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The benefits of having a third-year starter at running back run deeper than just his production on the field.
Jesse Balluff is certainly providing plenty of that in Kaneland's 2-0 start. Balluff ran for 185 yards and 3 touchdowns in the Knights' 45-14 win over Immaculate Conception Friday.
Balluff said he's enjoying the transition from the youngest player on the team starting as a sophomore to this year's role as a senior leader.
"It's more pressure but welcome pressure," Balluff said. "I love leading these kids. They are great kids."
Injury update: Knights coach Tom Fedderly said he hopes Gary Koehring returns soon.
Koehring, the Knights' senior linebacker, missed Friday's win. Luckily for Kaneland, Fedderly had experienced players like Sam Bower and Tyler Slamans to fill in along with linebackers Tyler Carlson and Cole Carlson.
"You can't replace Gary (knee) but Bower is a starter and he played that as a sophomore so he knows that position," Fedderly said. "And then we had Slamans come in and he's played that spot before so we're really lucky to have that depth and guys with experience to come in and take that spot. But hopefully we have Gary next week."
Tight end target: He may not make Batavia fans forget about Cole Gardner any time soon, but Noah Frazier showed against Richards that he can be an offensive option in the Bulldogs' vast arsenal by getting down the middle of the field from the tight end spot.
The 6-foot, 200-pound junior was a target for quarterback Micah Coffey three times for 44 tough yards against a strong Richards defense.
"We're glad to be getting him some catches now, and he's improving quite a bit," Batavia coach Dennis Piron said.
Frazier found himself wide open a couple of times by holding his block on the line while Coffey rolled to his right, then releasing to the spots vacated by pursuing linebackers as Coffey threw accurately across his body on the run.
Mental toughness: Batavia quarterback Micah Coffey spent a couple of minutes at midfield talking to victorious Richards quarterback Hasan Muhammad-Rogers after Richards' 31-26 victory Friday night that snapped the Bulldogs' 20-game regular season winning streak. The two embraced and headed off to their respective team huddles.
At the Richards huddle, Muhammad-Rogers told sports writers what he told Coffey. "I told him you have to be really mentally tough to go up against our defense, and I thought he did really well."
At the Batavia huddle, Coffey rallied his teammates by assuring them that the early season loss would only make them stronger. "Our goal hasn't changed," he said. "It is to get to state and win it."