BATAVIA – A tipped ball at the line of scrimmage came fluttering toward Batavia linebacker Anthony Thielk, who had a potential interception in his sights but couldn’t reel in the ball.
Thielk, exasperated with himself, followed the Batavia defense’s practice ritual of doing a few push-ups as punishment before springing back to his feet.
“I jumped to go pick it, it got tipped like 15 feet in the air, and then I lost it in the lights,” Thielk said. “I bobbled it but I dropped it. Yeah, I had to do some push-ups.”
Good thing for Thielk. Batavia’s starters – most of whom played less than a quarter of Friday’s 62-14 Upstate Eight Conference River rout of Elgin – welcomed as much exercise as they could get to stay warm on a mostly sedentary night at Bulldog Stadium.
Batavia (8-1, 6-0 UEC River) led 42-0 with 3:08 still to play in the first quarter en route to clinching the conference title outright, one game ahead of second-place Geneva.
Bulldogs coach Dennis Piron has yet to lose a conference game in his three years as head coach.
This year’s Bulldogs outscored their six UEC River foes, 304-83.
“Our theme is ‘All In’ this year, and what I would say about that is coaches, kids, players, parents, community, youth programs – it’s kind of one, big unifying force,” Piron said. “I guess I’m an administrator, if you will. Hopefully a good one.”
Batavia has a loaded roster, and several of the Bulldogs’ second- and third-stringers had their chance to shine from the second quarter on.
“We have a very deep team,” senior tight end Alec Berry said. “We’re not worried at all if somebody gets injured because we’ll have someone gets injured because we’ll have someone who can fill that spot easily, just as well.”
Senior fullback Kevin Green had rushing and receiving touchdowns as part of Batavia’s first quarter outburst.
Among the other first-half highlights: a 36-yard touchdown pass from Micah Coffey to speedster Rourke Mullins that opened the scoring, Mullins’ 40-yard interception return for a touchdown and a blocked punt by Forrest Gilbertson that gave the Bulldogs possession at the Elgin 9.
It was a dreary end to a winless season for the Maroons.
“Obviously we’re very outmatched strength-wise,” Elgin coach Kyle Rohde said. “We have a lot of work to do in the offseason, and the kids know that. When you bench 100 pounds and [the guys across you] benches 300 pounds, it’s a big difference.”
Piron, though, saluted the Maroons’ second-half effort despite facing a 55-8 halftime deficit and a running clock.
“The best part of it was how Elgin kept fighting and how their kids played so hard but so clean,” Piron said. “We’ve been in some other games this year that weren’t quite that way.”
Backup running back Patrick Ward gained 64 yards on seven carries for Batavia, while reserve quarterback Evan Acosta had a pair of rushing touchdowns.
Now Batavia can turn its full attention to tonight’s playoff pairings announcement, with the Bulldogs sitting on the 6A/7A bubble.
“It’s kind of hard not to talk about it – 7A’s the most stacked class [in the state], I think,” Thielk said. “We’re excited. Anxious. We’ve been talking about it since this week. We just can’t wait to find out who we’re playing. We’re ready to go. We’re ready for a whole new season.”