Kaneland wins big again
STREATOR -- One would be hard pressed to imagine two teams in moving in such disparate directions.
Kaneland entered its Northern Illinois Big XII crossover football game against Streator without having dropped a regular-season game in almost three years.
The Bulldogs, conversely, had not won a game since the final game from their 2009 schedule.
Any hope Streator had of Kaneland appearing overconfident evaporated early as the Knights scored on their first five possessions.
Senior linebacker Ryan Lawrence then made it a six-score cushion when he returned an interception from 35 yards out late in the second quarter.
A running clock was instituted the entire scoreless second half as Kaneland breezed to a 41-0 victory Friday night in Streator.
"We don't ever come in overconfident," Lawrence said after Kaneland captured its 23rd consecutive victory during the regular season. "We treated this game as if it had to be our best game (this year) to beat Streator."
Kaneland (4-0) was virtually in command from the opening kickoff.
Feature back Jesse Balluff caught a 19-yard swing pass on the first play from scrimmage; the junior accounted for 67 of the Knights' 68 yards, capping the seven-play drive with a 10-yard burst.
"We have a lot of weapons back there (in the backfield)," Kaneland coach Tom Fedderly said. "Either receiving the ball or running, (Balluff) is one of our key players."
The rout was on in earnest.
Streator (0-4) was able to move the ball periodically against the Knights in the first half, but inopportune breakdowns -- be they minor penalties, botched snaps or dropped passes -- doomed the Bulldogs.
"Drive-killers is the first thing I discussed with my coaches (after the game)," Streator coach Kirk Melody said.
The Kaneland defense also had a say in the matter.
The Knights had 9 plays tackles for negative yardage in the opening half; the offensive side also left few doubts by scoring the next four times they had the ball.
Balluff doubled the score with another sweep midway through the first quarter, and Drew David, the Knights' second-year starting quarterback, found Zack Martinelli from 22 yards out late in the first quarter for a 21-0 lead.
Dylan Nauert then made quite an impression on his first touch of the game.
The junior took a pitch, cut to the right and then reversed direction against the grain, romping 67 yards in the process on the Knights' opening play of the second quarter.
"I saw an opening and I hit it," Nauert said. "I ran as fast as I can to get to that back pylon."
Kaneland finished with 288 yards rushing on 35 attempts.