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Article posted: 11/30/2013 12:01 AM
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Scouting the Class 6A football championship game
 

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Scouting the Class 6A football championship game
 

Class 6A championship

1 p.m. Saturday, Huskie Stadium, DeKalb

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Batavia (12-1) vs. Richards (12-1)

Scouting Batavia: The Bulldogs are in their 17th postseason, their fourth straight and 10th in 11 seasons with a lifetime playoff record of 16-16. A Class 6A semifinalist in 2011, Batavia reached the 6A state finals in 2006, losing 30-20 to Normal's University High. Batavia went 6-0 in the Upstate Eight Conference's River Division, the unbeaten conference champion a third straight year. The Bulldogs' sole loss came against Richards in Week 2, 31-25 in Batavia.

Scouting Richards: Also known as the Bulldogs, Richards has made 31 trips to the playoffs with a lifetime mark of 60-28. These Bulldogs have reached the postseason five straight seasons and 16 of the last 17. Richards repeated as Class 4A champion in 1988 and 1989 with a 6A runner-up finish in 2001, losing the title game 41-0 to Providence. Going 5-1 in the South Suburban Red, Richards took its sole loss in Week 5 to conference champion Evergreen Park, 35-34.

Road to the championship: The No. 2 seed in the northern bracket of 6A, Batavia beat No. 15 DeKalb 48-6, beat No. 10 Rolling Meadows 48-13, beat No. 6 Lake Forest 19-14 and advanced to the championship with a 38-6 win over No. 1 Rockford Boylan. Richards, one of two No. 1 seeds in the bracket's bottom half, beat No. 8 Yorkville 44-0, beat No. 4 Argo 31-0, edged No. 2 Lincoln-Way North 12-6 and reached the championship 7-6 over East St. Louis, a No. 6 seed.

Coaches: Batavia 1983 graduate and head coach Dennis Piron is 33-3 in three seasons since succeeding Mike Gaspari, a 2011 inductee into the Illinois High School Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame. Piron was a longtime Batavia assistant and the team's defensive coordinator under Gaspari. Richards coach Tony Sheehan also leads his alma mater. The former quarterback coached there under IHSFCA hall of famer Gary Korhonen, whose 315 wins led the state upon his 2007 retirement. In six years Sheehan has a career mark of 48-18.

Starting Offenses:

Batavia Richards

Name Ht. Wt. Yr. Pos. Name Ht. Wt. Yr.

Micah Coffey 6-2 185 Sr. QB Hasan Rogers 5-11 171 Jr.

Anthony Scaccia 5-7 150 Sr. RB Romeo Johnson 5-7 165 Jr.

Kevin Green 6-0 200 Sr. FB/WR Dedrick Shannon 6-0 165 Jr.

Noah Frazier 6-0 200 Jr. TE/WR Spencer Tears 6-3 165 Jr.

Michael Moffatt 6-1 180 Sr. WR Ryan Willett 5-9 161 Jr.

Jordan Zwart 6-3 185 Sr. WR Tacari Carpenter 6-0 171 Sr.

Max Heidgen 6-3 250 Sr. LT Paul Muhne 6-1 225 Sr.

Connor McKeehan 5-11 225 Sr. LG Josh Hettiger 6-0 210 Jr.

Patrick Gamble 5-10 245 Jr. C Mike Lonigro 6-2 235 Sr.

Zach Tate 6-2 240 Jr. RG Jihad Faray 5-10 265 Sr.

Jack Breshears 6-4 250 Jr. RT Santiago Calderon 5-11 230 Sr.

Howie Morgano 5-8 135 Jr. K Shawn Chiaramonte 5-10 171 Sr.

Starting Defenses:

Batavia Richards

Name Ht. Wt. Yr. Pos. Name Ht. Wt. Yr.

Noah Frazier 6-0 200 Jr. DE Kenny Spey 5-11 205 Jr.

James Millette 6-5 220 Sr. DT Nurudeen Kamorudeen5-7 215 Sr.

Ryan Minniti 5-11 230 Sr. DT/DE Savon Robinson 6-1 220 Sr.

Josh Leonhard 6-1 198 Jr. DE/LB Ramonta Hill 5-10 205 Jr.

Jake Hlava 6-2 205 Jr. LB Andrew Venerable 6-0 215 Sr.

Anthony Thielk 6-3 220 Sr. MLB Romel Hill 6-0 210 Sr.

Donovan Kilker 6-0 195 Sr. LB/S Nick DeMarco 5-7 150 Jr.

