Batavia football coach Dennis Piron had a little riverboat gambler to him in Saturday’s dominant 38-6 win over Rockford Boylan in their Class 6A playoff game.
Eight times the coach decided to go for it on fourth down and the Bulldogs’ offense converted six times. Piron is no mere ramblin’, gamblin’ man, however.
Plenty of thought went into those situations and there were at least three factors that weighed heavily on the choice: confidence in his offense, confidence in his defense and the difficult conditions with sub-freezing wind chill and a frozen natural grass field.
“Every time it’s fourth down and he has to decide to punt or go for it, half our defense is sitting their yelling at him, ‘Go for it, go for it!’” said senior middle linebacker Anthony Thielk. “That’s because our defense has been playing with such confidence, we just know if we don’t get (the first down), we’re gonna hold them.
“Field position was huge in the first half. We had the interception (returned for a touchdown) and the punt that they muffed. That really got the offense going.”
The Bulldogs started the four drives of the first half at their own 49, Boylan’s 24 and 16 and the Batavia 48.
Remember the Titans? Forget about it.
“They weren’t tough decisions,” Piron said. “With the (offensive) line that we have, and most of them just a yard or half a yard, combined with the cold and the wind making it tough to (long) snap (to punt) and it was tough to plant because the ground was frozen. Your foot goes out and you couldn’t get anything on the ball.
“It was really a tough day to compete.”
And, of course, there’s the confidence in a first-string defense that continues to shut down opponents.
“The way our defense has been playing, they’re getting better and better and better,” Piron said. “I think our defense is as good as anybody in Illinois right now. And our offense is very, very hard to deal with and stop.”
IFCA All-State teams
It was another banner year for football as 12 of the 16 teams in the Beacon-News coverage area made the playoffs and eight players have been named to one of the recently released Illinois Football Coaches Association All-State teams.
The organization honors 18 players in each of eight classes and they will be introduced and recognized this weekend at their respective class’s title game at Northern Illinois University’s Huskie Stadium.
Named from our area were:
Class 3A: RB Legend Smith, Aurora Christian.
Class 4A: RB Julian Rios, Aurora Central; RB/LB Weslye Brown, Plano.
Class 5A: QB Drew David, Kaneland.
Class 6A: DB Michael Moffatt, Batavia; RB Anthony Scaccia, Batavia.
Class 8A: OL Jay Harris, Waubonsie Valley; RB/LB Bryce Holm, Oswego.