Undefeated Batavia clinches 11th straight playoff berth
Tyler Sapit's visit to Wheaton Warrenville South Friday was a bit more personal than beyond helping clinch another yet postseason appearance for Batavia.
"Last year, my junior year, I had COVID so I missed [last season's 30-7 loss]," said Sapit, Batavia's senior defensive end. "Coming out here and playing was big for me, personally."
Sapit had a sack, junior linebacker Tyler Jansey had a key interception and senior star running back Jalen Buckley ran for three touchdowns in another big performance, as the Bulldogs cruised to a 41-20 victory over the Tigers on Friday in the DuKane Conference.
With the win, Batavia (6-0, 4-0) clinched a postseason appearance for the 10th straight season -- excluding the 2020 shortened regular season that had no playoffs -- under coach Dennis Piron. The program overall postseason streak extends one more season into former coach Mike Gaspari's final year in 2010.
"With the staff that we have and the kids that we have that believe like they do, we've got a really good situation going on here," Piron said of the 10-year streak. "It's not just here, but our lower levels and our eighth and seventh grade kids coming in. I've [seen at a couple of our] games where kids have cameras, they're all in the end zone celebrating. They're paying attention. They're not just down there eating popcorn. They know -- when we stopped that two-point play last week against [Glenbard North to win ice the game] what a big deal that was."
"We're getting better. We were a very novice team [entering the season]," Piron continued. "A lot of guys who never played varsity football [and] barely played freshman football. We've got some lineman who we brought up who were sophomores ... Ryan Boe ... he's the best young quarterback in our area. He's pretty special. Strong, tough and getting better every single week."
Buckley was, again, stellar in a 190-yard performance.
"We know the seniors last year had six games. That was unfortunate and it was their senior night we lost on [to WW South] so we wanted to come out here [and win]," Buckley said. "We had some [former] seniors in attendance and just show them we got their back and we [can] get this done."
Batavia took an initial 7-0 lead after Boe (12-of-15, 204 yards, three TDs) found AJ Sanders for a 27-yard score with 4:48 in the first quarter. Two Bulldogs possessions later, the Tigers (3-3, 2-2) stuffed Buckley on a 4th-and-1 and Tigers quarterback Matt Sommerdyke connected with Brandon Bell for a 42-yard score to tie it with 10:14 in the second quarter.
Boe responded with a 12-play drive the ensuing possession capped off by a 27-yard score to Eric Newberry. After Jansey hit home for a sack their next defensive possession, Boe found Buckley for a 7-yard TD with 32 seconds left in the half on a drive that was aided by consecutive Newberry catches for 59 yards to put his team in the red zone.
Sommerdyke (21-of-38, 315 yards, three touchdowns) was intercepted by Brody Osborne to end the half, Batavia leading 21-7.
Buckley's 18-yard TD run three plays into Batavia's opening drive of the second half extended the margin to three scores.
Later Jansey's 40-yard interception return set up Buckley's 11-yard score to give Batavia a 35-7 lead early in the fourth quarter.
Sommerdyke connected with Reece Young for a 20-yard score, but Buckley answered again with a 17-yard touchdown run. Sommerdyke hit Young for a 71-yard touchdown to make it 41-20 with two minutes left.
"Hats off to [Batavia]. They're a good, physical football team that runs the football well and plays really good defense. We knew that and they played better than us tonight, so they earned that victory," Tigers coach Sean Norris said. "Early on, we thought we made some plays early and did some really nice things. We just couldn't sustain it. We weren't consistent and that's something where we need to [be] across the board: offensively, defensively and special teams. That was our message to our guys."