Nick Bernabei 6-1 185 Jr. S Roque Castro 5-7 150 Jr.

Forrest Gilbertson 5-10 160 Sr. S Dylan Jiles 6-0 198 Sr.

Michael Moffatt 6-1 180 Sr. CB Lucas Wright 6-0 160 Sr.

Roarke Mullins 5-9 165 Sr. CB Crishawn Ross 5-8 165 Sr.

Tucker Knox 6-6 185 Sr. P Shawn Chiaramonte 5-10 171 Sr.

When Batavia has the ball: Offensive coordinator Gaspari has concocted a diverse spread scheme that led all 6A qualifiers in scoring average (45.1 points) and margin of victory (28.8). The Bulldogs have scored a program-record 561 points, 375 more than their foes. A fairly balanced attack behind an athletic offensive line (despite a season-ending injury to guard Mitch Krusz), Batavia has 2,942 yards rushing, 2,373 yards passing. All-state tailback Scaccia comes off a season-high 41 carries against Boylan to run for program records of 1,725 yards and 25 touchdowns. Fullbacks Kevin Green (291 yards rushing) and Anthony Moneghini provide blocking, and in goal-line situations watch tight end Frazier lead blocking. Scaccia slips out of the backfield for 23 catches for 281 yards and 7 touchdown catches, tying for team honors with receiver Moffatt. Quarterback Coffey has completed 63 percent of his 241 passes for 2,237 yards, 27 touchdowns and 9 interceptions. Batavia has four receivers with at least 17 receptions: Mullins, Scaccia, long threat Zwart (35 catches, 670 yards, 5 TDs) and Moffatt (42 catches, 600 yards). Piron noted the Bulldogs may work patiently because Richards' constantly blitzing 3-3 stack defense is a fast, explosive unit that can score off turnovers -- such as Jiles' 90-yard fumble return in Week 2. Hill, with seven Division 1 offers, has made 163 tackles, 18 for loss with 8 caused fumbles for a team that holds foes to 196.3 yards per game. Fellow linebackers Venerable (105) tackles and Romanta Hill (88 tackles) pursue well. Robinson enters with 90 tackles, 24 for loss with 8 sacks, 8 caused fumbles and 2 blocked punts, one a game-changer against East St. Louis. Jiles has returned 2 interceptions for touchdown. "Their big-play potential is terrifying," Piron said.

When Richards has the ball: Another spread offense, which averages 32.5 points, this revolves around all-state quarterback Hasan Muhammad Rogars, who has accounted for 38 touchdowns, 28 through the air and 10 on the ground. He'll sometimes scramble but Sheehan prefers he either throw (15 of 27 for 257 yards against Batavia) or have Johnson run for his team-high 509 yards plus 9 touchdowns. Romanta Hill adds 375 yards rushing, 3 TDs. Richards has four receivers with at least 24 receptions headed by 4.5 sprinter Carpenter (nine DI offers) with 47 catches, 862 yards, 14 TDs, 2 on Batavia. Tears (33 catches, 479 yards, 4 TDs, 5 2-point conversions), Willett (26 catches, 419 yards, 5 TDs) and Shannon (24 catches, 448 yards, 4 TDs) follow. If Batavia's offense is one of finesse, its deep 4-3 defense brings the pain. Averaging 241 yards against and 14.3 points, Batavia has made 126 tackles for loss including 56.5 sacks. Key juniors such as Hlava, Bernabei and the defensive end tandem of Frazier and Leonhard (a program-record 12 sacks) have filled in admirably around senior stalwarts like Thielk (team-high 99 tackles), Gilbertson and interior linemen Millette and Minniti. Piron said a key to the pass defense was shifting Mullins to cornerback; the opposite corner, Moffatt, is an all-state selection, a shutdown corner with 4 interceptions and 17 passes defended. Piron said the keys are avoiding big plays and keeping Rogers from extending plays. Sheehan said: "We need to play better offense this week, otherwise it can get ugly."

Intangibles: Batavia, which hasn't had a starting running back fumble since the Richards game, owns a plus-9 turnover ratio to Richards' plus-10. Place-kickers may not be a big factor, both Morgano and Chiaramonte without a field goal -- but Morgano is 45 of 58 on point-after conversions while Chiaramonte is 14-25. Batavia's Knox has developed into a solid punter, averaging 37 yards. Piron maintains that revenge over Batavia's Week 2 loss is not a huge deal, noting Richards' players and staff acted with class after the game. Piron did call the rematch "poetic," however. He said: "This was meant to be."

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