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Daily Herald: St. Charles East looking for an Upstate upset

Resurgent St. Charles East will try to do Friday what no football team in the Upstate Eight River has accomplished in more than five years: knock Batavia out of first place.

Fresh off last week’s 28-21 win at No. 7 St. Charles North, St. Charles East (4-0, 2-0) welcomes Batavia (4-0, 2-0) in the division’s key game. The Bulldogs are ranked third in the Associated Press Class 7A poll.

The Saints will follow the same formula against the Bulldogs that worked so well against the North Stars. They intend to use their overall team speed to negate skill-position players and limit the opponent’s possessions by devouring clock via the triple-option offense.

The formula has been working. The Saints are unbeaten through 4 games for the first time since the 1998 quarterfinal team started 11-0.

“From the beginning of the season, we really felt that St. Charles East had a chance to be one of the top teams in our area,” Batavia coach Dennis Piron said. “They had a lot of players back from last year’s team and they got better and better as the year went on. I believe it will be a really tough game. We could play well and still might have trouble because they are a good team.”

The Saints have to clear the mental hurdle of defeating a program that hasn’t lost within the River Division since the Class of 2017 was in sixth grade. Batavia has won 34 straight UEC River games dating back to 2010.

“I don’t think this group will be mentally freaked out by Batavia,” St. Charles East coach Bryce Farquhar said. “This group is different. Their mentality has been different from the start. When we went down 14-0 in the first six minutes against (St. Charles) North, they didn’t panic. They just responded. These seniors beat Batavia as sophomores so they are confident they have the ability to do it. It’s just a matter of going out and getting it done.”

Batavia’s offense is keyed by one of the largest offensive lines in program history, a group responsible for a 6-yard per carry average. Junior running back Reggie Phillips has rushed for 299 yards and 3 touchdowns in 58 attempts. Senior Dana Anderson has 24 carries for 172 yards and 5 scores.

Piron rotates two quarterbacks: 6-foot-2 senior Ben Weerts and 5-11 junior Riley Cooper. Weerts has completed 9 of 18 passes for 192 yards and 3 touchdowns. Cooper is 36 of 51 for 411 yards and 6 touchdowns. Neither has thrown an interception. In fact, the Batavia offense has not turned the ball over this season.

Six St. Charles East defenders have intercepted passes, led by junior safety Clayton Isbell (2). The Saints own a plus-9 turnover differential.

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