With Batavia last team standing, a look back at the 2017 Fox Valley football season
And then there was one.
Two and a half weeks ago, a total of 11 Fox Valley area football teams qualified for the IHSA state playoffs.
Batavia (11-1) is the last team standing.
That shouldn't come as too much of a shock considering Bulldogs coach Dennis Piron has guided his teams to 7 consecutive state playoff berths and owns an amazing 71-11 record (. 866 winning percentage).
The fourth-seeded Bulldogs will make their third state semifinal appearance at 1 p.m. Saturday against 17th-seeded Benet Academy (9-3) at Benedictine University in Lisle.
In 2011, Batavia lost a 33-22 semifinal decision to eventual Class 6A state champion Prairie Ridge.
Two years later, Batavia edged Lake Forest 19-14 in the 6A semifinals on the way to its first state football title.
This weekend, the Bulldogs will look to advance to their first 7A state championship game.
They'll likely lean heavily on a defense that has allowed just 8.3 points per game and owns a plus-14 turnover differential (27-13).
That number received a huge boost after forcing 8 turnovers, including a pair of 3-interception games from John Golden and Tom Stuttle -- during Saturday's 20-10 quarterfinal victory over Lincoln-Way West.
However, nothing has been easy in the postseason for Batavia, which rallied past Wheaton North 20-17 in overtime a week ago before coming back from a 10-0 deficit against Lincoln-Way West.
Here are some additional highs and lows from the 2017 season:
•St. Charles East had a golden opportunity to knock off the state's top-ranked 8A team, Lincoln-Way East, during its 15-14 second-round loss on Nov. 4.
Despite not going for a 2-point conversion that could have extended the Saints' lead to 3 (at 15-12) and later opting to kick off to sophomore speedster A.J. Henning, whose 50-yard return helped set up Dominic Dzioban's game-winning 25-yard field goal with 23 seconds remaining, the Saints didn't receive much help from the officials, either.
While an apparent late holding call on Lincoln-Way East's left tackle against Saints' defensive end Pat Griffin went unnoticed, officials also missed a false start penalty on the go-ahead field goal.
Game highlights on NBC Sports Chicago clearly showed that Lincoln-Way East's right guard flinched just prior to Dzioban's kick.
"The holding on Griffin was just blatant at the end," said Saints coach Bryce Farquhar. "His jersey was pulled down and they didn't call it. The 10-yard holding penalty might have made it a different situation."
Despite the loss, the group of Saints seniors had plenty to be proud of -- including a 2-year record of 19-4, and back-to-back deep postseason runs.
"It isn't like we just showed up today," Farquhar told media members after the loss to the Griffins. "For everybody to forget about us -- we've been this team for two years. We haven't lost by more than seven points in two years.
"From the time they put up the pairings, our kids marked this game. This is what our kids wanted. They wanted the opportunity to play Lincoln-Way East."
Incidentally, Lincoln-Way East blanked Oswego 31-0 in last weekend's quarterfinal clash.
•Marmion's season came to an end following last Friday night's bone-chilling 42-12 loss to St. Ignatius in the Prep Bowl quarterfinals.
With the Cadets' field left basically unplayable after the team's 45-14 Class 6A second-round loss to Sacred-Heart Griffin on Nov. 4, last weekend's game was held at Mooseheart.
"We're very thankful to the people at Mooseheart," Cadets coach Dan Thorpe said after the contest. "They made it possible for us to be here and we're really appreciative."
Perhaps no one was more appreciative than Marmion senior 2-way standout Zach Urwiler.
"It's a pretty cool story," said Urwiler, whose 47-yard TD reception put the Cadets on the board midway through the third quarter. "I'm actually from Mooseheart. My dad (Gary) is the executive director here so growing up and training here in the offseason -- to end my high school career on this field is pretty awesome."
•The total of 11 Fox Valley area teams making the state playoffs very easily could have reached 15.
Three teams that finished with 5-4 records -- Aurora Central Catholic, Burlington Central and St. Edward -- barely failed to make the 256-team postseason field.
Meanwhile, Geneva (4-5) came within 3 yards of a Class 7A playoff berth following its 28-24 Week 9 loss to West Aurora.
•St. Charles North senior Lucas Segobiano turned in one of the top all-around efforts of the season in the team's 31-13 playoff win over Highland Park on Oct. 28.
In addition to his 3 rushing TDs, Segobiano carried the ball 34 times for 174 yards, caught 5 passes for 68 yards, made an interception on defense, recorded a tackle on special teams and even took a few snaps behind center from the Wildcat formation.
Craig Brueske can be reached at email@example.com