Batavia's offense coming alive
Batavia has a reputation for hard-hitting defense but the offense has stolen the show in two playoff victories.
The defending Class 7A state champions have scored 108 points in blowout wins over Granite City and Moline.
Senior quarterback Jack Myers is one reason. In his first two postseason starts, Myers has completed 20 of 29 passing attempts (68.9 percent) for 301 yards and 6 touchdowns with 1 interception.
Seniors Zack Weber, Ethan Neibch and Nick Rempert have been frequent targets. Weber has 7 catches or 82 yards and 3 touchdowns, Rempert has 5 catches for 32 yards and a touchdown and Neibch has contributed 5 catches for 53 yards and a score.
"Like last year in the playoffs, we have really been able to score touchdowns through the air," Batavia coach Dennis Piron said. "Jack has done a nice job. He's understanding more and more about what he wants and what he sees. Neibch is really coming on at slot receiver. Weber is a lot like (Eric) Peterson was for us last year so there are really a lot of good things happening. I think we have an awful lot of things you have to deal with."
Piron lauded the play of two-way standout Quinn Urwiler. In two playoff games, the part-time running back has carried
11 times for 238 rushing yards and 3 touchdowns.
The full-time linebacker registered 20 tackles (3.5 for loss), 1.5 sacks, 2 hurries, forced a fumble and recovered another.
"Our opponents hate going against him," Piron said. "He's a pretty special running back. The last guy I saw play that reminds me a little bit of what he does was (Glenbard West graduate Sam) Brodner, who, obviously, was a full-time running back. He's got a little bit of that to him. I am not saying he is Sam Brodner, but he runs with a power and a sense of patience and then an explosiveness."
Impromptu road trip: The Beebe family didn't have much time to prepare for Chad Beebe's NFL debut with the Minnesota Vikings last Sunday.
They received word on Saturday that Chad, signed by the Vikings as an undrafted free agent out of Northern Illinois, had been activated from the practice squad and would play against Detroit the following day.
Chad Beebe was an all-state receiver at Aurora Christian. He helped the Eagles win the 2012 Class 3A state championship.
Approximately 20 family members drove to Minnesota to see the 24-year-old follow in the NFL footsteps of his father, Don Beebe, by making 3 catches for 21 yards.
Most of the Beebe caravan to the Twin Cities departed Saturday evening after No. 9 Aurora Christian shut out No. 1 Princeville (10-1) in a Class 1A playoff game that afternoon, 41-0. Another 25-30 family members and friends watched back home with Chad's grandparents.
"We all had to get our tickets on the fly and go real fast," said Aurora Christian football coach David Beebe, Chad's uncle. "We went up there after our game and he had his 3 catches. It was just quite a weekend. He's just such a great kid. We're all so happy for him."
Proof positive: The DuKane Conference was projected to be among the state's toughest football leagues from the moment the mix of DuPage Valley and Upstate Eight Conference teams was first announced.
The proof is in. Three of the eight DKC teams have advanced to Class 7A quarterfinals this Saturday.
Batavia (11-0), Wheaton Warrenville South (10-1) and St. Charles North (8-3) are still alive, with the latter two set to square off in a rematch in Wheaton.
Including St. Charles East (5-5), which was eliminated in the first round by top Class 8A seed Lincoln-Way East, DKC teams own a 6-1 playoff record.
"To be honest, there were teams in our league that did not make the playoffs that would have beaten the first two (playoff) teams that we played," said Batavia coach Dennis Piron after the DKC champs throttled their first two playoff opponents by a 108-32 combined score. "Yeah, our league has proved to be very good, but I think we knew it would be. I think we knew there would be a chance that you could miss the playoffs and still have a very good football team."
The pedigree of the playoff opponents DuKane teams have dispatched thus far is testament to the league's depth. Wheaton Warrenville South, the second-place finisher in the new conference, knocked off undefeated NIC-10 champion Hononegah on the road last week.
St. Charles North finished third in the DKC after white-knuckle losses to Batavia in Week 9 and Wheaton Warrenville South in Week 9. The North Stars bounced back by knocking off Big Twelve champion Normal Community (8-2) and previously undefeated Mid-Suburban League East champion Rolling Meadows (10-1).
"I think it's the toughest public-school conference in the state of Illinois, or at least in the argument that it's one of the toughest public-school conferences in the state," St. Charles North coach Rob Pomazak said. "I would argue with anybody who wants to sit down and talk about it because if you look at the quality of the programs, even the schools that didn't make the playoffs are quality programs.
"And now you have quantifiable data of three teams still in the Elite Eight and potentially 50 percent of the Final Four being from one conference. I think it speaks volumes for the difficulty and the quality of football in the DuKane Conference."