Backfield not just a one-man show
BATAVIA – Take a quick peek at the Batavia football roster, and the often-celebrated names jump out at you – Coffey, Scaccia, Moffatt, Thielk.
The 10-1 Bulldogs are still playing for a reason, much of it because of the aforementioned players’ numerous and oftentime flashy contributions. But as the Bulldogs prepare for Saturday’s IHSA Class 6A quarterfinal matchup with visiting Lake Forest, moving on might depend on how well Batavia blocks and mixes up its running attack against a formidable Scouts defense.
Offensively, those sometimes underappreciated tasks often fall on the shoulders of senior running backs Kevin Green and Anthony Moneghini, who selflessly target opposing linebackers to clear space for featured back Anthony Scaccia while making the most of their own limited carries.
Batavia coach Dennis Piron made it clear that if players can’t block, they likely won’t be on the field for long. The Bulldogs run under-center and shotgun plays that feature several different players that either stay in the backfield to protect quarterback Micah Coffey or seek out opposing linebackers and safeties to block and “blow up.”
The Bulldogs’ blocking prowess as a team has produced record numbers on the offensive side of the ball this season. Through 11 games, Batavia is averaging an amazing 45.7 points a game – a school record – and has scored an astounding 74 touchdowns, 48 of which have come via the run.
“I’ve been playing fullback since fifth grade so I’m pretty used to blocking all of the time and getting the ball every once in a while – I like what I do,” Moneghini said. “Scaccia is one of my best friends so we have that chemistry. There are certain plays where we see the outside and say let’s get there. I’m not really looking to get praise for what I do, I just like blocking.”
Unlike Moneghini, Green started playing football as an offensive lineman and attributes his blocking ability to his early playing days in the trenches. The senior didn’t find the offensive backfield until high school.
“It’s a big surprise for people who see me now that I played offensive line growing up,” Green said. “That’s where I got my good blocking ability from. I got injured last year and missed the entire year. Basically this year, I’ve been just trying to go all out and try to make the best blocks for Scaccia that I can.”
Scaccia, who has a school-record 1,405 rushing yards and 27 total touchdowns (21 rushing), cites the chemistry with his backfield-mates as a big reason for his own success.
“A lot of it’s about trust; I just have to trust that they’re going to do their job,” Scaccia said. “Anthony and I have been tailback/running back together since freshman year, so we have good chemistry. Kevin is just an outstanding player who has been doing a good job this year and is finally healthy. We’re all pretty tight, we’ve been friends since the beginning of high school and even middle school.”
Despite being asked to block more often than not, Green and Moneghini have both found the end zone semi-regularly this season. Each player scored in Batavia’s 48-13 second-round playoff rout of Rolling Meadows, adding more players for the opposition to account for. Through 11 games, Green and Moneghini have combined to score 11 touchdowns.
“If you block as much as they have to block for people and you get your chance, you’re going to make sure you score, and they do,” Piron said. “They work very had and care greatly about what they do but they’re unselfish.”
Batavia will have a difficult task against Lake Forest’s defense as the Scouts have allowed a combined 13 points in the first two rounds of the playoffs during a pair of blowout wins over Chicago Hubbard and De La Salle.
Lake Forest plays a tough schedule in the North Suburban Conference that features powers Lake Zurich and Stevenson, both of which are still playing in larger classes.
“I know Lake Forest has a really good defense – that’s what they’re known for,” Scaccia said. “We just have to execute our gameplan and have a good week of practice.”