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Football insider: Petrando, Spartans push for playoffs

St. Francis senior fullback Jack Petrando also played a few snaps at linebacker during Friday's game against Marmion, Petrando's first since tearing his right MCL during summer camp.
St. Francis senior fullback Jack Petrando also played a few snaps at linebacker during Friday's game against Marmion, Petrando's first since tearing his right MCL during summer camp.

St. Francis fullback Jack Petrando gashed Marmion for 151 yards Friday in his first game since suffering a right MCL tear during summer camp in July.

Usually, that kind of rushing attack is a recipe for success for the Spartans, but this hasn't been the group of Petrando's junior season in 2011. In the past month, these aren't even the Spartans that started 3-0 with Petrando looking on in streetclothes.

Marmion's 14-6 upset at College of Dupage sent St. Francis to its fourth straight loss. Over the weekend, the Spartans worked to shed any snakebitten feelings about the skid, especially with road games against struggling Guerin (1-6) and St. Edward (2-5) looming in St. Francis' quest for a xth straight playoff berth.

"Playoffs is really what we wanted," Petrando said. "We know we needed that Marmion game. We played well at times, but at the end of the day, we lost. It's definitely tough. We still have a chance to get in, but that sixth win puts you right there, and that's what we wanted."

Friday's loss notwithstanding, Petrando's return two weeks ahead of doctors' initial forecasts gives the Spartans an undoubted spark and makes them a potentially tough draw for a top seed should they qualify for the postseason at 5-4.

Entering Week 8, St. Francis ranked fourth in the six-team Suburban Christian Conference Blue with 29 playoff points, 16 behind leader Montini.

Petrando also played a handful of snaps at linebacker in the Marmion game. It's likely Spartans coach Greg Purnell can temper Petrando's usage against Guerin, which hasn't scored since Week 2.

Either way, Petrando is eager to salvage something from his final high school season, knee brace and all.

"I missed football so much," he said. "I missed it a lot. It[ stunk] that that had to be my first game and I couldn't be out there for all the others."

Knights keep rolling through NI Big 12 East
Kaneland scored its 13th victory in as many Northern Illinois Big 12 Conference East games with Friday's 55-0 romp at Yorkville.

Since the league's inception in 2010, the Knights have won by an average of 27.3 points in conference play, but they'd just as soon such statistics reset each Friday.

"We don't want to get a big head," junior running back/safety Jesse Balluff said. "We know that we could lose any week. I definitely try to keep people humble. I don't want anybody getting cocky, you know. So we've just got to keep working."

The Knights host Sycamore (5-2) and Morris (7-0) to close the regular season as they aim for a third straight conference title. Last season's Morris game, a 31-28 Kaneland victory, was the team's closest conference shave by eight points.

Geneva football part of breast cancer initiative
Geneva is set to be part of a National Breast Cancer Awareness Month effort when it hosts Metea Valley in its home football finale at 7:30 p.m. Friday.

"A Crucial Catch: Annual Screening Saves Lives" is a venture between the American Cancer Society, National Football League and high school teams nationwide. Geneva students will sell pink T-shirts and rally towels as a fundraiser for breast cancer research. In addition, a local florist has donated carnations as part of an on-field, halftime ceremony recognizing breast cancer survivors.

"The students really took this on and made it their own, which is great," said American Cancer Society staff partner Megan Goldbeck, who has worked with Geneva faculty member Mary Keyzer in coordinating the event. "It really says something about the staff and kids at Geneva High."

For more information on the effort, log on to or call (800) 227-2345.

– Kevin Druley,


Jesse Balluff,
Kaneland, Jr., RB/S
What he did:
Balluff helped keep the Knights unbeaten by scoring four touchdowns – two each rushing and receiving – and snagging an interception that set up another score in Kaneland's 55-0 road rout of Yorkville.

Anthony Scaccia
Batavia, Jr., RB
What he did:
Scaccia accounted for just over 40 percent of Batavia's total offense in Friday's 35-20 victory against St. Charles North, getting 144 of his 150 yards on the ground while scoring a pair of rushing touchdowns.

Burlington Central needs help in its quest for a Big Northern East title. Richmond-Burton blanked BC, 28-0, in Friday's meeting of Rocket men, handing Central its first conference loss. Both Rockets teams trail league leader North Boone, which is unbeaten but plays R-B and BC in the next two weeks.

Whether St. Charles North, St. Francis and Wheaton Academy can create potential playoff play-in games in Week 9. Each of those teams stands at 3-4 after seven weeks, and must win out to become playoff eligible on Selection Saturday, Oct. 20. The good news: the North Stars, Spartans and Warriors face competition that's further below .500 than they are this week.

It was fun seeing Micah Coffey bolt down the sidelines to cinch Batavia's win against Polaris on Friday. Coffey shows his wheels enough during baseball season, but when it comes to the gridiron, the Dogs' junior QB usually has more than enough weapons to take care of that stuff for him.

With this week's de facto UEC River title game coming up Friday at STC East, look for Batavia to try being even more multiple against the Saints. Batavia brings a big playbook into every season, but a game like Friday's calls for pulling out every last stop if you wanna win.

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