Batavia's line play improving every week
Two preseason questions about the Batavia football team are being answered in the affirmative week by week.
The Bulldogs entered the season with several returning playmakers on offense, at linebacker and in the defensive secondary, but the lines on both sides of the ball were unknown quantities.
The defending DuKane Conference champs had to replace the entire defensive line once junior Matt Weerts switched from end to middle linebacker.
The only returning offensive lineman was 6-foot-4, 240-pound senior tackle Alex Richards. He switched to defensive end to replace Weerts but has been rotating in on offense due to injuries. He also plays fullback occasionally.
Several players have gotten time on the revamped O-line: seniors David Egan (5-11, 185) and Ryan Ingold (6-6, 280) and juniors Jackson Heeringa (6-7, 260), Gabe Millane (5-8, 230), Logan Heinke (6-0, 210), Jackson Ahrens (6-0, 235) and John Smith (6-4, 280).
Since the first half of a season-opening loss to ultra-talented East St. Louis, which last week defeated Class 8A Neuqua Valley 50-48, both lines have played well.
The offense in three games has averaged 365 total yards (222 rushing, 143 passing).
Down linemen Richards, senior Josh Costello (6-4, 210) and juniors Eric Sartain (6-1, 250) and Breydan Ford (6-2, 335) have combined for 20 tackles (6 for a loss). The defense last week limited Lake Park to 106 total yards in a 56-0 victory.
"We continue to take steps forward," Batavia coach Dennis Piron said. "I feel like we've made big progress the first three weeks both speed-wise and understanding assignments."
The Bulldogs hope to take another step when they host Glenbard North Friday at 7:30 p.m. The Panthers lost their first two games to Neuqua Valley and Warren but are coming off a 21-7 victory over previously undefeated St. Charles East.
"Glenbard North is going to challenge us," Piron said. "They play good, hard-nosed football. They run the ball right at you and smack you and make you defend all those gaps."
Another record-setter: Last week it was quarterback Will Tammaru who set a West Aurora record, for passing yards with 3,188.
The senior three-year starter is up to 3,404 after last week's 48-6 win over Joliet Central, and a large part of Tammaru's 216 yards passing in that game came courtesy of senior receiver Logan Mont.
Mont caught 5 passes for 183 yards including touchdown receptions of 79 and 65 yards. With that receiving yardage, Mont set the Blackhawks' single-game mark previously held by Kenny Page with 178 yards receiving against DeKalb in 1984.
Connecting 4 times with junior Derrick Merrell, Tammaru also set West Aurora's career record for pass completions with 196.
Special captain: Aurora Christian is teaming up with Cal's Angels to support one of their own this Friday.
Arnau Martinez, a second-grader at the K-12 school who is battling leukemia, will be the honorary captain for the "Go Gold" football game against Riverside-Brookfield at 7 p.m.
Cal's Angels, a pediatric cancer foundation established in 2007 in memory of Cal Sutter, a 12-year-old who succumbed to the same disease, has brought "hope and support to thousands of kids with cancer and their families," according to the organization's website.
Cal's Angel's supplied the school with gold shirts, which the cheerleaders have been selling for $10 at lunch each day to support the not-for-profit company. The color Gold symbolizes all cancers that occur during childhood. All fans are also encouraged to wear gold.
The night will belong to Martinez. First, he will walk down "The Hill" alongside coach David Beebe in a matching Aurora Christian jersey as they lead the undefeated Eagles to the field.
He will accompany the captains to midfield, be announced as the honorary captain and flip the coin.
Martinez also will be presented with a specially made Wilson Cal's Angels gold football, signed by the team.
The evening will include a halftime prayer and a moment of silence for all families impacted by cancer.
Beebe hopes his players learn a life lesson from the experience.
"It's tough when you are an adolescent in America nowadays to look outside of your world," he said. "We are an extremely blessed culture and have been for a very long time. Sometimes that can be blinding.
"I want them to learn how to care for people. That's the bottom line. I think there's an element of caring that we sometimes miss, a genuine care for people that I really pray and hope that our kids have."