Undefeated ’Dogs do the hustle
Hustle points trump style points as currency for Batavia’s defense, which limited St. Charles East backs Erik Anderson and Joe Hoscheit to about 3 yards a carry in a Week 8 win.
While the marks might not count toward their grade-point averages, Bulldogs defenders are plenty aware of defensive coordinator Matt Holm’s assessments as he watches film each week.
A score under 10 is dominant, and lately the norm, but Holm occasionally has given rankings near 30 based on his sight-heavy system.
“It’s basically just making sure that we’re hustling, getting to the ball,” senior linebacker Cullin Rokos said. “Making sure that if a tackle is broken, we’ve got 10 other guys there to make the tackle.”
Batavia clinched at least a share of its second successive Upstate Eight Conference River Division title with a 19-6 victory at East. The Bulldogs lead the conference in points scored (275) and fewest points allowed (131) as they prepare to visit Elgin – the team at the opposite end of both categories – to close the regular season Friday.
After graduating several core members of last year’s 12-1, Class 6A state semifinal team – including brawny two-way standouts Cole Gardner and Alec Lyons – Batavia is on the verge of its second straight unbeaten regular season and a likely No. 1 seed in the playoffs.
“We had a lot to live up to from last year. We had a lot of expectations, that we were basically trying to fill the shoes of what last year’s team set for us,” Rokos said. “Going into the season, we knew what we had to accomplish. I think we had a lot of guys step up, and we’re really getting it done. It’s just all kind of coming together, and it’s been a great year.”
Count him in
Kaneland junior quarterback Drew David will play in Friday’s showdown with fellow unbeaten Morris for the Northern Illinois Big 12 East crown, Knights coach Tom Fedderly indicated Monday.
Fedderly said David was held out of the Knights’ Week 8 victory against Sycamore as a precaution from a practice injury. David “could have played if needed,” according to Fedderly, but Kaneland didn’t have to press the issue as junior backup Tyler Carlson and a strong defense helped the team to a 30-7 victory.
Carlson carried 17 times for 104 yards and two touchdowns. His first scoring run answered Sycamore’s game-opening TD and spurred the Knights to 30 unanswered points. The veteran-laden offensive line of left tackle Zach Theis, left guard Shane Jorgensen, center Nick Sharp, right guard Joe Komel and right tackle Alex Snyder cleared the path for 324 rushing yards on 46 carries, a 7-yards-per-rush average.
“Four of them came back from last year, so we expected them being the strength of our team, really,” Fedderly said. “And they haven’t disappointed at all.”
Making a point
The IHSA’s weekly online playoff outlook offers only a hypothetical peek at the postseason field if the season ended at any point before Week 9.
Still, this week’s projections figure to provide a more reasonable window as the regular season draws to a close.
Among the notable classifications released Monday, Kaneland ranks as the largest school in Class 5A, while Batavia is slotted among the smallest in 7A. The Bulldogs have been part of the 6A field in seven of their past nine postseasons, but qualified in 7A in 2003 and 2007.
St. Charles East (5-3) and St. Charles North (4-4) also are tentatively part of the 7A field, with nonplayoff eligible Geneva apparently thrown in for posterity. The IHSA broadcasts a playoff pairings show Saturday night.
– Kevin Druley, firstname.lastname@example.org
IN THE GROOVE
Geneva, Sr., RB What he did: Tallying five total touchdowns – four rushing, one receiving – Hess helped boost Geneva to a 61-48 shootout victory against Metea Valley in its home finale. Hess rushed 39 times for 250 yards and caught a scoring pass for 60 yards.
Aurora Christian, Sr., QB What he did: McQuade completed 26 of 44 passes for 317 yards, two touchdowns and one interception as Aurora Christian nearly erased an 18-point, third-quarter deficit at Montini.
WHAT WE LEARNED LAST WEEK ...
Defending Class 3A state champion Aurora Christian keeps making the big boys sweat. Until this season, none of the eight smallest-enrollment schools in the Suburban Christian Conference had defeated any of the four largest schools. The Eagles turned that trend upside down, beating St. Francis and Marmion in consecutive weeks before coming within 3:48 of defeating defending 5A state champ Montini in Week 8.
WHAT WE’LL LEARN IN THE WEEK AHEAD ...
Which teams land in which classes in the postseason – and which teams will be playoff-bound at all. As the IHSA selection show looms Saturday, Batavia (8-0), Kaneland (8-0), Aurora Christian (7-1) and Aurora Central Catholic (6-2) are assured of berths and are playing for seeding in Week 9. St. Charles East and Burlington Central, both 5-3, are playoff-eligible but need victories to assure spots, while 4-4 St. Charles North, St. Francis and Wheaton Academy must win and hope their respective playoff point totals make the grade.
COACH SLY SEZ ...
Sly’s not particularly keen on the Dave Matthews Band, but still can’t help but thinking of the group’s ditty “So Much To Say.”
Week 8 sure gave us a mouthful, didn’t it? Batavia and Kaneland stayed undefeated, Aurora Christian came within a late fumble of doing the same, and St. Charles North, St. Francis and Wheaton Academy set up must-win situations in Week 9.
Gonna be fun to see how the pairings shake out this weekend.
What would you say to a trio of top playoff seeds in Chronicle Country this fall?
• You can respond at kcchronicle.com/blogs/sly.