As Batavia’s football team put together its record-setting 12-1 season last fall, the Bulldogs had the luxury of having a veteran, senior quarterback in Noel Gaspari to rely on.
But as is the nature of high school sports, Gaspari graduated and moved on to North Central College — leaving a leadership void at the all-important quarterback position.
With the season opener at Glenbard North a week away, coach Dennis Piron still hasn’t settled on a starting quarterback. Senior Daniel Albrecht and junior Micah Coffey, brother of former Batavia star quarterback Jordan Coffey, have battled all summer for the starting spot — a battle that figures to continue through the weekend.
“We have to make a decision next week as to who is starting Week 1,” Piron said. “I think it’s been a great competition, which is what we wanted. Daniel raised his game, he was well-prepared. He did some really nice things in our 7-on-7s. And then Micah put some extra time in this offseason. Both boys have looked good, and I’m proud of them both. Right now, it’s one of those weekend, Sunday night coaching decisions that we’re going to make when we look over film, but they’ve both done a great job.”
Usually the team captain on offense is somebody who spends much of the game with the ball in his hands. But the way this season shapes up, senior receiver Zach Strittmatter — the man who will have to rely on whoever wins the quarterback battle to get him the ball — is the one the offense is turning to. Piron says he thinks Strittmatter is “the best receiver in all of Illinois.”
“This year, we don’t have a skill position captain except for me,” Strittmatter said. “It’s usually the quarterback, but now I’ve taken it upon myself to get the guys together in the summer and after practice to throw or just run some sprints.”
Strittmatter has spent many hours with both Albrecht and Coffey and is ready for whichever one is under center in Carol Stream next Friday.
“Both of them are great quarterbacks,” Strittmatter said. “Either way we go will benefit the team. I stay after and throw extra routes with both of them and it takes a little time because they don’t always get extra reps in practice. But we’ve spent that time together. Either way we go will be good for us.”
The advantage that Batavia has is that the Bulldogs have five starters back on each side of the ball and the extra four weeks of playoff games provided everybody in the program with another month of practice. That has allowed everybody from the sophomore team through the stars to come into practice last week on the same page.
For a team that will be breaking in a new starting quarterback, having that sort of experience on both sides of the ball should make the transition easier.
“We’re having a great camp,” Piron said. “I’m excited about it. The kids know what they’re doing. It’s time to start playing. They came into the summer ready. We have a lot of good football players here and believe that we will have a very good high school football team, but like any other year, we won’t really know that until the end of the season.”