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Coming up big

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Photo: Linebacker Cole Carlson contributed an interception during Saturday’s game against Brooks Prep of Chicago. Photo by Patti Wilk

Defense makes tide-changing plays in 27-7 win over Brooks
KANELAND—Kaneland football’s defense on Saturday night picked up the pieces.

It also picked up the team, as well as any loose balls and errant passes.

The Knights’ D managed two third-quarter safeties to add to the point total in a 27-7 opening weekend victory over the Brooks Prep Eagles from Chicago.

It marked the third straight win over the Eagles since the series began in 2011, and marked a stark contrast from the 25-24 comeback win at Gately Stadium on Aug. 25, 2012 that was possible only with a fourth-quarter surge.

The 1-0 Knights won their 29th consecutive regular season contest, dating back to week nine of the 2009 campaign against Yorkville. The trumping of Brooks was delayed 24 hours after torrential rain and plentiful lightning wiped high school football action out throughout the area on Friday.

It marked the first postponement of a Kaneland football game since the opening weekend of the 2007 season, when heavy storms on a Thursday prompted moving the Kaneland win over Burlington Central to a Saturday kickoff.

The offensive output by Kaneland was largely confined to the first half and a 23-7 lead, but five turnovers bruised additional scoring chances, making the defensive play from personnel like Sam Bower, Grant Wooten (interception) and Tyler Carlson all the more important.

Tyler Slamans (above) eludes three Brooks defenders during Kaneland’s 27-7 victory Saturday. Slamans had three receptions for 71 yards.  Photo by Patti Wilk
Tyler Slamans (above) eludes three Brooks defenders during Kaneland’s 27-7 victory Saturday. Slamans had three receptions for 71 yards. Photo by Patti Wilk
“It was nice, we knew we got embarrassed last year,” Carlson said. “We came out and did our job on the defensive end and it was a good game. Our defensive line just got pressure for the safeties, and it was really good work by them.”

For Kaneland, quarterback Drew David went 15-of-29 for 232 yards and three interceptions. Jesse Balluff went 84 yards on 18 carries, while David was close behind with 81 yards rushing. Tight end Tyler Slamans paced the receiving corps with 71 yards on three catches, while John Pruett and Brandon Bishop each had 44 yards receiving.

The night began with a Dylan Nauert kickoff return to the Brooks’ 24-yard line, where runs by Drew David and Jesse Balluff got the drive going. After two incomplete passes, kicker Matt Rodriguez booted a 24-yard field goal for a 3-0 lead one minute, 42 seconds into battle.

After a Brooks punt was downed at the Eagles’ 12, Balluff broke one tackle on the next play and scampered into the end zone for a 9-0 lead with 8:54 to go in the first.

Another Brooks punt led to a six-play, 77-yard scoring drive for Kaneland, ending with a five-yard touchdown run up the middle for Balluff with 5:05 to go in the first for a 16-0 lead. The drive was keyed by a 34-yard completion to Slamans.

The lone scoring drive for Kaneland in the second quarter was made of the ball-control variety, with the seventh and last run of the drive a one-yard run by fullback Nate Dyer with 3:33 to go for a 23-0 lead.

Brooks found the scoreboard on a 21-yard scoring pass from Tyree Dantzler to Dakota Starks with 36 seconds remaining in the half, closing the deficit to 23-7.

The Kaneland offense saw drives fizzle out with a missed field goal, three interceptions and a lost fumble. The second-half scoring came as a result of two third-quarter safeties, causing the ever-rare four-point third quarter.

“We’re really happy with our defensive line,” KHS coach Tom Fedderly said. “Sophomores had a big game, Bower had a huge game and Ty Carlson, in his first game as linebacker, I thought he did a terrific job.”

With 10:40 to go in the third quarter, a team sack of Dantzler in the end zone made it 25-7, while the next drive ended with a punt block by Bower out of the end zone for a 27-7 lead with 7:24 to go in the third and capping the scoring.

Photo Gallery: 2013 Knights Under the Lights

in Boys Cross Country/Boys Soccer/Football/Girls Cross Country/Golf/Kaneland/Tennis/Volleyball by
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Photos from Thursday, Aug. 22.

2013 Football Preview: The road black

in Football by
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Photo: Senior quarterback Drew David, here taking the field at last Thursday’s Knights Under the Lights scrimmage, will lead the Knights in 2013. The Knights are looking to move past an early second-round playoff exit in 2012. Photo by Patti Wilk

Talented upperclassmen look to remedy second-round exit of 2012 season
Kaneland—Get ready Kaneland football fans, and prepare to retreat Kaneland football opponents.

Nothing may be more dangerous to opponents than a team that has won 28 regular season games in a row and a class that has won 34 of 47, and wants to remedy a second-round Class 5A elimination at the hands of Lincoln-Way West.

“The kids still feel embarrassed how it ended last year,” seventh-year coach Tom Fedderly said. “We’ve looked at the film of our scrimmage and we want to take a big step improving. We’ll look for faster improvement for this week.”

“We’ve looked at the film of our scrimmage and we want to take a big step improving.  We’ll look for faster  improvement for  this week.” KHS football coach  Tom Fedderly
“We’ve looked at the film of our scrimmage and we want to take a big step improving.
We’ll look for faster
improvement for
this week.”
KHS football coach
Tom Fedderly
Leading the way at quarterback is Drew David, a senior who’s guided the team to the postseason two straight years. David suffered a hand injury in a victory over Yorkville in last year’s regular season, even missing the win over Sycamore. A pin was put in his hand, and Fedderly has a healthy quarterback again.

“We at Kaneland have been lucky as anyone for the quarterbacks we’ve had, no doubt,” Fedderly said.

Fellow senior Jesse Balluff once again sees time at the running back position.

“It’s nice to have him and have that balance in a spread offense. You have to prepare for him, and he’s a running threat,” Fedderly said.

Also in the backfield is bruiser and goal-line option Nate Dyer, who may also see some time on the other side of the ball at nose tackle.

The all-important wideouts in the Kaneland offensive package see some departures, but also see returnees like Dylan Nauert and Brandon Bishop.

Adding to the offense at wideout are John Pruett and Connor Fedderly. Tyler Slamans returns after an ACL injury to serve at tight end.

The offensive line features Alex Snyder, who has amassed the most varsity wins for any player in Kaneland football history, having joined the ranks as a freshman.

He’s joined by Joe Komel, in pursuit by college football programs, Shane Jorgensen, and Justin Diddell, with Tom Van Bogaert projected at center.

“We have a lot of big guys there, and average about 260 pounds,” Fedderly said.

On the ball-snatching side of the field, the linebacking corps features Gary Koehring, who had no shortage of key plays and stops in 2012. Sam Bower, Slamans and Dan Hammermeister. The Knights’ crew also has Tyler Carlson and Cole Carlson for linebacking duties, as well.

Kaneland also gets a boost from secondary play. JR Vest returns, and will be joined by Knights like Grant Wooten and Isaac Swithers.

“Isaac is a tough kid; the secondary has to know what the offense is trying to do,” Fedderly said.

Matt Rodriguez returns as the kicking specialist.

“It’s so important to have a kicker who can put it 80 yards downfield for field position,” Fedderly said.

Kaneland’s reputation precedes itself in NIB-12 history, as the only conference champ the group has ever known, but the East division houses threatening teams beginning with Class 5A runner-up Morris.

“Morris is always good, and that’s a really big game down there; Sycamore has a good senior class, and that’ll be interesting to watch against Lincoln-Way West in week one, Rochelle is always tough, we know DeKalb’s coach from having faced Belvidere in the playoffs the last two years, and Yorkville has eight sophomores that saw time last year,” Fedderly said.

