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Moments after Batavia dominated its third consecutive opponent with a 48-7 victory over West Chicago on Friday, Bulldogs coach Dennis Piron declined to answer questions about a potential run to DeKalb and the Class 7A state title game.
His reluctance is understandable. After earning the No. 1 Class 7A seed with a 9-0 record, Batavia was bounced from the 2012 playoffs in a first-round upset loss to 5-4 Downers Grove North.
But after watching Batavia play a nearly flawless four quarters on the Bulldogs' homecoming weekend, West Chicago coach Bill Bicker gladly addressed the question.
"I think they can (go downstate)," Bicker said after the Bulldogs improved to 4-1 overall and outscored Geneva, Streamwood and West Chicago by a combined score of 153-41. "They're a physical football team. They have great speed, they play together, they believe in each other, they communicate with each other on the field, and they have bought into their system. When you have a talented team like that and they buy into the system, you can go a long, long way."
One of the keys to Batavia's postseason success will be its defense. While its offense has shined all season, the defense had allowed 31, 26 and 20 points in three of its first four games. Piron challenged the unit during the week, and the defense responded by limiting West Chicago to 49 passing yards and 55 yards on the ground.
"We needed to prove ourselves this week because the offense has been scoring each week and we've struggled some," said senior cornerback Michael Moffatt, who made the first two interceptions of his varsity career Friday. "Coach challenged us this week to play like a playoff defense, and everybody stepped up tonight."
Batavia's explosive offensive attack did its part as usual. The Bulldogs scored 21 first-quarter points, striking 48 seconds into the game when tailback Anthony Scaccia burst 49 yards for a touchdown. A week after throwing five touchdown passes against Streamwood, quarterback Micah Coffey used his legs to score on a seven-yard run for a 14-0 lead, and Mitchell Krusz bulled in from five yards out three minutes later.
The Bulldogs tacked on a one-yard run by fullback Anthony Moneghini and a 36-yard pass from Coffey to wide receiver Jordan Zwart to lead 35-0 at halftime. After an 82-yard scamper from junior running back Blake Crowder made it 41-0, West Chicago broke onto the scoreboard with a 21-yard pass by quarterback Jordan Lelito as time expired in the third quarter.
While the loss kept West Chicago (0-5) winless, Bicker made it a point during his postgame team huddle to laud his players for their perseverance and commitment in the face of adversity. West Chicago hasn't won a playoff game in over three decades.
"My guys are the guttiest kids I know," Bicker said. "Not to take anything away from Batavia, but they have 81 players on their varsity roster. We have 82 kids in our whole program, from the freshman team to varsity. My kids play hard all the time. They show up every day ready to work. They're a great group of kids. I told them that losing a football game doesn't change that. We play these games to make lasting memories. Fifteen years from now, they won't remember the scores of games like this. They'll remember their teammates, the fun they had together, the opportunity to play a great sport and the life lessons they learned from football."
The Wildcats will seek their first victory of the season Oct. 4 when they host Bartlett, while Batavia visits Upstate Eight River Division rival Larkin.