Daily Herald: Playoff seed is main plum in Batavia-St. Charles North showdown

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Batavia’s Riley Cooper passes during their game Friday night at Libertyville High School. Steve Lundy/ slundy@dailyherald.com.

Batavia football coach Dennis Piron and St. Charles North coach Rob Pomazak both say Friday’s Upstate Eight River matchup is a beauty, but a bit of the bloom is off the rose.

Coming into the season, the five-time champion Bulldogs and upwardly mobile North Stars each hoped to enter this game undefeated with a chance to win the UEC River title. However, each lost to surging St. Charles East, which turned this into a battle for second place.

“I think it’s definitely important as far as playoff seeding, but as far as overall importance it’s not for a conference championship so it loses a little bit of the weight to it,” Pomazak said. “It’s not as big as it would have been if we were both where we thought we would be at this point of the season.”

Piron said his team enjoys the budding rivalry series, which began in 2010-11, when Batavia joined the Upstate Eight.

“It looks like St. Charles East has the conference locked up with the season they’ve had, which has been phenomenal,” Piron said. “For us, conference games against Geneva, St. Charles North and St. Charles East determine who is the top team in our area. When we came into the Upstate Eight with Geneva, St. Charles East and North were a little down but they’ve both gotten stronger with consistent coaching. All we’re really talking about this week is beating St. Charles North because it’s developed into a rivalry.”

The North Stars have not allowed a touchdown in 17 quarters. The last team to reach the end zone against them was St. Charles East in the third quarter of a Week 4 clash. They limit opponents to 183 total yards per game. Of the 43 points they’ve allowed this season, 28 came in their only loss to the rival Saints.

Leading the way for the North Stars are senior middle linebackers Jack Wolf (7.9 tackles per game) and Chris Cotter (7.1) and senior lineman Trey Kellogg (7.3).

Batavia counters with the area’s biggest offensive line, a unit that has cleared the way for 36.4 points and 387 yards per game. Junior quarterback Riley Cooper has completed 69 of 111 passes for 768 yards and 7 touchdowns with 3 interceptions. He shares quarterbacking duties with mobile senior Ben Weerts, who has rushed for 342 yards and 7 touchdowns in 72 attempts (4.8 avg.).

“We just have to do what we do,” Piron said. “They’re big, but we’re big, too. One thing we definitely have is size, particularly on the lines, especially the offensive line. That will be something different for them because they haven’t had many matchups like that.”

This report was produced in partnership with the Daily Herald. For related coverage, visitdailyherald.com/sports/prep

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