KHS hosts Brooks Prep of Chicago on Friday, Aug. 30, and tries to add to the two-game win streak against the Eagles. KHS needed a fourth-quarter comeback for a one-point win in 2012.

Knights football drills home summer with 7-on-7’s

in Football by

KANELAND—There’s no rest for KHS football, even in the summer.

With official practices now underway, the Knights got busy in the time off from school by participating with rival area schools in 7-on-7 gatherings that ended July 27.

Stripped down from the usual football get-up, but still wearing helmets and some pads, the Knights took the opportunity to learn the ins and outs of Kaneland football for the upcoming 2013 campaign, making the most of the 25 contact practices allowed during the summer months.

Kaneland, looking to make it a four-peat in the Northern Illinois Big XII conference East division, saw action at Northern Illinois University—where they went 5-1 on a weekend—against Aurora Christian, Metea Valley, Willowbrook and Geneva high schools throughout the summer.

The drill setup, more geared toward offense, provided a change of pace from having to see the same Knight faces.

“I think it’s really fun,” KHS coach Tom Fedderly said. “The kids enjoy it, and it’s an opportunity for them to compete and it’s to see who’s not afraid to make plays. We don’t care if they won or lost, we just want them to play hard.”

Not much tinkering goes into the equation that has led to three consecutive undefeated regular seasons and two State semifinal appearances in the past three campaigns.

“The kids are just getting to learn our system and passing game, so we won’t put a whole lot in there. We want them to learn the basics. With experimentation, we might put kids at different positions to see how they look,” Fedderly said.

As much as a refreshing change of pace it might be for some of the everyday athletes and heavy contributors, it’s also important for those on other tiers of the team, as well.

“We play everyone in the summer, so it’s a really good opportunity for some of the kids that we haven’t seen as much to get some reps and see how they do,” Fedderly said.

An important step of the summer, the 7-on-7 gatherings have more awareness to them throughout the area, according to Fedderly.

“People want to put more tournaments together, and colleges do it because they can take a look at kids, especially at places like Northern and Northwestern,” Fedderly said.

Kaneland’s regular season kickoff takes place on Friday, Aug. 30, against Chicago’s Brooks Prep.

Cohesive to their core

in Football by
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Key Kaneland players continue as teammates on college gridiron
ELBURN—Kaneland High School football players swapping their black-and-white jerseys after graduation for the blue and orange of the University of Wisconsin-Platteville has become a common occurrence over the past few years.

Two prominent members of last season’s Knights’ squad that mowed through the schedule undefeated before bowing to Lincoln-Way West in the second round of the Class 5A playoffs last fall are the latest Kaneland products to join head coach Mike Emendorfer’s club.

Zach Theis, a two-year starting left tackle who was named to the Illinois Football Coaches Association’s Class 5A all-state football team as a senior, and linebacker/safety Blake Bradford, are preparing to take their grid careers to the next level at the NCAA Division III school this fall.
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“I’m very excited,” Bradford said. “Football is something I enjoy greatly, and to be able to keep on playing after high school is something that I thought I’d never accomplish.”

“He’s a hard-nosed, tough young man,” Emendorfer said. “I’m looking forward to him coming into the program. Blake’s goal is to play a role on special teams and learn the system as quickly as possible his freshman year. Blake is going to be a safety or outside linebacker; he’s one of those ‘tweeners. When we get him into camp we’re going to figure that out.”

Emendorfer also is looking forward to adding Theis, the Northern Illinois Big 12 Conference East Offensive Player of the Year, to the mix on the O-line.

Zach Theis (No. 57). File photo
Zach Theis (No. 57). File photo
“You don’t find too many players in high school being recognized as Player of the Year as an offensive lineman,” Emendorfer said. “We think he has a chance to compete for playing time, but we’re very careful about making any promises. He has talent; it’s just a matter of making that transition to college.”

Theis’ mindset going into the season is to contribute in any way possible.

“I’m going to go in and try my hardest and do everything they want me to do,” Theis said. “If it ends up being a starting spot, that’s the way it’s going to be, but if it’s not that, I’ll fill my role on the team and be a team player.”

The former Kaneland stars also will be roommates at their new school. They’ll be living in a dorm on campus.
“We’ve got everything,” Theis said. “We’re just trying to find a couch.”

No doubt, Kaneland products Quinn Buschbacher and Ryley Bailey, both wideouts on the squad, will help Theis and Bradford adjust to life at UW-Platteville both on and off the field. Bradford and Theis played alongside Buschbacher in 2011, while Bradford and Bailey have known each other since they were kids.

“It’s definitely nice to go in there and play with someone you’ve already played with before,” Bradford said. “Not a lot of people get to do that, and I think it’s going to be fun.”

Buschbacher, a sophomore for the Pioneers, recalls how Bailey, now a senior, took him under his wing when he became part of the team last year. He plans on mentoring Theis and Bradford once they arrive in Platteville.

Former KHS standout Quinn Buschbacher. Courtesy Photo
Former KHS standout Quinn Buschbacher. Courtesy Photo
Former KHS standout Ryley Bailey. Courtesy Photo
Former KHS standout Ryley Bailey. Courtesy Photo
“With Ryley, it was super nice coming into college,” Buschbacher said. “He acted like my older brother. I’ll be like Blake and Zach’s brother like Ryley did with me.”

There will be plenty for the new freshmen to adapt to, Buschbacher noted, such as a noticeable uptick in the speed of the game, managing their classes and their schedules.

“They’ve still got to learn the playbook, and the coaches have to get a feel for how they adapt to the level of speed, playing at a high level and being consistent,” Buschbacher said.

But Buschbacher believes Theis and Bradford will make a smooth transition to college ball. Coaches at UW-Platteville and Kaneland have developed a strong relationship over the years, and the two schools run the same type of offense and utilize similar terminology.

“They’re Kaneland boys,” Buschbacher said. “Ryley and I were able to adapt very well. Kaneland has a very good tradition and consistently plays at a very high level. It allows us to come in, work hard and have that determination to push through and reach whatever level we want to.”

They’ve adapted well, indeed. Bailey led the Pioneers in receptions (70), receiving yards (849) and touchdowns (10) last season. He was named a first-team all-Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC) player and also was selected national Division III Receiver of the Week after catching 11 passes for 191 yards and two scores during a 49-19 win over UW-Eau Claire.

Emendorfer said Bailey has the potential to be an all-American candidate this season.

“I’ve been in college coaching at Platteville 15 years, and Ryley is one of most intelligent football players I’ve ever coached,” he said. “What Ryley brings to the table is football savvy. He’s our Swiss knife. He can do everything; he can block, catch the vertical game, catch the short game and is a very versatile athlete. He’s one of our best blocking receivers. When we need a big play, Ryley’s the guy we go to.”

Buschbacher, meanwhile, caught 26 passes for 216 yards and two TDs last year. Emendorfer indicated he has big plans for the team’s 2012 freshman Player of the Year this season.

“Quinn is very explosive,” Emendorfer said. “He can take a 5-yard pass and turn it into a 50-yard touchdown easily. As the year went on, he got more and more playing time. Offensively, we averaged over 40 points per game (last year). The reason is because of people like Quinn and Ryley. We’re hoping for big things next year.”

The Pioneers, coming off an 8-2 record—their first 8-2 season since 1976—are garnering national attention. They’re ranked 14th in Lindy’s Sports Magazine’s Division III pre-season top 25.

