Balanced attack big key to Batavia's success
Batavia is the top-seeded team in the Class 7A football state playoffs and for good reason.
The numbers don't lie.
The Bulldogs are a grave concern for opposing defenses, running for 1,680 yards in the regular season, while passing for 1,326 more -- a balance most coaches would take a pair of pliers and self-extract an eye tooth for.
Standout running back Jalen Buckley sits at 1,152 yards on 172 carries, plus he has caught 16 passes for 230 more yards. Buckley has 19 total touchdowns. He ran for 119 yards in the Week 9 double-overtime win against St. Charles North, while Ryan Whitwell had 136 yards rushing and quarterback Ryan Boe ran in two scores. Batavia piled up right around 400 yards of total offense against a team that was desperate to get into the playoffs and took the Bulldogs to the wire.
Defensively, Batavia has registered 32 quarterback sacks with Brody Osborne leading the way with six. The team had 11 tackles for loss and 3 sacks in the St. Charles North win with Drew Bartels leading the way with 8 tackles, 4 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks.
When talking about tackles for loss, Batavia has 90 of them this year, or an average of 10 per game.
Batavia hosts No. 32 seed Lake Zurich Friday.
South Elgin update:
The Storm is 9-0 and has some eye-opening statistics to back that record up.
After last week's 70-0 win over West Chicago, South Elgin has outscored its opponents 430-29 this season. The Storm is averaging 403 yards of total offense per game and holds a 7.9-2.7 yards-per-play advantage. South Elgin has scored 60 touchdowns and given up only four in 9 games.
Storm coach Dragan Teonic noted of those 4 touchdowns given up, three were surrendered by the defense, and of those three, two were on the first-string defense.
Teonic also tracks a statistic called toxic ratio, which is the number of explosive plays in a game minus turnovers. Against West Chicago, the Storm had 18 explosives and 2 turnovers. For the season, South Elgin has 99 explosives and 12 turnovers, while limiting its opponents to 26 explosives and feasting on 27 turnovers.
"Our explosives to turnovers ratio is higher than it has ever been," Teonic said.
Omari Larson holds the school record for quarterback sacks this year with eight and the Storm set a new team single-season benchmark with 26. Axel Bernal leads the team in tackles, while Jordan Jones is tied for the team lead in interceptions (3) and is among the team leaders in TDs (10), plus Teonic said he's "our leader in the locker room."
South Elgin, the No. 2 seed in Class 8A, hosts Edwardsville, which has a 280-plus-mile trek to South Elgin ahead of it Friday afternoon for the 6 p.m. kickoff.
First-year Larkin coach Grant Dietz is thrilled with his team's development this year.
The Royals are 5-4 and headed to the playoffs for the first time in 15 years. Larkin hits the road Friday as the No. 29 seed in Class 7A to face No. 4 seed Wheaton North (8-1), whose only loss was to Batavia.
Dietz called to attention the team's Week 8 win against town rival Elgin in the annual Town Jug game as a key example of the progress.
"What I am most proud of about my team is the way things have come together for us, which was reflected in the way we won against Elgin," he said. "Speaks volumes about a program that is becoming relevant again. This team, this year is different. It was a team win against Elgin. This is a team showing the resiliency and overcoming adversity when it would have been easy to roll over. They are sticking together, picking each other up, being teammates. I am proud of the seniors, who each week get to keep playing for something more than pride."
Marmion ended the regular season with a splash, putting up 54 points on Chicago De La Salle and in the process guaranteeing a playoff spot with a 6-3 record.
Quarterback Danny Chung threw for 281 yards and 4 touchdowns. His favorite targets were Dane Pardridge (2 catches, 148 yards, 2 touchdowns) and Josh Lim (3 catches, 94 yards, 2 touchdowns). Chung connected with Pardridge on an 87-yard touchdown and a 61-yard touchdown. Lim caught a 50-yard scoring strike from Chung.
Anthony Kuceba had 2 interceptions for the Cadets, who play Chicago Noble-Comer at Gately Stadium in Chicago Saturday at noon in the first round of the Class 5A playoffs.
The Knights are in the playoffs at 5-4 after a 55-13 win over LaSalle-Peru in Week 9.
Kaneland has scored 107 points in its last two games. The Knights head to Triton College Friday to face Fenwick in the first round.
"I am very proud of our team's resiliency," Kaneland coach Pat Ryan said. "We have had some tough losses this year, but we have fought and played all the way through those games. This team has a lot of fight. When we are healthy, our offense is scary good. We have the ability to score so fast and often. I am pleased with the improvements the players who came into the season young and inexperienced have made. They have made a lot of growth as the season has progressed and we get a lot of them back next year."
West Aurora quarterback Gino Martino finished the season with 1,503 passing yards and 10 touchdowns after a 161-yard, 2-touchdown performance in the team's season-ending loss to Minooka.
Martino's favorite receiver this year was Andrew Kolich, who had 48 catches for 598 yards and 5 touchdown receptions.
Defensively, Matt Tarr had another double-digit tackle performance with 11 to close the season.
"This is one of my favorite teams I have ever coached," Blackhawks coach Nate Eimer said. "Everyone wants to judge you by your record, and that isn't the whole story. We have played our toughest schedule since I have been here and we have lost a lot of close games. These kids have never quit."
West Aurora finished 3-6, but lost two games by a single point and another by 6 points.
Streamwood coach Keith McMaster pointed out the Sabres racked up 275 points this season (30.6 per game), which is the most in Streamwood history based on records on the IHSA website.
Individually, Mike Estrada reached the 1,500-yard rushing milestone and Isaac Martinez was in the 1,000-yard conversation.
"Isaac probably would have been over 1,000 had it not been for COVID," McMaster said.
McMaster also shared some interesting 2-point conversion statistics. Estrada scored 15 touchdowns and also had 14 two-point conversions for a total of 118 points scored, while Martinez had 11 touchdowns and 9 two-point conversions for 84 points.
"It's been a battle," McMaster said. "In almost every game this season, the team has been outnumbered and outgunned and faced unbelievable adversity. The kids have fought through heartbreaking losses -- three of them -- four quarterbacks, devastating injuries and COVID protocols. Yet, they kept fighting. That fighting spirit, I hope, takes them to great heights in the rest of their lives."
Green Wave wrap:
A 27-22 win over Elmwood Park pulled St. Edward into the finish line at 4-5 this season (one of those losses was a COVID forfeit and two others were by 12 and 10 points).
"I'm really proud of the way our kids play football," St. Edward coach Mike Rolando said. "The attitude and effort they take the field with is unmatched, and it has become expected at St. Ed's year after year. People who watch these guys play see they give everything they have for each other week in and week out. They play the game the right way. Even in the face of multiple unsportsmanlike penalties and personal fouls from our opponents, our boys keep their cool and play hard within the rules."