Can a Batavia football player still feast when his summer itinerary doesn’t include tackling?
Dennis Piron, coach of the reigning Class 6A state champion Bulldogs and their #letseat offseason training moniker, offers a short answer: Absolutely.
Recent IHSA rules prohibiting tackling and full-pad drills in the five weeks before two-a-day workouts usher in the beginning of the season each August hardly faze Batavia.
“When I read through it, I go, ‘OK, we don’t have to change a thing, guys,’ ” Piron said. “It’s what our program already looks like, so we’re in good shape.”
Piron suspects many coaches across the state are finding the same to be true.
One of his nearest counterparts, Marmion’s Dan Thorpe, can confirm.
“That didn’t impact us at all,” Thorpe said. “I’ve been under the Bill Walsh philosophy for 20-something years of fresh legs and fresh bodies and fresh minds. In June, we were just in T-shirts and shorts. And then July we were helmets and shoulder pads for two weeks. And that was it. We never put kids to the ground.
“And I’ve been ridiculed by parents and players for that philosophy, but we’ve tackled just as good as anybody else. I’ll tell you we have had less injuries than I believe a lot of other schools have had.”
Piron credited Batavia’s sports boosters for helping fund various tackling equipment through the years.
The gear, coupled with defensive coordinator Matt Holm’s technique-heavy drills, put Piron at ease.
“A lot of what you do is Xs and Os and buttoned up and getting in the right position and working on technique and conditioning and things that will matter down the stretch,” Piron said. “But I think you can do everything to get you to the point of a tackle, and really being in position to make a tackle is what makes most of the tackles anyhow. Hustle and pursuit and all those things.”
Reeling in a state berth:St. Charles North swept the top two spots at Saturday’s IHSA Shabbona Lake Bass Fishing Sectional, and will join a boat from Geneva at the state tournament May 9 and 10 at downstate Carlyle Lake.
Matt Fredericksen joined Carter Heflen and Jacob Lewandowski on North’s top boat, which caught 9 pounds, 11 ounces of bass. The North Stars’ second boat – its No. 1 listed entry – consists of Curtis Cecchi, J.R. Igleski, Jacob Scharringhausen and Daniel Barsanti.
That group had a haul of 6 pounds, 15 ounces, five ounces ahead of Geneva’s qualifying duo of Sam Vogelsberg and Marc Horaig.
One driver transports two fishermen, and a school can opt to substitute during the competition.
North has won four of its six sectionals since the inception of IHSA bass fishing in 2009. Dave Fuerst assists head coach Tim Pinks.
“From Day 1, we’ve formed a great friendship and a good coaching rapport,” Fuerst said.
“It’s pretty exciting. I’ve got to pinch myself a little.”
This spring, the sectional and state competitions were moved back one week in a bid to provide warmer weather for anglers.
Fuerst, who was at Lake Shabbona 10 days ago, as well, reported a water temperature climb of about seven degrees, to the 55 to 57 degree range, this past weekend.
“It fishes so differently down south that many of the coaches here put their voices into the process,” Fuerst said.
Back on the bus: Recently removed from a 1,030-mile road trip to Bowling Green, Ky., and Dayton, Ohio, the Midwest League-leading Cougars embarked Monday on a much shorter sojourn.
A four-game trek to Cedar Rapids – covering 430 miles round-trip – figures be more routine after the long Bowling Green-Dayton swing.
“It was our first one of the season, so everybody was trying to get used to it. Getting back in the grind of sitting on a bus for a long period of time, stuff like that,” first baseman Jacob Rogers said. “We played some cards, watched some movies, hung out with the guys.”
The Cougars, 17-6 and winners of six straight entering Monday, will play 16 of their next 25 games at home after returning from Cedar Rapids.
• Kevin Druley is a sportswriter for the Kane County Chronicle. He can be reached at 630-845-5347 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @kevindruley.