Buschbacher said he feels confident the Pioneers can live up to their preseason billing, if not exceed expectations. Making the Division III playoffs, and advancing in the postseason, are among the Pioneers’ goals for 2013.

“I’m really excited,” Buschbacher said. “We have a good group of guys that are motivated to be successful. The Stagg Bowl (the Division III national championship game) is out there for us to take, but it’s up to us to reach that goal. We know it’s out there. We have to do whatever we can to capture it.”

re-’Fleck’-tions from a head coach

in Featured/Football by

KHS alum P.J. Fleck prepares for 1st season as head coach in major college football
by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—When asked about former Knight wideout P.J. Fleck, former assistant and current Kaneland High School head football coach Tom Fedderly said, “No one is going to outwork P.J.”

“I don’t know about anyone else, I just try to outwork myself,” Fleck said on Monday.

That could be what led to the Sugar Grove native’s rise through the ranks among NFL and college football staffs. His rise culminated in becoming the youngest head coach in major college football on Dec. 18, when he took over the top spot at Western Michigan University at the age of 32.

He replaced eight-year head coach Bill Cubit, who had been fired after a 51-46 stint leading the Broncos.

After starring for Kaneland High School and Northern Illinois University, and then making the NFL as a member of the 2004 San Francisco 49ers, Fleck entered the coaching ladder as a graduate assistant with Coach Jim Tressel’s Ohio State Buckeyes.

Fleck then went on to be wide receivers coach at NIU and Rutgers before following former Scarlet Knights head coach Greg Schiano to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for the 2012 season.

Fleck has plenty of mentors who have made an impact on him as he prepares for his first season in Kalamazoo, Mich.

“Anytime you’re a coach at any level, you’re built by who you were with,” Fleck said. “I’m all of those guys.”

Fleck’s aspirations always included being a head coach at some level. A chance to lead a program with plenty of Midwestern talent and belonging to a conference with ample television coverage gives him a stage to show what he can accomplish.

“People looked at Nick Saban when he first started coaching and said he had never been a coach before,” Fleck said. “Now it’s wondering if he can win another national championship. You can’t be a head coach until you get the job.”

Assembling the Broncos’ football staff provided a boost to the first-year coach.

“I was excited to assemble my kind of coaching staff. In my short career, I’ve been around a lot of coaching staffs, and now it’s my chance. Every year, you kind of re-invent yourself until you become a head coach,’ Fleck said.

Fleck tries to lead the program back to a winning season, last seen in 2011 when the Broncos went to the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl and finished third in the MAC West Division.

The Kaneland grad is also getting the head coach/father dynamic down, as the birth of his second child, daughter Paisley, came just 24 hours before he officially took the Broncos’ helm.

“I love it, and somehow I have more energy,” Fleck said. “You have to be able to manage your time, and this has made me a better husband and father.”

The 15th head coach in Western Michigan history has plenty of fans in his corner locally, as Fedderly saw early on what Fleck was capable of accomplishing.

“Just watching him mature and become the man that he is just makes me really proud. He’s just a really good friend and good friend of our family. To see him work his way up as he did and become a head coach at 32 is unbelievable,” Fedderly said.

With mere months remaining before the start of his first season, Fleck reflected on the the biggest change he has experienced thus far in his new role.

“You are the final decision maker. I’ve always wanted to be that. You listen to the coaching staff and hear what they have to say and at the end of the day, you make the best choice,” Fleck said. “Greg (Schiano) was the best I’ve ever seen at making decisions.”

Having to start somewhere, Fleck has reached a pinnacle at his first head coaching stop.

“People have always doubted me at every stop,” Fleck said. “It’s happened my whole life, and I love it.”

Fleck and his WMU team kick things off in East Lansing, Mich., against the Michigan State Spartans on Saturday, Aug. 31.

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NFHS announces rules changes

in Boys Soccer/Football/Girls Soccer by

Indianapolis—That National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) recently announced some changes for soccer and football; all of which will take effect starting with the 2013-14 season.

Soccer Clarification on coach-player communications
The NFHS announced new rules clarifying when and how coaches can communicate with their players.

Effective with the 2013-14 season, coaches and players can communicate during a stoppage of play for an injury. Rule 3-3-1c(1) still requires a coach or appropriate health-care professional to have the approval of the referee before entering the field; however, teams may now huddle and receive coaching instruction during the stoppage, which previously was prohibited.

Another change in regard to communication involves electronic devices. While using electronic communication devices to communicate with on-field players is still prohibited, the use of electronic devices on the sideline is allowed.

“If a coach is on the bench and wants to use a tablet-type device to video and then at halftime show the players the rights and wrongs, they are able to do that,” said Mark Koski, NFHS director of sports and events and liaison to the Soccer Rules Committee.

Koski said the previous rule banned all communication devices, including cell phones, from the sideline. If such devices were found, a caution could have been issued.

Another of the seven rules changes involves the intentional fouling of a player who has an obvious goal-scoring opportunity. The new rule states that if a player commits a foul while attempting to deny an obvious goal-scoring opportunity and the goal is scored, that player will be issued a yellow card. If the foul is considered serious foul play, however, the player will still be issued a red card.

If a goal is not scored, the player who committed the foul will be issued a red card.

“The committee doesn’t want to penalize a team twice for the same play by having the goal scored against them, then to lose a player,” Koski said. “On the other hand, when a red card is issued when the shot is missed, the team is still suffering just a single blow.”

Revisions to two rules now require players to check in with the scorer/timer—or the referee if there is not a scorer/timer in place—prior to entering the game when a goal is scored or when a player is injured and removed from the field. After checking in, the player must wait until he or she is beckoned onto the field by the referee.

“This rule helps with game organization and allows officials to know who the players of record are,” Koski said.

At the start of the half, the players can enter the field of play without being beckoned by an official.

Another rules change for 2013-14 involves uniforms, specifically the use of tape on socks. Rule 4-1-1c requires both socks to be the same color and consist of a single dominant color. The change results in the use of tape that is applied outside of the sock, which now must be a similar color to the area of the sock to which it is applied.

The Soccer Rules Committee also approved a change to the definition of the “Free Kick.” The committee agreed that just tapping the top of the ball was not “putting it in play.” For the ball to be considered “in play,” it must be kicked and move.

Soccer is the fifth-most popular sport for boys and fourth among girls at the high school level. According to the 2011-12 High School Athletics Participation Survey, 411,757 boys are involved in soccer and 370,975 girls participate in the sport.

Football New rules regarding helmets that come off players
In an effort to continue minimizing the risk of injury in high school football, three additional rules will take effect next season to address helmets coming off players’ heads during games.

These three risk-minimization additions were among 10 rules changes approved by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Football Rules Committee at its January 18-20 meeting in Indianapolis. All rules changes were subsequently approved by the NFHS Board of Directors.

As a follow-up to last year’s rules change that requires players to sit out one play if their helmet comes off while the ball is live, the committee approved three additional rules that are extensions of last year’s change.

An illegal personal contact foul was added to Rule 9-4-3 to state that “no player or nonplayer shall initiate contact with an opposing player whose helmet has come completely off.”

In addition, a new listing in Rule 9-6-4 will state that it is illegal participation “for a player whose helmet comes completely off during a down to continue to participate beyond the immediate action in which the player is engaged.”

“With its continued focus on risk minimization, the committee determined that a helmet-less player shall not block, tackle or otherwise participate beyond the immediate action in which the player is engaged when the helmet came completely off,” said Bob Colgate, NFHS director of sports and sports medicine. “The penalty would be a live-ball, basic-spot foul.”

