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Article updated: 9/15/2012 7:43 PM
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Batavia's defense getting better each game out
 

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Batavia's defense getting better each game out
  • Batavia's Michael Gates brings down Streamwood quarterback Mason Polich Friday. The Bulldogs blanked the Sabres and allowed just 4 first downs.

    Purchase Photo | Batavia's Michael Gates brings down Streamwood quarterback Mason Polich Friday. The Bulldogs blanked the Sabres and allowed just 4 first downs. Rick West | Staff Photographer

 

Whatever you want to say about Batavia's senior middle linebacker Micky Watson, you can't accuse him of setting his goals too low.

This was Watson's response to being asked about the Bulldogs' defense in Friday's 33-0 win over Streamwood.

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"We can improve though, we're still improving," Watson said.

Improve on a shutout?

Maybe he wants to see the defense allow a few less yards. Except that Streamwood managed a mere 47.

Or not quite so many first downs, not to let the opponent keep the chains moving? Except the Sabres had a total of four first downs, one on a 15-yard penalty. The busiest Streamwood player Friday was punter Brett Brogan, who kicked the ball away seven times.

So how exactly do you improve on 0 points, 4 first downs and 47 total yards?

"Picks, we haven't scored at all, more turnovers," Watson said. "They had maybe 50 yards, we can put that down to negative 50 yards."

The way Marquise Jenkins and company were racking up sacks for negative yardage perhaps Watson isn't far off on his goal. Batavia did have one interception Friday by junior Forrest Gilbertson.

Coming into the season Batavia had a lot of big shoes to fill up front on the defense. The Bulldogs allowed 41 points in their first game albeit to a very strong Glenbard North team and in a contest that turned into a wide-open affair with big plays by both offenses.

Coach Dennis Piron has seen steady improvement on the defensive side of the ball. In Weeks 2 and 3 Batavia stifled Plainfield East and Geneva for the vast majority of each game, getting burned both times by a few big plays.

The Bulldogs eliminated those big plays against Streamwood who didn't have a rush longer than 7 yards or a pass play more than 20.

"I think we are really improving," Piron said. "Our line that we thought was going to be the biggest struggle all year is stepping up and doing their job, taking on blocks like they are supposed to. We are clicking a lot better than we were against Glenbard North."

Piron rattled off several names of players stepping up.

"Ryan (Minniti), really happy, happy as always with Marquise Jenkins, (James) Millete is coming around, he's healthy now and playing better each week," Piron said. "(Michael) Gates up there up front has done a nice job, (Dean) Simoncelli has done a nice job and Watson is getting more comfortable at the middle linebacker spot. He's a good leader for us.

"(Cullin) Rokos and (Anthony) Thielk at outside linebacker gives us a very formable front seven."

Watson knows as well as anyone when the defensive linemen are doing their jobs it makes his life easier to make plays at middle linebacker.

"Those guys have stepped up," Watson said. "They don't have the size (as last year) but they are a lot faster and they are some of the hardest workers I've seen."

At 4-0 overall and 2-0 in the Upstate Eight Conference River Division, the Bulldogs have extended Piron's regular season record to a perfect 13-0 in his two years as the head coach and 16-1 overall. And if the defense keeps improving to go with Batavia's explosive playmakers on offense, watch that sparkling record only get better.

"I like how our defense has been coming on each week," Piron said. "Very happy with our front and the work our defensive line coach has done. We're starting to put our D-line together, basically graduated all those guys last year. Happy with the way those linebackers are coming together. We were close to having shutouts the last couple weeks and it was nice to have that."

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