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Prep football insider: Bulldogs’ defense hitting stride

Published: Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2013 5:32 a.m. CDT
Caption
(Sandy Bressner – sbressner@shawmedia.com)
St. Charles North's Evan Kurtz (24) is taken down by a host of Bulldogs Friday during a home game against Batavia.

The postgame question posed was whether Friday’s 44-7 thrashing of St. Charles North constituted Batavia’s best performance of the season.

Michael Moffatt, a standout receiver/cornerback for the Bulldogs, would only take part of the bait, saying it was the Bulldogs’ strongest outing defensively, not necessarily overall.

The Bulldogs’ defense allowed no points to the North Stars, who had averaged 44 points a game during their previous three contests.

“Our players fly to the football,” Batavia coach Dennis Piron said. “There’s always 11 guys at the ball, they’re always playing downhill, they’re always checking their keys, they’re always doing a very good job. 

“Very, very pleased. Very happy for that defense, [defensive coordinator Matt Holm] and all the work that he puts in, the time with those kids. I know they have a great relationship over there on that side of the ball. That was a really great defensive effort.”

The win puts Batavia on the doorstep of a three-peat in the Upstate Eight Conference River Division.

The Bulldogs (6-1, 4-0 UEC River) can clinch at least a share of the conference title with a win Friday against St. Charles East (5-2, 3-1 UEC River) at Bulldog Stadium. Geneva (4-1 UEC River) is the other team still clinging to title possibilities.

“We’ve got to come out just as strong against St. Charles East,” Moffatt said. “They’re a very good team, a lot of talent, so we’ve got to continue making improvements and keep playing playoff football.”

North in limbo

Friday’s loss to Batavia moves St. Charles North perilously close to missing the playoffs for the fourth straight season.

North (3-4) closes the regular season with winnable games against Larkin (3-4) and South Elgin (2-5) but the North Stars project among the lowest potential 5-4 teams in playoff points, which typically eliminates some of the 5-4 teams with weaker strength of schedule from the playoff field.

All three of North’s wins have come against teams that currently are 0-7. North’s cause wasn’t helped Friday when one of its non-conference opponents, Elk Grove, dropped a 43-42 thriller against Hersey.

“[At 5-4], points-wise, we’ll be on the low end of the points, but I’ll take my chances,” first-year North coach Rob Pomazak said. “We’ve got to do our job. Larkin is not a pushover. They’re a very good football team, and I’ve seen them play. We’ve got to go 2-0 the rest of the way and then let the football gods decide if we’re worthy to play in the playoffs or not. So the goal still stays there.”

Not forgotten

Kaneland senior running back Jesse Balluff has been out since tearing his ACL Week 3 at Sterling.

Balluff, one of the Knights’ elite players and popular with his teammates, has been around the team part-time since the injury, Kaneland coach Tom Fedderly said. Fedderly hopes Balluff’s presence is even more consistent as Kaneland nears the playoffs.

“We want him around here all the time,” Fedderly said. “He’s been doing so much rehab that he hasn’t been around a whole lot. But we’re hoping as we go along here that he’ll be here for practices more and that kind of stuff. He’s always like a coach on the field on the sidelines during the games.”

– Jay Schwab, jschwab@shawmedia.com

IN THE GROOVE

Michael Moffatt, Batavia, Sr., WR/CB

What he did: Moffatt returned an interception 95 yards for a touchdown and also hauled in a difficult, one-handed reception down to North’s 1 to set up another TD, in addition to helping clamp down on St. Charles North’s passing game Friday during the Bulldogs’ 44-7, road win. “Michael’s a special football player,” Batavia coach Dennis Piron said. “He has been since he was a little kid. He understands the game very well, and the importance of things.”

Kaneland defense

What the Knights did: Kaneland recorded its second shutout of the season Friday as the Knights rolled Yorkville, 41-0. The Knights held Yorkville to 22 rushing yards and 45 passing yards while notching three interceptions. Cole Carlson, Alec Aurelio and Isaac Swithers had the interceptions.

WHAT WE LEARNED FROM LAST WEEK

Even a two-time defending state champion can’t absorb mass injuries without falling apart.

Aurora Christian lost by running clock – role reversal for a program accustomed to dishing out the beatings – Saturday at IC Catholic Prep, 48-6. The beaten-up Eagles were missing several key performers on both sides of the ball, including usual quarterback Austin Bray (separated shoulder). 

It was the second straight loss for Aurora Christian, now 5-2 heading into Saturday’s game against Montini.

WHAT WE’LL LEARN IN THE WEEK AHEAD

Whether Geneva has a realistic shot at a home, first-round playoff game.

The Vikings are likely to close the regular season on a six-game winning streak if they’re able to win Friday at Metea Valley, with winless Streamwood on tap the following week. A 7-2 record would put Geneva on the bubble for starting the playoffs at Burgess Field or hitting the road.

COACH SLY SAYS

Earlier this year, it looked like Aurora Christian-Montini might be Game of the Week when it came for Week 8. After Saturday, that doesn’t look like the case. St. Charles East-Batavia is a nice Week 8 matchup, too, but the Saints aren’t playing well enough to expect this to go to the wire.

Are we missing something? Oh yeah, how about Kaneland-Sycamore, two 7-0 teams going at it with the conference title on the line?

That’ll work. Local football fans would have to cross county lines to see this one, but it’s a game that figures to be well worth a little extra travel.

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