The committee also added language to Rule 3-5-10 to clarify that if the helmet comes completely off during the down or subsequent dead-ball action related to the down—and is not directly attributable to a foul by the opponent—the player must leave the game for at least one down, with the exception of halftime or overtime intermission. When this occurs, an official’s time-out shall be called.

“Player safety has been and will continue to be the top priority for members of the NFHS Football Rules Committee,” said Brad Garrett, chair of the NFHS Football Rules Committee and assistant executive director of the Oregon School Activities Association. “These rules changes regarding helmet-less players are more examples of the group’s commitment to minimize risk within the game.”

Perhaps the most significant rules change next season will be one that reduces the penalty for pass interference. While the 15-yard penalty will remain for both offensive and defensive pass interference, the loss of down has been removed for offensive pass interference and the automatic first down has been eliminated for defensive pass interference.

“Offensive and defensive pass interference and the penalty structure related to these fouls has been debated many times in recent years,” Garrett said. “Proposals that either deleted the loss of down or the automatic first down—but not both—failed to gain support among committee members. The proposal to eliminate both components, thus not upsetting the balance between offense and defense, was the key factor in the adoption of the new rule.”

Another change at high school football games next year will be the expanded use of communication devices. In specific situations, coaches, players and nonplayers will be allowed to use any form of communication technology.

This expansion of the rule allows the use of communication devices during authorized conferences outside the nine-yard marks, on the sidelines and during the halftime intermission. Use of communication devices by players except conferences outside the nine-yard mark continues to be prohibited.

In Rule 2-4-1, the committee clarified the rule approved last year regarding the definition of a catch, which stated that a receiver is required to establish possession of the ball and contact the ground inbounds while maintaining possession—regardless of the opponent’s action.

“The committee clarified the definition of a catch such that an airborne player who has forward progress stopped inbounds and is carried out of bounds by an opponent before contacting the ground is awarded a catch at the spot of forward progress,” Colgate said.

In Rule 9-3-8, the committee added another provision to the rule enacted last year regarding contact by the kicking team against members of the receiving team. The new provision stipulates that the kicking team may initiate contact once the receiving team has initiated a block within the neutral zone.

The committee also approved the addition of a 15-yard penalty to the existing option of accepting an awarded fair catch for kick-catch interference.

Finally, in Rule 8-3-3, the committee clarified that the touchdown scoring team is the only team that can score on a try, and in Rule 1-5-3 the committee modified the rule regarding the wearing of towels.

Football is the No. 1 participatory sport for boys at the high school level with 1,121,744 participants in the 2011-12 school year, according to the High School Athletics Participation Survey conducted by the NFHS through its member state associations. In addition, the survey indicated there were 1,805 girls who played football in 2011-12.

Publisher teams up with Beebe to tell story

in Elburn/Football/Kaneland/Regional/Sugar Grove by

by Mike Slodki
AURORA—Aurora Christian football coach Don Beebe has made a career and life out of transitions.

A 1983 graduate of Kaneland High School, he suited up for the Knights and went to school at Western Illinois and Chadron State College in Nebraska.

After working construction and putting up aluminum siding in nearby towns like Montgomery, he moved on for a shot at the NFL Combine and was subsequently drafted by the Buffalo Bills.

After several years and an infamous Super Bowl swat later, Beebe went to the Green Bay Packers, where he earned a championship ring in 1997.

Beebe then moved on to the next phase of his life, operating Don Beebe’s House of Speed, and most recently, head coach of the two-time Class 3A football champion Aurora Christian Eagles.

That’s where Jim Gibson comes in.

Gibson, owner and operator of Big Talk Publishing in Aurora, met with Beebe to put a book together. The result, “Six Rings from Nowhere,” was released at Aurora Christian High School last week.

It wasn’t hard for Gibson, a veteran of the television and movie industry, to get involved and tout the story.

“What’s great is that Don isn’t a blue-chipper, he’s blue collar,” Gibson said. “He’s the guy reading that book.”

Hoopla surrounding the book should continue with the NFL playoffs on the horizon. This season marks the 20th anniversary of the Bills’ historic Wild Card round comeback against the Houston Oilers, as well as the Super Bowl swat to rob Leon Lett of a defensive touchdown.

Gibson said CBS Sports is set to be in the area to interview Beebe and Lett about the play.

“(Beebe’s) so humble about all this. He’s a guy that showed up at the same combine with a pair of old tennis shoes and a duffle bag sharing space with Deion Sanders, Troy Aikman and Barry Sanders,” Gibson said.

The book is available for purchase at houseofspeed.com, sixringsfromnowhere .com, donbeebe.com, or at Aurora Christian High School.

“This book was a no-brainer, and comes after a long process,” Gibson said. “I knew of Don before this, and as I got to know him on a much deeper level, I felt he really needed to explain his story.”

“Six Rings from Nowhere,” co-written with writer Denise Crosby, has an introduction by Beebe’s Bills teammate Jim Kelly, and a forward by his Packers teammate Brett Favre.

Included in the book are tales of Favre giving a game ball to Beebe after their Super Bowl XXXI win over the New England Patriots, and his first catch in the NFL, a touchdown pass against Houston cornerback Cris Dishman.

“(Beebe’s) a guy that was out of college football for three-and-a-half years, and decided ‘I have to get back to football,’ and that’s the beginning,” Gibson said.

Big Talk Publishing’s effort is a story of faith, hope and triumph, plus plenty of anecdotes for the most ardent football fan.

The story of the Kaneland Knight-turned construction worker-turned-wide reciever-turned-championship coach and father of four has something for everyone.

“Working with him and talking about how he got his first ring and the winner of ESPN’s first Play of the Year was great,” Gibson said. “But it’s about a guy who has the heart of a champion.”

Gigantic week for P.J. Fleck

in Featured/Football/Kaneland/Sugar Grove by

Kaneland alum has daughter day before officially becoming WMU head coach
Kalamazoo, Mich.—Kaneland School District Hall of Fame member and Sugar Grove native P.J. Fleck had a whirlwind start to his week.

Preliminary, unconfirmed reporting from various sports media outlets began Monday, stating that Fleck would be officially named the head football coach at Western Michigan University (WMU).

The WMU Athletics Department confirmed the reports during the day Monday, stating that a press conference to officially name Fleck as their football program’s head coach had been set for Tuesday afternoon.

“When talking with people about Coach Fleck, the words used to describe his approach were ‘limitless energy,’ ‘limitless possibility,’ ‘limitless passion,’ ‘limitless enthusiasm,’ ‘limitless drive,’ ‘limitless achievement’ and ‘limitless opportunity,’” posted Mat Kanan, director of athletic media, when announcing the press conference online.

That press conference was put in jeopardy when Fleck’s wife, Tracie, went into labor Monday evening. The couple later welcomed their second child, Paisley, who will now look up to big brother, Carter Joseph (C.J.).

Fleck then made the trip to Kalamazoo, Mich., in time for the press conference.

“It’s great to be back in the MAC,” Fleck said as he reached the podium after being officially announced as the Broncos’ head coach. “I feel like I’ve come home.”

He presented the packed Varsity W Club Room in the Seeyle Center on the WMU campus with his plan as the university’s 15th head coach.

“We will do everything we can to bring success on the field and in the classroom,” he said.

Fleck described his approach to building a collegiate football program, as well as giving some insight into himself as a person.

“I’m an ordinary guy and I’ve surrounded myself with extraordinary people,” he said.

Fleck was a standout wide receiver on the back-to-back undefeated KHS state championship teams in 1998 and 1999. He set state records during his time as a Knight, with 95 catches for 1,548 yards and 16 touchdowns in his senior season. In his KHS career, Fleck caught 199 passes for 3,121 yards and 34 touchdowns, including a string of 40 straight games in which he caught at least one pass.

