Last season, as Batavia’s football team rolled to a second consecutive unbeaten regular season, senior receiver Zach Strittmatter emerged as one of the state’s elite receivers for first-year quarterback Micah Coffey.
Strittmatter has moved on to Washington University in St. Louis, leaving a huge void as Coffey and the Bulldogs get ready for Glenbard North on Friday night.
“Zach did take a lot of attention,” Batavia coach Dennis Piron said. “I think we’re like how we were two years ago, where we have four or five guys we can throw the ball to in any situation. (Running backs Anthony Scaccia and Anthony Thielk) are such great receivers out of the backfield. I’m happy with our receiving group.”
That group, which includes Michael Moffatt, Rourke Mullins, Jordan Zwart and tight end Noah Frazier, evokes memories of the receivers All-State quarterback Noel Gaspari utilized to drive the Bulldogs to the state semifinals in 2011.
“Last year, we had the superstar,” Coffey said. “This year, I feel like we’ll have a more balanced attack. It will be really good for us to be able to spread the ball around a little bit more, although you can never replace a guy like Zach.”
The quarterback is the key to making it all work. Coffey, a three-sport star, has emerged as one of the best QBs in the area.
“We don’t have to do much,” Mullins said. “We just have to get open and he’ll get us the ball. I’m very confident in Micah. We trust him.”
The load won’t be completely on the shoulders of the passing game. Batavia figures to have one of the most balanced attacks in the area.
Scaccia accounted for 1,946 all-purpose yards, including 1,279 on the ground. Thielk’s impact cannot be felt in just numbers alone. He is able to play five different positions on offense, and that’s not including his time working as a wildcat quarterback this summer.
Oh, he’s also the starting middle linebacker on defense.
“Thielk has looked fantastic,” Piron said. “We moved him to defense and he has just looked fantastic. He has the ability to run anything we need him to do — just a bright, bright football player. He’s done everything we’ve asked.”
The Bulldogs have more players back than just the returning starters. Four seniors who missed either most or all of last season because of injury are back: Zwart, a 6-3 receiver, fullback Kevin Green, outside linebacker Donovan Kilker and safety Brandon Dean.
“They’re like redshirt seniors,” Piron said. “We’re getting a chance to use them and nobody really knows about them.”
The trick for the Bulldogs is to maintain the success of the past two seasons while ensuring that last year’s first-round playoff loss doesn’t repeat itself.
“We have the potential to do the things we’ve done the past couple of years. Potential is that scary word,” Piron said. “I’m very pleased with where we’re at as a team.”