Batavia running back Anthony Scaccia's water bug style -- stops and starts, lateral shiftiness, balance and low pad level, speed and more oomph than a 5-foot-7, 155-pound frame would suggest -- humbled plenty of would-be tacklers last fall in the Bulldogs' Class 6A championship football season.
Sunday it was his turn to feel that way after committing to play for quality Division I Football Championship Subdivision program Butler, which in 2013 became the first Pioneer League school to earn a berth in the DI Championship playoffs.
"It's a very humbling experience, I think," Scaccia said. "Having a bunch of colleges contact you and think you can make an impact on this team, it's just humbling."
It was a busy few days for Batavia football recruits. Linebacker Anthony Thielk committed to Minnesota State, receiver Jordan Zwart and defensive linemen James Millette both to Wisconsin-Whitewater.
Scaccia called Whitewater "definitely a top contender" as well. The process included visits to Southern Illinois and final discussions with parents Frank and Susan Scaccia, Batavia coach Dennis Piron and assistant coach Billy Colamatteo before Anthony declared his decision to Butler coach Jeff Voris.
"I think I considered it the best of both worlds, athletics and academics. I'm going to study human movement and health sciences there, because I'll be a physical therapist," said Anthony, currently in an internship program at West Physical Therapy in Geneva.
"Butler's a prestigious school and everyone knows about it," he said.
As a junior Scaccia ran for 1,279 yards and 11 touchdowns, but everyone really knew about him as a senior. He ran the ball 279 times for 1,913 yards and 28 touchdowns -- all Batavia records -- and added 27 receptions for 313 yards and 7 more touchdowns. Batavia's dominance didn't allow opponents many kickoffs, but when they did Scaccia averaged nearly 37 yards a return.
An Illinois High School Football Coaches Association Class 6A All-State selection who shared Daily Herald Tri-Cities All-Area Team captain honors with quarterback teammate Micah Coffey (who's going to play baseball at Minnesota), Scaccia said Butler coach Voris liked his escapability.
"He liked how I make people miss in the open field," said Batavia's No. 28. "He liked how I could not only run the ball but I could catch the ball, too."
Graduating from this year's 9-4 Butler squad along with former Geneva player Sean Grady were the team's top two rushers, back Trae Heeter and quarterback Matt Lancaster. Scaccia will report Aug. 11 and remain humble.
"As far as playing time goes I think I can make an impact as a freshman, but obviously I'm not going to go in there thinking I can start right away," he said.
Out of the rough
On Feb. 25 the Illinois men's golf team edged in-state rival Illinois State at the Tinervin Cup in Placid, Fla., and the first college golf news release of the season pushed the polar vortex closer to a memory.
Clean your plates
Just a reminder that St. Charles North's first "Pennies 4 Pounds Lift-A-Thon" is set for 9 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 1.
Between 60-80 North Stars athletes have collected pledges based on their maximum lifts in bench press, squat and power clean, but flat donations are always accepted. Proceeds go to weight room equipment upgrades.
For info, reach St. Charles North strength guru Rob Pomazak at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Neal's greatest hits
There was a lot of fantastic stuff West Aurora basketball announcer Neal Ormond said for last week's article that didn't see print.
Among it were brief musings on some of the top players, coaches and games he'd seen in his 50 years as a broadcaster of Blackhawks basketball.
Ormond mentioned a former high school teammate and Illinois player, Bill Small, as probably the greatest player he'd seen wearing a West uniform. Ormond said he'd put current guard Jontrell Walker on his short list, the rare four-year starter.
Ormond added all-time rebounds leader John Bryant, out of the Class of 1973, who went on to Marquette.
"And then it becomes very difficult," he said before rattling off the likes of Kenny ("Mr. Intensity") Battle, Dameon Mason and Shaun Pruitt.
"I'm leaving out about 20 (players)," Ormond said. "There have been so many, these were among the most exciting to broadcast."
In Ormond's time behind the microphone he said West Aurora has had 13 head varsity football coaches and nine athletic directors, but only three basketball coaches: Clayt Rabadeaux (who coached with current coach Gordie Kerkman in Iowa), John McDougal and Kerkman.
Others among Ormond's favorites include classy retired coaches Ron Johnson of St. Charles and Kaneland, Don Davidson of Aurora Christian, Bill Chesbrough of Elgin, Dick Van Scyoc of Peoria Manual and the active coach who supplanted Van Scyoc as the all-time victories leader in Illinois, Gene Pingatore of St. Joseph.
When McDougal resigned his post at West Aurora to go to Northern Illinois, Ormond said the candidates for the position included Steve Fisher. Ormond, who helped select the new coach, said Fisher expressed a lifelong goal to coach in college. That helped tip the scales Kerkman's way, and while Kerkman is heading toward 800 high school victories, Fisher went on to win an NCAA title at Michigan.
Finally, Ormond said the "most noteworthy" West Aurora game he's called was not the Blackhawks' 60-57 win over Westinghouse for the 2000 Class AA title.
It was McDougal's finale at West, the 1976 Class AA title game at Champaign's Assembly Hall. West Aurora led with four seconds remaining but lost, 45-44, on a long game-winner by Morgan Park's Laird Smith.
"It was just like somebody had kicked me in the stomach. I could not talk," said Ormond.
Rarely -- and thankfully for his listeners -- he has not often found himself in that position.
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