He then went on to play wide receiver for Northern Illinois University, where he earned first-team All Mid-American Conference honors in 2003. As a senior, he led NIU with 77 catches for 1,028 yards and six touchdowns.

Fleck began his coaching career after two seasons as a member of the San Francisco 49ers. After signing with the 49ers as a free agent in 2004, he spent most of that season on the practice squad before making an appearance versus New England late in the year. He was placed on the injured reserve roster in 2005 before retiring from professional football in June 2006.

Fleck began his coaching career as an offensive graduate assistant at Ohio State University in 2006, working with the Buckeyes’ tight ends and assisting with the special teams units.

Northern Illinois University hired Fleck in 2007 as a wide receivers coach, and he also served as the team’s recruiting coordinator. He then took wide receivers coaching position for Rutgers University in 2010. In early 2012, Fleck was hired as NIU offensive coordinator, but resigned the following day, instead taking a wide receivers coaching position with the Tampa Bay Buccanears in the National Football League.

Now, with his head coaching position at WMU, Fleck is the youngest head coach in the Football Bowl Subdivision.

Fleck and his wife annually host the P.J. Fleck “Live Your Dream” Football Camp that benefits the Juvenile Arthritis Foundation (Friends of Carra), Alapecia Foundation (Locks of Love), Coach Kill’s Cancer Fund and the P.J. Fleck Scholarship Fund.

Bailey named All-Conference

in Elburn/Football/Hometown by

Platteville, Wisc.—Ryley Bailey, a student at the University of Wisconsin—Platteville, was named to the 2012 All-Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference football team.

Bailey, an Elburn resident and Kaneland graduate, is a junior wide receiver on the team.

KHS fall sports announce awards

in Boys Cross Country/Boys Soccer/Football/Girls Cross Country/Golf/Volleyball by

Kaneland—The Kaneland High School fall sports programs recently concluded their respective awards nights.

Cross Country—Boys
• Most Valuable Runner: Kyle Carter, Conor Johnson
• Most Improved Runner: Nathaniel Kucera
• Larry Eddington Award for Courage, Leadership and Strength—Nick Messina
• Captains—Kyle Carter, Conor Johnson, Brad Kigyos
• Golden Knight Award—Freshman: Kyle Osborne; Sophomore: Andrew Lesak; Junior: Ryan Bower; Senior: Gus Stott
• State Qualifiers—Kyle Carter, Conor Johnson, Nathaniel Kucera, John Meisinger, Ryan Bower, Brandon Huber, Ryan Paulson, Luis Acosta
• All Conference—Kyle Carter

Cross Country—Girls
• Captains—Abby Dodis, Maggie Brundige, Ashley Castellanos
• Most Improved Runner—Jessica Kucera, Sydney Strang
• Most Valuable Runner—Victoria Clinton
• All Conference—Victoria Clinton, Brianna Bower, Abby Dodis, Sydney Strang, Amanda Lesak
• State Qualifiers—Victoria Clinton, Aislinn Lodwig, Sydney Strang, Abby Dodis, Ashley Castellanos, Maggie Brundige, Amanda Lesak, Brianna Bower
• All State, State Champion—Victoria Clinton

Football
• Captains—Blake Bradford, Ryan Lawrence, Dan Goress, Kory Harner, Nick Sharp
• Most Improved Player—Bradley Johnson
• Most Valuable Player—Blake Bradford
• Offensive MVP—Zach Martinelli
• Defensive MVP—Gary Koehring
• Special Teams MVP—Matt Rodriguez
• NIB XII All Conference—Zach Theis, Nick Sharpe, Alex Snyder, Zach Martinelli, Jesse Balluff, Drew David, Justin Diddell, Jaumaureo Phillips, Blake Bradford, Kory Harner, Gary Koehring, Ryan Lawrence, Matt Rodriguez

Golf
• Varsity Most Improved Player—Jessy Denton
• Varsity MVP—Matt Yonkovich
• Fresh/Soph MVP—Jeremy Faletto
• Fresh/Soph Most Improved Player—Tori Guyton, C.J. Wehrmann
• All Conference—Matt Yonkovich, Connor Williams, Brody Kuhar, Luke Kreiter
• State Qualifiers—Connor Williams, Luke Kreiter, Matt Yonkovick, Brody Kuhar, Dan Miller, Sean Glennon

Soccer
• Captains—Alex Gil, Anthony Parillo, Marshall Farthing, Sam Rymarz, Alec Koczka, Ivan Bohorquez
• Most Improved Player—Jason Biddle, Marshall Farthing
• Most Valuable Player—Alex Gil, Anthony Parillo
• Rookie of the Year—Ivan Bohorquez
• Coach’s Award—Tyler Siebert, Alec Koczka, Chris Van Dinther, J.T. Karr
• Offensive Player of the Year—Anthony Parillo
• Defensive Player of the Year—Sam Rymarz
• Player of the Year—Anthony Parillo
• All Conference—Marshall Farthing, Alex Gil, Anthony Parillo, Alec Koczka, Sam Rymarz
• All Conference-Honorable Mention—Arsim Azemi
• All Sectional-Honorable Mention—Arsim Azemi
• All Sectional—Alex Gil, Marshall Farthing
• All State—Anthony Parillo

Tennis
• Team Spirit Awards—Varsity: Jess Woodward; JV: Katelyn Blaszynski
• Most Improved Awards—Varsity: Colleen Landers; JV: Mallory Dugan
• MVP—Sarah Grams, Stephanie Zwick
• Outstanding Achievement Awards—School Record: 38 wins—Madison Jurcenko, Angelica Emmanouil; 1st Singles player to qualify for the State Tournament—Samantha Schrepferman
• State Qualifiers—Madison Jurcenko, Angelica Emmanouil, Samantha Schrepferman
• All Conference—Madison Jurcenko, Angelica Emmanouil, Samantha Schrepferman, Sarah Grams

Volleyball
• Most Improved Player—Emily Laudont, Keri Groen
• Spirit Award—Rachael Clinton
• MVP—Jenny Lubic
• Top Offensive Player—Ellie Dunn
• Top Defensive Player—Shayna Tucek
• All Conference—Ellie Dunn, Lauren Banbury

KHS fall athletes earn accolades

in Boys Cross Country/Featured/Football/Girls Cross Country/Golf/Volleyball by

Kaneland—A number of Kaneland High School fall athletes were recognized for their performance from throughout the 2012 season.

Leading the way for Kaneland’s post-season honors was senior offensive lineman Zach Theis. He was named to the Illinois High School Football Coaches Association All-State Team, was the NIB-12 East Division Offensive MVP and All-Conference.

Joining Theis as Kaneland football All-Conference Team members were senior offensive lineman Nick Sharp, junior offensive lineman Alex Snyder, senior wide receiver Zack Martinelli, junior running back Jesse Balluff, junior quarterback Drew David, junior defensive lineman Justin Diddell, junior defensive lineman Jaumaureo Phillips, senior defensive back Blake Bradford, senior defensive back Kory Harner, junior linebacker Gary Koehring, senior linebacker Ryan Lawrence, and junior kicker Matt Rodriguez. Balluff was also an All-State Honorable Mention. Balluff, David, Snyder and Koehring were each named to the All State Academic Team.

Earning All-Conference honors from the Kaneland High School volleyball team were sophomore Ellie Dunn, senior Lauren Banbury and senior Ashley Prost.

