Batavia, Cary-Grove face challenging quarterfinal matchups
And then there were two.
After 11 grueling weeks of the regular season and postseason, Batavia and Cary-Grove are the last Daily Herald Fox Valley football teams still standing.
Both teams await monumental tasks on the road during this weekend's state quarterfinals.
Batavia (9-2) visits LaGrange Park to face defending Class 7A state champion Nazareth (11-0) while Cary-Grove (9-2) travels to Crystal Lake for a second meeting with Class 6A power Prairie Ridge (10-1) Saturday afternoon.
Both games kick off at 1 p.m.
Cary-Grove captured the 6A state championship a year ago and looks to avenge last month's 42-7 loss to Prairie Ridge.
While Batavia and Cary-Grove hope to keep their seasons alive at least one more week, now is a good time to put the 2019 campaign into perspective.
St. Charles East 30, Batavia 29 -- Oct. 11.
After Cole Conn's 3-yard touchdown run gave the Saints a 23-7 lead midway through the third quarter, Batavia scored on three straight possessions, capped by quarterback Kyle Oroni's 1-yard quarterback sneak for a touchdown to put the Bulldogs on top 29-23 with 2:37 remaining.
Three plays later, St. Charles East sophomore quarterback Nathan Hayes (14 of 28, 211 yards, 3 TDs) connected with senior receiver Nathan Hull on a 64-yard touchdown pass -- on a third-and-10 play --giving the Saints a 30-29 advantage.
Forcing 4 consecutive incomplete passes on the Bulldogs' final possession, the Saints sealed the DuKane Conference road triumph -- only their second victory over Batavia since the teams joined conference allegiances in 2010.
Best game II
Bartlett 17, South Elgin 14 -- Oct. 18.
Coming into the game averaging 54 points while having given up just one lone touchdown in its first 7 contests, South Elgin saw the tables turned after Bartlett scored touchdowns on each of its first two offensive possessions -- an 11-yard pass from quarterback Michael Priami to Mathew Young and Jordan Taylor's 9-yard run.
Trailing 17-0 at the half, South Elgin finally gathered its footing in the second half, closing the gap to 17-14 on touchdown runs of 21 and 2 yards by sophomore quarterback Ben Karpowicz.
Karpowicz' desperation heave from near midfield fell incomplete as time expired, giving the Hawks possession of the "Rivalry Bell" for the second straight year while handing the Storm its first loss after 7 consecutive victories.
"This is what the kids play for," said Hawks coach Matt Erlenbaugh. "They play for this experience."
The aforementioned South Elgin-Bartlett clash featured a standing-room-only crowd in Bartlett.
Three sections of portable stands were delivered during the week by U-46 workers in order to accommodate the visitors' side which included the South Elgin student section.
Parking was at a premium as the Upstate Eight Conference teams battled for the "Rivalry Bell -- and a share of first place.
Batavia 27, St. Charles North 26 -- Oct. 18.
Trailing 20-7 after 3 quarters, the Bulldogs rallied for 3 fourth-quarter touchdowns during their Week 8 road victory over the North Stars.
Senior tailback Art Taylor's TD run with 1 minute, 2 seconds remaining and Jackson Williams' extra-point kick gave Batavia its first lead of the game, 27-26.
St. Charles North drove to the Bulldogs' 31 in the final minute but 4 straight incomplete passes sealed Batavia's DuKane Conference win.
Best comeback II
St. Charles North 20, Wheaton North 17 -- Sept. 13.
Down 17-7 entering the fourth quarter, St. Charles North scored a pair of touchdowns within a 3-minute, 19-second span to rally past Wheaton North, 20-17, in both teams' DuKane Conference openers.
Fullback Ben Furtney's 3-yard touchdown run cut the deficit to 17-14 with 8:03 remaining before quarterback Kyler Brown tossed a 21-yard TD pass to Ryan Thiesse with 4:44 left to put the North Stars on top for the first time.
Jacobs 14, Huntley 7 --Sept. 6.
After Huntley opened its season with a 56-0 victory over McHenry, Jacobs' defense had plenty to prepare for during its Week 2 Fox Valley Conference matchup.
When the dust settled, the Golden Eagles passed the test, holding the high-flying Red Raiders to 223 yards of total offense and a late touchdown during their 14-7 home triumph.
Senior defensive back Nicholas Agenlian led the way for Jacobs with an interception, a pair of pass breakups and a tackle for loss.
"We haven't had this big of a win in a long time," said Jacobs coach Bill Mitz.
The euphoria was short-lived, unfortunately, as the Golden Eagles lost their last 6 games to finish 3-6.
With its postseason hopes all but gone following a 0-4 start, Elgin finished the regular season on a 5-game winning streak and secured its first state playoff berth in 9 years following a 32-26 Upstate Eight Conference victory over East Aurora on Oct. 25.
All-everything senior Xavier Bonds scored 4 of the Maroons' 5 touchdowns, recorded a pair of interceptions and forced a fumble against the Tomcats.
"It's a great platform for us to get better," said Elgin coach Anthony Mason.
You can reach Craig Brueske at firstname.lastname@example.org