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Druley: Mini Batavia football reunion at Rock Island

Batavia offensive coordinator Mike Gaspari knows he’s attending Saturday’s North Central College at Augustana football game with his wife, Marcia.

He might well see several other familiar faces during his drive along Interstate 88.

College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin rivals North Central and Augustana both feature a handful of former Bulldogs, including Augustana’s Ben Fornek, a sophomore starter at defensive back. Gaspari’s son, Noel, is the Cardinals’ second-string quarterback, continuing a Batavia tradition at NCC that includes the elder Gaspari as well as Batavia head coach Dennis Piron and defensive coordinator Matt Holm.

“We’re looking forward to having a nice day out there in Rock Island,” Mike Gaspari said. “It’s filled a nice void when our season ended earlier than we anticipated.”

While Batavia lost to Downers Grove North in the first round of the 7A playoffs on Oct. 26, alumni from its recent postseason teams play on. The Vikings’ roster also includes wide receiver Evan Zeddies and linebackers Jake Benner and Austin Lewis. Senior defensive end Shane Holl, a usual starter, has contended with nagging ankle injuries this season.

North Central – 7-2 and regularly ranked in NCAA Division III entering the regular-season finale – also features defensive back Kevin Schroeder, defensive lineman Jay Thrun and offensive lineman Brian Wilson of Batavia.

Augustana (5-4) has won four straight games.

Mike Gaspari, Batavia’s longtime head coach and athletic director before retiring at the end of the 2010-11 school year, has seen each of NCC’s home games and several road contests. He discussed that arrangement with Piron before the season and assured it would not compromise his commitment to the Bulldogs.

“We’ve just been fortunate to get so many kids playing close to home, let alone Noel,” Gaspari said. “It’s nice to see them all in the mix and playing on Saturdays.”

Never too early: Registration for the fourth annual Advocate Dreyer Fox Valley Marathon races in September 2013 is set to open Dec. 3 at, about seven weeks earlier than last year.

“This gives runners a chance to give marathon registration as a Christmas gift or a New Year’s resolution,” marathon co-organizer Dave Sheble said. “... But we also wanted to get the charities as much time to coordinate things for the runners who register through them.”

Marathon weekend includes a health and fitness expo (Sept. 20-21), the CASA Kane County Fox Valley Kids Marathon (Sept. 21) and the traditional slate of events on Sunday, Sept. 22 – the half marathon, Fall Final 20 and Fox Valley Marathon.

A special registration event will be held at the St. Charles Dick Pond Athletics, 303 N. 2nd St., from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dec. 1. Interested athletes can register by cash or check that day, with the first 50 registrants receiving a free Fox Valley Marathon oval magnet.

Sheble said prices still are being finalized.

Tiger tale: Kaneland and Lincoln-Way West shared a football field during this past weekend’s 5A second-round playoff game in New Lenox. Although one end of the equation is slightly less direct, both schools also boast ties to the AL champion Detroit Tigers.

A left-hander in the Tigers’ organization, Kaneland product Casey Crosby made three starts for Detroit during a June call-up, going 1-1 with a 9.49 ERA in 121⁄3 innings.

Tigers bullpen catcher Jeff Kunkel, meanwhile, is the twin of Lincoln-Way West activities director Heather Novak.

• Kevin Druley is a sports writer for the Kane County Chronicle. He can be reached at 630-845-5347 or

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