Girls cross country All-Conference honors went to sophomore Victoria Clinton, freshman Brianna Bower, senior Abby Dodis, junior Sydney Strang, and senior Amanda Lesak.

Junior Kyle Carter earned All-Conference distinction for boys cross country.

All-Conference golf team members were juniors Matt Yonkovick and Brody Kuhar, and seniors Luke Kreiter and Connor Williams.

Dratnol named to Capital One Academic All-District team

in Football by

ROCK ISLAND, Ill.—Kaneland alum Eric Dratnol was one of two Augustana football players named to the first team of the Capital One Academic All-District team. The junior center earned the honors in District Seven, which includes Illinois, Indiana and Ohio.

The team is selected by the College Sports Information Directors of America.

He will now be advanced to the national ballot, where he will attempt to add to Augustana’s prodigious total of Academic All-Americans. Since the AAA program began in 1951, Augustana has produced 139 honorees, which places the Vikings sixth all-time. Augustana is currently second among NCAA Division III institutions.

Dratnol has been a season-long starter at center and is considered a primary reason why the Augustana rushing attack came to life this year. He is an accounting and applied math major with a 3.83 grade point average. He is the son of David and Phyllis Dratnol of Montgomery.

No-Way for Knight football

in Featured/Football by

Photo: Quarterback Drew David looks downfield under good blocking during the second quarter at Lincoln-Way West on Saturday. Photo by Patti Wilk

Lincoln-Way West builds big lead, eliminates Kaneland in second-round action
by Mike Slodki
NEW LENOX, Ill.—It’s been awhile since the Knight football team has seen that kind of offensive and defensive output from a playoff opponent.

The newest of the four Lincoln-Way schools, the Warriors from the West, used their playmakers to the best of their ability while employing their stingy defense on the way to a 31-15 upset of the Kaneland crew on Saturday afternoon.

In the first meeting of the two schools on the football field, the Warriors pressured Drew David and also broke long gains throughout the day in a meeting of No. 1 and No. 9 seeds in the Class 5A playoffs.

For Kaneland, it marks the earliest exit for the squad since 2009, when rival Sycamore bested the host Knights, 40-13, in a first-round matchup.

The Warriors improve to 8-3 on the year, while KHS finishes the season at 10-1, but still is 6-4 in its last 10 playoff encounters. The Knights will also enter 2013 with its 28-game regular season win streak intact.

Junior Drew David had his toughest game of the 2012 campaign, still nursing an injured hand. He was sacked seven times and threw for 84 yards with three interceptions.

L-WW saw its first scoring drive end with a nine-yard touchdown pass from Justin Keuch to Nick Andrade with 5:20 left in the first for a 7-0 lead.

L-WW struck again in the second quarter on a 10-play drive that ended with a 26-yard touchdown run out of the Wildcat formation by senior transfer Lavonte Blackful on fourth down for a 14-0 edge with 7:47 to go before halftime.

Kaneland fell victim to an interception on the ensuing drive’s second play, and runs by Blackful and Javier Montalvo set up a 22-yard field goal from Joe Leo with 2:00 left for a 17-0 lead going into the break.

The Warriors expanded on their lead when the running attack set up a 10-yard TD strike to Jake Robbins with 8:01 remaining in the third for a 24-0 edge.

Jesse Balluff (30) comforts quarterback Drew David (4) at the end of their playoff loss to Lincoln-Way West on Saturday. Photo by Patti Wilk
A dagger came after a KHS punt set up the hosts at their own 18, but Blackful went 82 yards for a score on a sweep with 2:24 remaining in the third for a 31-0 lead.

Kaneland finally found the end zone thanks to a nine-yard touchdown pass from Tyler Carlson to Zach Martinelli with 2:06 to go. Martinelli ran in the two-point try to make it 31-8. On its next possession, the Knights’ Carlson ran it in from the four with :47 left for the final 16-point margin.

KHS coach Tom Fedderly gave credit to the Warriors, a force to be reckoned with.

“It was tough, but we kind of got behind so much that we really had to go to our passing game,” Fedderly said. “We knew going in that we’d have to mix things up. To their credit, those guys did a great job. Offensively, they moved the ball on us.”

Lincoln-Way West faces Joliet Catholic in the third round, as the Hilltoppers beat Tinley Park on Saturday, 42-21.

Fedderly recognized by Chicago Bears

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Sixth-year coach gets Coach of the Week award after Morris win
by Mike Slodki
Kaneland—In the midst of playoff preparations for a first-round rematch with Belvidere on Oct. 23, KHS coach Tom Fedderly checked his voicemail messages.

“It was Pat McCaskey of the Bears telling me that I’d been named Bears Coach of the Week for Week 9 after our win against Morris,” Fedderly said. “I couldn’t believe it, I thought someone was pranking me.”

The Bears selected a High School Coach of the Week after every regular season game, with Fedderly selected after the last-minute win over Morris to secure Kaneland’s third consecutive Northern Illinois Big XII Conference title and undefeated regular season.

The Coach of the Week program is in its 17th season and also has some nice perks for the winning coaches.

Fedderly and the winning coaches will be invited to attend a “chalk-talk” with Bears coach Lovie Smith and have lunch with the ninth-year coach. That leads up to the Sunday, Dec. 2, contest against the Seattle Seahawks at Soldier Field.

The Bears also make a $1,500 donation to the winning school’s football program.

Honors aside, Fedderly is not just happy for himself.

“This isn’t about me, this really is about the whole staff, who work so hard. It’s nice to see this, we really have young, hard-working coaches that do such a great job,” Fedderly said.

The weekly honor winners are not the only ones that are scheduled to be introduced at halftime, but also the eight state championship winning coaches.

Fedderly hopes there’s a bit of overlap when it comes to his honor.

“We hope we’re in there, but I’m lucky to have this, and it’s about what the staff has been able to do,” Fedderly said.

The Knights travel to Lincoln-Way West High School for their second-round matchup on Saturday, Nov. 3, at 1 p.m.

First things first

in Featured/Football by

Photo: Kaneland’s Kory Harner takes down the Belvidere receiver in the third quarter of the Knight’s 48-0 home playoff romp on Saturday. Photo by Patti Wilk

Knight attack
sends Belvidere Bucs
reeling in 48-0 win

by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—Saturday night seemed familiar.

No. 1 Kaneland and No. 16 Belvidere once again brought in 9-0 and 5-4 records, respectively, to their second consecutive Class 5A first-round meeting.

The obviously similar occurrence to last year would be the Knights football squad emerging as the victor, which was about the only thing the same.

Instead of a 51-45 shootout from a year ago, the Knights jumped out early and stifled whatever Belvidere’s offense could muster in a 48-0 shellacking of the NIC-10 representative Bucs.

Kaneland (10-0) begins a playoff win streak anew after losing in the Class 5A State semifinals to visiting Montini Catholic to close out the 2011 season.

KHS is now 35-3 in its last 38 contests, dating back to the 2009 campaign.

Belvidere finishes at 5-5 after putting up 74 total yards and three first downs, despite the vast talents of quarterback Troy Vandenbroek and wide out Kane Steger.

Running back Jesse Balluff had 110 yards rushing and two scores, while quarterback Drew David continued to work his way back from a nagging hand injury with 128 yards passing and a rushing TD.

On the defensive end, Dylan Nauert picked off three passes and very nearly ran them in for scores before being stopped.

Balluff got things started early, with shades of Quinn Buschbacher’s first play from scrimmage in 2011, taking a direct snap out of wildcat formation all the way to the end zone for a 41-yard touchdown just 81 seconds into the contest for a 7-0 lead.

