Batavia holds on against St. Charles North
Trey Urwiler was doing everything he could to not break down crying.
Minutes after Batavia battled to a gritty 21-19 victory over St. Charles North on Friday, the Batavia senior wideout's thoughts immediately turned to his teammate, senior quarterback Kyle Oroni.
"Kyle works so hard ... I love this team," Urwiler said, pushing back tears. "We found a way to do it. So proud of this team. Prayers up to Kyle. I hope he's OK."
With 1:23 left in the first half, Oroni was flushed from the pocket and sprinted to the far side of the field. Seconds after throwing an incompletion, Oroni was drilled and suffered what appeared to be a serious left leg injury that forced him to be carried to the trainer's table.
Oroni (8-of-14, 84 passing yards) did not return for the second half, and it is not immediately known if his injury is season-ending.
"All my thoughts are with Kyle Oroni," Batavia coach Dennis Piron said. "He is our inspirational leader. He has been our vocal leader in the offseason. He has, in every facet, looked like an all-state quarterback. He is an amazing young man, who in his spirit and his words -- back [several months ago] not knowing if we're going to play, he kept us going."
"Kyle's vision always was: Guys, if we get to play football in the spring, we get five more months together us and our brothers. Relationships on this team are just phenomenal. These kids truly love one another and are pulling for another."
Before his injury, Oroni ran in an 8-yard TD run in the first quarter, and threw an 8-yard TD pass to Urwiler with 11:04 left in the second quarter to give Batavia (2-0, 2-0) a 14-0 lead.
The North Stars closed within 14-7 on Michael Priami's 42-yard rainbow to Ryan Doherty with 6:06 left in the half.
On Batavia's ensuing possession, a low punt snap to Urwiler forced him to his knee, setting up St. Charles North at the Bulldogs' 12-yard line.
North Stars running back Josh Bridges promptly scampered in for the 5-yard score to tie it at 14-14, and Oroni was injured on the next possession.
After Batavia punted, the North Stars (1-1, 1-1) fumbled on the return, which was recovered by Vincie Solano. Seven plays later, Jalen Buckley pounded in a 1-yard score with eight seconds left in the half to give Batavia the 21-14 lead.
Batavia fumbled the opening second half kickoff, which was recovered by North Stars sophomore Drew Surges. Jack Dummer converted a 26-yard field goal to pull within 21-17 with 10:41 left in the third quarter, where it remained into the final quarter.
Urwiler (15 rushing yards, 19 receiving yards) had taken some snaps at practice in wildcat as part of a contingency since last year's backup Kyle Neibch moved. Urwiler himself suffered a minor leg injury in the second half, but returned the next possession.
"Just trying to make the best of it, really," Urwiler said of taking snaps.
Batavia punted, which eventually led to another field goal opportunity for Dummer from 36 yards out, but it missed wide with 8:10 remaining.
The ensuing possession, the Bulldogs were switching in AJ Sanders and Urwiler in the wildcat, but then put sophomore-level quarterback JP Chaney in for a few snaps. On 3rd-and-18, the snap flew over his head into the end zone, recovered by Surges, for a safety with 6:08 left in the quarter and the North Stars suddenly trailed by two.
Bulldogs linebacker Matt Weerts came up with a sack of Priami on 3rd-and-long with 4:08 left, and the Bulldogs were able to milk the clock down in the final minutes.
"I knew I had to do my job," Weerts said. "Make the play and I did. It was very exciting. It was a tough situation so we got through it."
Priami finished 9-of-19 for 110 yards and a touchdown. Priami was sacked twice, one each for Weerts and Tyler Jansey. Bridges bruised his way for 36 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries.
The North Stars defense held Batavia's deep stable of running backs, Oroni and Urwiler to 144 yards on the ground. Batavia also had 15 combined penalties on offense and defense, contributing to their struggles.
The North Stars have lost to Batavia by single digits the last three seasons, each of the games coming down to the final two minutes.
"The kids played super hard," North Stars coach Rob Pomazak said. "We just didn't execute. You can't play a team like Batavia and have them on the ropes -- which I thought we did. I thought we played extremely physical and I think it was a great high school football game, but we can't turn the ball over in the end zone toward the end of the half."