After winning a Class 6A state title last season, all bets were off that this year’s Batavia team would field a team capable of making another run at a championship.
“I knew it would be tough because we lost so many skill players,” Buldogs senior linebacker Jake Hlava said. “But I knew our senior class combined with the juniors had the heart to try to do it again.”
Batavia’s 40-7 win in a Upstate Eight River finale against visiting Streamwood gave the Bulldogs a second consecutive unbeaten season in the conference.
Batavia (8-1, 7-0) handled its closing regular-season home game with the poise of a team that has been there before against Streamwood (3-6, 3-4).
“We executed well. Senior Night is filled with a lot of emotion and sometimes strange things can happen,” Batavia coach Dennis Piron said. “But from the word go we were very efficient on offense and defensively we put pressure on.
“Our defense has really played well in the second half of the year. We’re very excited to see where we’re at [Saturday] night.”
Friday’s win featured a 33-0 halftime lead, three touchdown runs and 151 rushing yards from running back Zach Garrett, a TD run by Noah Frazier, and a 34-yard TD pass from Kyle Niemiec to Canaan Coffey.
Evan Acosta ran in a 12-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter, before Streamwood managed its lone TD on a 7-yard pass from Max Draper to Cody Jayko.
By then, the Batavia defense had kept things out of reach, despite a fine passing attack from Draper and company.
Draper threw for 258 yards on 28-of-51 passing and Jayko shined all night, but Batavia got three interceptions from Eddie Golden, Joe Gross, and Tyler Holl.
“Our secondary played smart because we knew (Draper) was going to get rid of it quick,” Hlava said.
“The seniors helped the younger guys to step up this year. Being a junior and winning a state championship was great, and it’s been great as a senior helping out all these juniors.”
Streamwood coach Mark Orszula would have liked to see his offense execute.
“We found ways to hurt ourselves,” Orszula said. “We put ourselves in situations where it’s third or fourth and long and we’ve struggled to convert.
“We knew (Batavia) was big up front. They’ve got talent up front. They lined up their big boys against our kids and obviously they just spent a little more time in the weight room.”