After a Blake Bradford fumble recovery deep into Bucs’ territory, Balluff scored from the 1 four plays later for a 14-0 edge.

“We knew their defense was the weaker part of their team,” Balluff said. “We scored 51 last year and we knew that was coming, but still, we were worried about their offense.”

The Knights’ next drive had a key third-down pass to Zach Martinelli for 19 yards, and two plays later, David called his own number for a one-yard touchdown sneak for a 21-0 lead with 10:43 left in the second quarter.

Kaneland employed Balluff to gain ground on its next drive, and Matt Rodriguez nailed a 35-yard field goal try with 3:18 remaining in the first half for a 24-0 lead.

A Nauert interception on the first play of the Bucs’ ensuing drive gave the ball back to KHS at the 13-yard line, where Rodriguez hit his second field goal, a 25-yarder, for a 27-0 advantage with 1:30 left in the first half.

Belvidere began the second half with a three-and-out, allowing David to find Kyle Pollastrini after one play for a 56-yard TD strike after the receiver deftly followed a block and galloped down the sideline with 10:49 left in the third for a 34-0 edge.

Nauert had interceptions on the next two Belvidere drives, the final one putting Kaneland at the visitors’ 21.

Fullback Nate Dyer ran the ball six consecutive times before plunging in from the 1-yard line for a 41-0 lead with 3:10 to go in the third to trigger the running clock.

Backup QB Tyler Carlson scampered for a 30-yard TD run with 5:12 to go for the final 48-point margin.

KHS coach Tom Fedderly made sure the Knights were not caught off guard by their foes from the north again.

“We really wanted to make sure we gave them our best effort tonight,” Fedderly said. “I’m really happy with the results. You look at some of the teams they play, and they’re great, like Rockford Boylan, Harlem and Hononegah. We’re just not taking anyone for granted.”

Saturday, Nov. 3, at 1 p.m. brings the second-round challenge for the Knights, in the form of a road jaunt to New Lenox, Ill., to face the host No. 9 Lincoln-Way West (LW-W) Warriors. The Warriors, coached by Todd Ernst, finished 6-3 in the regular season and ousted No. 8 Rochelle on Friday night in a 35-0 drubbing of the Hubs in Ogle County.

The Warriors, members of the Southwest Suburban Conference Red Division, outscored its opponents by an average of 24-13 through the regular season, and also made it to the second round a year ago.

LW-W gave up a season-high 19 points back on opening night, Aug. 24, against Kaneland rival Sycamore in a 19-13 setback.

The Knights-Warriors battle marks the first time KHS has been on the road for a second-round matchup since a meeting with the North Chicago Warhawks back in 2006.

Offsetting Rochelle’s loss, the Northern Illinois Big XII saw wins from Sycamore with a 35-13 win over Chicago’s King, and Morris, which beat Rich East 44-0.

NIB-12 champions

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Last-minute heroics lead to win over Morris, 3rd-straight conference crown
by Mike Slodki
Kaneland—It was anyone’s ballgame to win.

By virtue of heightened play on their last drive, coupled with a bit of luck, it turned out to be Kaneland’s ballgame.

Echoing the dramatic narrative histrionics of a year ago in Grundy County, it came down to the Knights’ final possession against Morris on Friday, with Drew David throwing a five-yard, game-winning touchdown pass to Zach Martinelli with :27 left for a 33-30 win.

“We’ve run that route numerous times all year, and Drew put that ball on the money,” Martinelli said. “It couldn’t have been any better. I saw it coming and I was smiling.”

The win cemented Kaneland’s third straight undefeated regular season. Kaneland’s program has now won 28 regular season games in a row. Counting the postseason, KHS is 34-3 in its last 37 contests.

The Knights also finish the regular season as Northern Illinois Big XII East division champions and have never lost a conference game.

Kaneland outgained the visiting Redskins by a count of 408-280 and advanced 200 yards on the ground in the win.

Jesse Balluff provided immense support for the Knights with a 140-yard rushing effort with a touchdown, and even took some snaps out of the Wildcat formation to relieve David, who is still recovering from a nagging hand injury.

Morris quarterback Zach Cinnamon had a team-high 81 yards rushing.

His counterpart, David, was 13-for-21 for 208 yards with three touchdowns and an interception.

“I didn’t play last Friday, and I felt a little out of the game rhythm, but once we got back on the field for the first play I was good to go,” David said.

Martinelli was the top receiver with six catches for 124 yards.

KHS struck first in the opening frame, thanks to a third-down pass under pressure to Martinelli for a 59-yard touchdown with :10 left in the first for a 7-0 lead.

A kickoff return for a touchdown by Morris was called back because of a penalty, negating Morris’ chance to answer.

Morris’ first score came on a Cinnamon touchdown run from the 15-yard line with 4:21 remaining in the half.

KHS seemed to be moving toward another score, but a tipped pass was picked off by Josh Lincoln at the 5-yard line and returned all the way back to the 16-yard line of KHS. With time for one play, Fernando DelToro’s 33-yard field goal try ended the half with the Redskins taking a 10-7 lead.

Third-quarter scoring got underway with Balluff galloping over a tackler and going for a 53-yard touchdown with 8:38 remaining for a 14-10 lead in the third quarter.

The following drive went eight plays, featuring Balluff runs and a pass to Kyle Pollastrini. However, the drive stalled, allowing Matt Rodriguez to boot a 41-yard field goal for a 17-10 lead with 3:10 remaining.

Morris took five plays to find the end zone as Anthonee Monson scored on a 16-yard TD pass with :56 left in the frame to tie the score.

The fourth quarter began with six Balluff runs and a 39-yard field goal for a 20-17 lead with 9:52 remaining in regulation.

Morris used an Austin Hogan kickoff return to set up shop at the KHS 31. Reese Sobol scored on a 20-yard touchdown run on the fourth play of the drive for a 24-20 Morris lead with 8:01 remaining.

Kaneland made good on the next drive: an eight-play, 70-yard drive that ended with Dylan Nauert catching a touchdown pass from the 14 out of trips formation for a 27-24 edge with 4:10 remaining.

The two squads traded punts with Morris scoring next, thanks to a 49-yard scamper by Cinnamon with 1:58 remaining. The extra-point try was no good, but Morris still led 30-27.

After two incomplete passes, David rushed for 15, 33 and two yards to put the Knights in solid Redskins territory.

A pass to Pollastrini was good for 19 yards, which set up the final successful play.

Morris had a chance to drive 69 yards in 21 seconds, but Cinnamon was sacked on the final play.

“We go every week saying it’s going to be a four-quarter game,” KHS coach Tom Fedderly. “We’ve got to play every single second of the game until the last play is done, and we had to do it tonight.”

Kaneland, as the No. 1 seed on its side of the bracket, will host No. 16 Belvidere at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 27. Kaneland held on against the Bucs in the first round of the 2011 playoffs for a 51-45 barnburner.

IHSA Class 5A Playoff Notes
No. 1 Kaneland will host Belvidere High School in the first round of the Class 5A State Series.

Belvidere comes to Kaneland with a 5-4 overall record, and averages a 12.2 scoring deficit for the year.

Meanwhile, Kaneland enters the playoffs with a perfect 9-0 record, outscoring its opponents by an average 28.1 points per game.

Comcast Sportsnet Chicago to air ‘IHSA Playoff Pairing Release Show’ Oct. 20

in Football by

Bloomington, Ill.—In conjunction with the Illinois High School Association (IHSA) and the IHSA’s production partner, PlayOn! Sports, Comcast SportNet Chicago, announced it will once again be the home for postseason high school football in Illinois in 2012. This joint partnership will include the airing and live stream of the “IHSA Football Playoff Pairing Release Show” on Saturday, Oct. 20, and the IHSA Football State Championship games on Nov. 23-24.

