MAPLE PARK – Balance and quality depth are hallmarks of this year’s Kaneland football team, and nowhere does that hold true more than in the Knights’ receiving corps.
As the unbeaten Knights prepare to host Yorkville tonight, the Foxes will be the latest opposing defense that must try to figure out which poison to ingest against Kaneland’s multipronged passing attack.
“It’s pretty exciting because I don’t think we really have a weak link on the receiving corps,” Kaneland senior receiver Brandon Bishop said. “I think everyone’s doing their job, and [quarterback Drew David] has a lot of guys to rely on. Everyone’s putting in the work every day.”
Bishop is one of three Kaneland receivers with more than 300 receiving yards to his credit, and five Knights targets have more than 100 receiving yards through six weeks.
Kaneland coach Tom Fedderly has overseen some elite No. 1 receivers in his days as Kaneland’s coach and offensive coordinator. While this year’s group lacks a Casey Crosby or Quinn Buschbacher, it compensates with a multiple of attractive options.
David said the Knights are able to put defenses “in a bind” with their depth. Bishop (20 catches, 434 yards, two TDs), John Pruett (21 catches, 345 yards, five TDs) and Dylan Nauert (19 catches, 318 yards, one TD) have emerged as the Knights’ big three, with junior receiver Connor Fedderly and senior tight end Tyler Slamans also regularly in the mix.
“This might be one of the deeper ones that we’ve had, where there’s not one guy catching 70 balls and the second receiver’s only got 50,” David said. “We’ve got a bunch of guys that are all even, and a bunch of guys that I really trust a lot, so it’s really nice.”
Bishop has played receiver since sixth grade, and said his greatest progress at the position has come in the past year. He acknowledged that the Knights’ passing game prowess is largely attributable to the team’s success running the football.
Even after standout running back Jesse Balluff was lost to an ACL tear, the Knights – behind an imposing offensive line – have remained committed to run/pass balance.
“The corners and linebackers can’t really just concentrate on the pass,” Bishop said. “They have to also look for the run, so it’s helping the receivers get open, and helping Drew make easier reads this year.”
Fedderly said the array of quality receivers makes for ideal competition in practice.
“We put in different personnel packages, so for some of the packages we have, there’s only a couple receivers, and it’s a fight to see who’s going to be those two receivers,” Fedderly said. “Everybody wants to be on the field all the time but … with the different personnel things that we do, it creates a competition.”
Fedderly is enjoying the season greatly, and not just because the Knights have won handily each time out, while extending the program’s regular season winning streak to 34 games.
For the first time, he’s been able to directly mentor his son, Connor, during games. Connor Fedderly was on varsity as a sophomore but was shelved with a collarbone injury most of the season.
“I’m always coaching him when he’s at home, we’re always talking about stuff, so all the way through, we’ve always been able to talk football,” Fedderly said. “I just haven’t been on the field with him.
“ … I remember the days when we won the second state championship (in 1998), with Connor just running down on the turf,” Fedderly said. “He’s always been around the team. He’s been a ball boy ever since he could carry one of the bottles or whatever. It’s pretty gratifying to see him really be a positive part of the team and being able to make plays out there.”