Batavia was one of three teams to jump into The Super 25 rankings of the Sun-Times Monday after upsetting preseason No. 9 Glenbard North 42-41 in Friday’s opener.
“I think our kids felt all along it was a game that was a toss-up. We didn’t feel like a lot of other people, that we were the underdogs going in,” said second-year Batavia coach Dennis Piron, who credited his staff’s preparation.
Batavia coaches had video of five Panther games from last year to study, thanks in part to the Bulldogs’ extended playoff run in a 12-1 season.
“I don’t know of many coaches like me who have the benefit of a Hall of Famer like (former head coach and current offensive coordinator) Mike Gaspari who can spend a lot of time studying film. And (defensive coordinator) Matt Holm and his level of detail is phenomenal.”
Piron’s defense had to step up on a hot, steamy night and stop a Panthers’ two-point conversion run by Justin Jackson after North had pulled within a point with a score with about 90 seconds remaining in the game.
“It was a stretch run off left tackle,” Piron said. “The QB sprints back to give it Jackson and they tried to lengthen our defense and give him cutback opportunities. Chris Moran did a nice job of filling in from his safety spot and had the first contact, then we got about five or six more guys flowing to the ball. It was really a nice effort.”
Moran, who finished with a game-high 13 tackles, was soon joined by outside linebacker Cullin Rokos (11 tackles) and offensive tackle Adam Unger, who came in for that one play on defense.
“That’s what it takes to bring a kid like Jackson down,” Piron said. “One guy usually isn’t going to do it.
“Their quarterback had two big runs and Jackson had a giant one but, honestly, we had a tremendous amount of tackles for loss (18), too.”
The Bulldogs are now ranked 22nd in The Super 25.
Worth a shot
Piron wasn’t surprised Glenbard North coach Ryan Wilkens decided to go for two.
“No. 1, conditions were brutal. Temperatures have been so cool leading up to the opener, both teams had a lot of guys dealing with cramping issues,” Piron said. “He probably was thinking, ‘Let’s win this thing now.’ It’s probably what I would have done (if their positions were switched).”
East vs. West
Friday’s 120th matchup in the East-West series marked the first time in the historic series an East High grad (Kurt Becker) was coaching the Tomcats while a West High grad (Nate Eimer) was coaching the Blackhawks.
There was one other matchup, though, where two East grads were pitted against each other. In the 1992 meeting, the Tomcats of East grad and coach Wendell Jeffries posted a 20-6 victory over East grad and West coach Bob Williams.
Good start for Ross
West Aurora’s record-setting 59 points against East included 174 rushing yards and two scores from senior RB Booker Ross.
“I thought Booker was great tonight,” Eimer said. “He’s gotta have the attitude that he’s not gonna go down on (contact from) the first tackler. Tonight it was the first, second and third a few times (before he was brought down).
“Offensively, we have some weapons. The key for us is gonna be being consistent.”
WR/DB Tony Oros was held out of the opener after rolling his ankle last week in practice.
“We’ve gotta get better on defense, though,” Ross said, noting that the Tomcats’ 19 points was the most East has scored in the series since its last win (2000), when it had 26.
Senior wideout Zach Strittmatter pulling down eight Micah Coffey passes for 164 yards and two TDs wasn’t surprising.
“He’s gonna have a lot of 200-yard (reception) games,” Piron said. “But Micah Coffey was phenomenal, especially for him playing in his first game (21-for-32, 301 yards, 4 TDs). And the other kid who surprised me was Anthony Scaccia, a kid we expected to be a scatback who ended up with 251 all-purpose yards. He was a game changer out there with his big plays.”
They included 11 runs for 95 yards, three kickoff returns for 96 and four receptions for 60.
Call him big foot
Metea Valley sophomore kicker Nick Dodson was the difference on the scoreboard for the Mustangs’ in their 24-22 win over Plainfield East. He was 3-for-3 on field goals from 20, 36 and 20 yards and both his extra point kicks were good.
“He was a sophomore making his first varsity start,” said Metea Valley coach Ben Kleinhans.
“He started at receiver and also had a tackle on a kickoff that probably would have gone for a touchdown if he hadn’t made it. He had some huge plays.”