Comcast SportsNet will be the first media outlet to reveal the first round match-ups of all 256 playoff qualifiers across eight classes during the “IHSA Football Playoff Pairing Release Show,” which will air LIVE from CSN’s downtown Chicago studios on Oct. 20 from 8 to 10 p.m. Fans can also watch the brackets unveiled via live interactive stream online at IHSA.tv and CSNChicago.com.

“High school football in Illinois is a special tradition,” said IHSA Executive Director Marty Hickman. “From the unique playoff pairing show, to the state championships, it is a very special time for so many communities. Comcast SportsNet Chicago’s commitment to the IHSA and our member schools means that we will be able deliver a superior product to a larger audience in Illinois and beyond.”

The pairings show and title games will be distributed to Comcast SportsNet Chicago’s entire viewing territory. Viewers are urged to visit CSNChicago.com to find the exact channel locations in their area.

Higher ground

in Featured/Football by

Photo: The Knights go up to try and block a Sycamore extra point during the first quarter of Kaneland’s 30-7 Homecoming win. Photo by Patti Wilk

Kaneland gets best of Sycamore in a rush in Homecoming game
by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—There’s beauty in simplicity.

Kaneland kept it simple on Friday night at Peterson Field, brought on by necessity after quarterback Drew David was spelled before the game by sophomore backup Tyler Carlson due to injury.

The Knights utilized a clock-munching, punishing ground game with different formations, and saw the defense also get in on the act en route to a 30-7 win in Northern Illinois Big XII Conference play.

Kaneland’s mark improved to 8-0, marking that particular stat for the third straight year, and 4-0 in the NIB-12 East.

Sycamore fell to 5-3 (2-2 NIB-12), and hasn’t beaten Kaneland in regular season play since a 37-7 win on Sept. 14, 2007, along Spartan Trail.

Kaneland lost to the Spartans in first-round playoff action on Halloween night, 2009, in Maple Park.

Not needing to go complicated with a first-time starter behind center, and having the ground tools at its expense, the Knights got 177 yards rushing from Jesse Balluff, and 104 from Carlson in the win.

“We came into this game thinking normal playbook, same plays, everything like that,” Balluff said. “The running was working so we went to that more.”

The scoring started from the Spartan end, thanks to a touchdown run from senior ballcarrier Austin Culton on the lengthy opening drive to make it 7-0 halfway through the first frame.

Beginning from their own 19, Kaneland used two runs by Carlson, including a 27-yard carry, and three by Balluff to get into position for a 1-yard scoring run by Carlson with 3:22 remaining in the first for a 7-7 tie.

The defense took the stage on Sycamore’s next drive, thanks to a stuff of Dion Hooker by Gary Koehring in the endzone to take the lead for good, 9-7, with 2:13 to go in the first.

“Our line got such a good push. They had him stuffed in the backfield. All I had to do was wrap him up and take him down,” Koehring said.

The second quarter featured another score from the Knights, with a drive beginning at the 38 of Sycamore. Three runs by Carlson and another by Balluff set up a third-and-8 from the 26, when Brandon Bishop hauled in a 16-yard pass.

Balluff took the next carry and powered his way through the middle for a touchdown to make it 16-7 with 1:33 before halftime.

Kaneland’s second-half opening drive came up empty after a missed 40-yard field goal try by Matt Rodriguez was returned to the Kaneland 33.

Justin Diddell stonewalled a Culton carry on 4th-and-1 at the Knight 24 to reverse possession.

A 10-play drive that featured a Zach Martinelli 20-yard catch sandwiched around runs from Carlson, Balluff and Dylan Nauert, led to a Balluff 14-yard score with :34 left in the third.

Carlson found a hole for a nine-yard scoring run to make the final margin of 23 with 6:35 remaining.

Morris comes into town to finish the regular season in a battle of undefeated squads on Friday, Oct. 19.

Morris hosted Kaneland a year ago with the NIB-12 East on the line and lost 31-28.

No lows at 7-0

in Featured/Football by

Photo: Kaneland’s Ryan Lawrence (29) gets in on the ball carrier with help coming from Bradley Johnson (79) and Gary Koehring (5) during the second quarter of the varsity boy’s 55-0 win at Yorkville on Friday. Photo by Patti Wilk

Knights take hunt to Foxes in 55-0 win
by Mike Slodki
YORKVILLE—Foxes football must have felt like it was in a valley of the same name after the final buzzer sounded on Friday.

Jesse Balluff and his fellow Knights peaked again, and not for the first time.

With four touchdowns, Balluff and crew triggered a running clock for the fourth time in seven tries in 2012, en route to a 55-0 win over the host Yorkville squad at Campbell Field.

Kaneland improved to 7-0 (3-0 Northern Illinois Big XII East), while Yorkville fell to 3-4 (0-3). The Knights still have yet to lose a NIB-12 conference matchup since the group’s inception in 2010, and begin 7-0 for the third consecutive season.

Kaneland has now won 26 regular season contests in a row, dating back to the final week of the 2009 regular season, and 28 of its last 30 contests overall.

Like last week, KHS had no trouble getting off to a good start, as it found the end zone on its first five possessions. They did the same on their first six drives in a win over DeKalb on Sept. 28.

Quarterback Drew David and Balluff each had a game-high 75 yards on the ground and helped KHS to 238 rushing yards overall.

David finished the night 8-of-13 for 175 yards and three touchdowns with one interception.

Dylan Nauert’s 69 yards receiving led the team.

After the first YHS drive came up empty, Kaneland used six plays to go 62 yards, which ended on an 18-yard TD pass to Balluff in the flat on a crucial third-down play.

Kaneland was up 7-0 with 8:19 left in the first and never looked back.

“I saw the opening and took it,” Balluff said. “Our lineman are just amazing this year, it’s ridiculous.”

Another Yorkville dead-end drive had KHS set up shop at the Fox 41, where runs by Balluff and Nate Dyer set up a 12-yard TD pass to Nauert with 3:50 left in the first for a 13-0 lead.

A drive that spanned two quarters ended after nine plays with a six-yard score from Balluff, making it 20-0 with 8:40 left in the second quarter.

Yorkville found itself punting again, setting up a one-play drive that ended on a 60-yard catch and run TD for Nauert and a 27-0 edge with 3:45 to go in the first half.

Balluff intercepted a pass on defense allowing Kaneland to set up shop at the hosts’ 36. A run by David and pass to Balluff paved the way for Balluff to catch another touchdown in the open field for a 34-0 lead with 2:10 to go in the first half.

“We can score from the 20; we have a very powerful offense. Even at the 50, we can score quicker and score more often,” Balluff said.

KHS was up to old and beneficial tricks to begin the second half, as the opening six-play drive ended with a 31-yard TD run by Balluff with 9:33 to go, which made it 41-0.

The fourth quarter saw additional touchdowns on runs by Tyler Carlson and Isaac Swithers for the final margin.

KHS coach Tom Fedderly keeps seeing the troops improve week after winning week.

“The further we go in the season, the more meaning the games have,” Fedderly said. “We know we need to improve if we want to be a conference champ or be in a big game.”

Kaneland will try to handle Sycamore in Maple Park on Friday, Oct. 12.

A year ago saw the Knights take out Sycamore along Spartan Trail in a 35-21 game. Sycamore comes off a 26-14 win against the Rochelle Hubs and enters Friday with a 5-2 mark.

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