“All In” is the Batavia football program’s 2013 slogan, as anyone who takes even a quick peek into the Twitter universe can attest.
Batavia football coach Dennis Piron often speaks of the synergy between Bulldogs players, coaches, parents and the Batavia community, and proof that it is no empty platitude has come in resounding fashion this season.
After the Bulldogs defeated Lake Forest on a slick afternoon Nov. 16 at Bulldog Stadium, Piron said the level of detail Bulldogs coaches drill down to is “almost embarrassing,” all the way to perfecting a system for keeping footballs dry during the course of a rainy afternoon.
That might sound like overkill, but it’s also symbolic of the huge investments – physical, emotional and even financial – that so many in and around the program have made to allow the Bulldogs to become the program that they are.
Program, not just a team. This year’s Bulldogs are playing for the IHSA Class 6A state championship Saturday against Richards, but Batavia is 33-3 in Piron’s three years as head coach, advancing deep into November in two of those three seasons.
There have been many impressive performances during that three-year stretch, but a case can be made that Saturday’s 38-6 thumping of Rockford Boylan tops the list. It was a complete performance by a complete team, and nothing less is required to go on the road against an undefeated team in a state semifinal and flirt with a running clock.
Batavia has two all-staters in seniors Michael Moffatt and Anthony Scaccia, but football is not a sport that lends itself to two guys carrying a team. Fortunately for Moffatt and Scaccia, they don’t have to.
Batavia is strong and deep at each positional group, with the offensive line perhaps providing the best example.
The Bulldogs lost junior guard Mitch Krusz to a season-ending injury late in the regular season. Piron said at the time Krusz arguably was the Bulldogs’ top-performing o-lineman, so it was a major loss.
Yet Piron still had enough confidence in his line to go for it on fourth down on multiple occasions against Boylan, and that faith was rewarded, with a pair of deep breath-inducing measurements from the chain gang extending Batavia drives.
The Bulldogs also had a rash of key defensive injuries in the middle of the regular season but kept trucking, showing that their second-string players are worthy of starting in their own right.
Cultivating depth in a football program is tricky but essential. It’s about instilling a programwide sense of offseason commitment and shared responsibility in a team’s success, even with no assurances of playing time.
In Batavia, that process begins early, so it’s fitting that the Bulldogs will share their Thanksgiving morning practice space with Batavia Youth Football players, who are invited to compete in “Turkey Bowl” games at the BHS practice fields.
Community imprints are as ingrained in Batavia’s program as are the paw prints on the Bulldogs’ helmets.
That “All In” mindset for Batavia football starts early, runs deep and, Saturday, might just be enough to push the Bulldogs all the way up the mountaintop.
• Jay Schwab is sports editor of the Kane County Chronicle. He can be reached at 630-845-5382 or firstname.lastname@example.org.