside football that represent our school and community in a positive way," he said.
Morton junior football player Connor Fisher is a cousin to each of the show's founders: Madison and Isabelle Kolvek and Claire and Kaitlyn Geier.
He's been at every show, either as a performer or a volunteer in the concession stand.
Fisher was the conduit between the show organizers and Brilley, delivering a letter to his coach about the pie-in-face competition.
"The competition was a great idea because of our rivalry with Washington," Fisher said.
This was the show's fourth pie-in-the-face competition. During the first three years, donors contributed to the person they wanted to get a pie in the face.
Morton policemen and firemen each got pies in the face in 2014 even though the police collected the most money.
Morton orthodontist Dr. Kevin Littlefield threw a pie in the face of Morton pediatrician Dr. Shad Beaty in 2015 and last year, sportscaster Lee Hall threw a pie in the face of colleague Jim Mattson.
There were 24 acts Sunday, the largest lineup in the show's history, with children ages 6 to 14 performing. As usual, St. Jude patients performed and worked behind the scenes.
With more than $130,000 raised through the years, show organizers are hoping this year's take will push the number past $150,000.
The evening included the traditional release of balloons honoring children who lost their battle to cancer over the past year. Thirty-seven balloons, each with a nametag, were sent drifting into the evening sky.
One balloon was for Lanie Riddle, who died Aug. 7 at age 10 before entering fifth grade at Grundy Elementary School in Morton, where she was an honor roll student.
Lanie performed in the Backyard Talent Show several times.
Six families who live in Morton or Washington organized this year's show including the founding Geier and Kolvek families.
The four new families — Jenkins, Ozella, McDougall and Wiegardt — have a combined 15 children. Each child helped organize and produce the show.
After being held in the Kolvek backyard in Morton for its three years, the show moved to Idlewood Park in 2011.
Steve Stein can be reached at 686-3114 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @SpartanSteve.