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Fall Sports - page 14

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.

KHS clears regional net, subdued at sectionals

in Featured/Volleyball by

Photo: Three Kaneland volleyball captains receive the Regional Plaque at Hampshire on Oct. 25: Jenny Lubic (left to right), Ashley Prost and Lauren Banbury.
Photo by Patti Wilk

Lady Knights dethrone Sycamore, defeated by R-B on Tuesday
by Mike Slodki
Kaneland—Volleyball came to its end for Kaneland High School on Tuesday night in Woodstock, Ill., but not before the postseason run had its share of highlights.

While KHS was ousted in the Marian Central Catholic Sectional by fellow Class 2A unit Richmond-Burton, the Kaneland program achieved a monumental Hampshire Regional championship win last Thursday against Sycamore.

The Knights had their work cut out for them on Thursday, battling not just Sycamore, but the ghosts of regionals past.

What occurred was an exorcizing and subsequwnt nabbing of the school’s first regional championship since 1991.

“I think we put everything we had out there and outhustled them as much as we could,” sophomore Ellie Dunn (four kills) said. “We ran for balls that I didn’t even think we could get sometimes.”

Midway through the first set saw the Lady Knights work out to a 15-9 lead, but the Debbie Klock-coached Lady Spartans closed within 15-12. Side outs were exchanged until a Lauren Banbury kill made it 18-14.

After Sycamore closed within 18-17, Side outs and errors played into the match with kill attempts often finding their way out of bounds. The Lady Spartans closed within 21-19, but kills by Lyndi Scholl (seven kills, six digs) and Banbury increased the lead to four. After a spike attempt went over the line, it was a Banbury kill that served as game point with the final six-point margin.

A tight second game saw a lead as big as six for KHS. A Keri Groen kill set the score at 19-17, with a Scholl kill increasing the lead to three.

The Lady Spartan lineup rallied to tie with an ace at 20-20, but a set into the net gave the Lady Knights the lead for good at 21-20. It was an exchange of Side outs that led to game point, with a bump that trailed off, serving as game point for the final two-point margin.

“They are a really good team, so I was expecting just craziness to come,” Banbury said. “I was giving everything I had on the court, and I think the team was, too.”

KHS coach Todd Weimer’s first regional title in his eighth season at the helm came as part of team play that was par for the course.

“I think it’s been a pretty terrific season. We’ve had some really good matches. I don’t know if this was our best match or not, and there’s always room for improvement. But this is the best effort I’ve seen from these girls,” Weimer said.

In Tuesday’s other sectional semi, Marian Central Catholic defeated Grayslake Central, 25-17, 25-9.

The Lady Knight program says goodbye to seniors Tucek, Rachael Clinton, Scholl, Groen, Banbury and Ashley Prost.

Soccer’s sectional dream stopped

in Boys Soccer/Featured by

Photo: Tyler Siebert put the Knights ahead 1-0 in the first half during the Class 2A Sterling sectional championship against East Moline United on Friday. Kaneland hung on for two overtimes but lost 3-2. File Photo

Knight’s furthest road ever blocked by East Moline U. after 2 OT
by Mike Slodki
Kaneland—Kaneland High School soccer was in definite unchartered territory this postseason.

The further out you go in unchartered territory, however, the more threats can cut you down.

Such was the case on Friday evening at the Class 2A Sterling Sectional, where the Knight attack was defeated in two overtimes by East Moline United, 3-2.

The Knights’ journey ended with a record of 16-4-2, thanks to the setback at the hands of the Panthers.

Kaneland had reached its first ever Sectional title match with a 1-0 win over Freeport on Oct. 24.

The Panthers met Arlington Heights, Ill., outfit St. Viator in the Hampshire Super-Sectional meeting on Tuesday.

Kaneland made it to the DeKalb Regional championship in 2011 before being eliminated by Marmion Academy, and was defeated in overtime by semifinal opponent Sterling in the Belvidere Sectional in 2010.

A Panther goal 93 seconds into the first overtime provided the final margin, and Kaneland was unable to match the output in the following 10-minute overtime.

The regulation scoring all occurred in the first half, as Tyler Siebert put one on the board five minutes, 24 seconds into action.

After EMU scored two goals, Alec Koczka scored with 5:01 remaining.

The Knights’ win over the Pretzel lineup was highlighted by a second-half goal from Alex Gil with 20:20 remaining in the contest.

“We had a very good run, and it was a shame it ended, but the boys worked hard all year,” KHS coach Scott Parillo said. “It is amazing we were able to accomplish all we did when we didn’t have a Saturday practice because of players having to work. That is the way it is; the economy has had an effect on us. I am so very proud of what we accomplished.”

With the loss, Kaneland says goodbye to a handful of seniors instrumental in the success garnered in 2012: Ryan Straughn, Cullen MacKenzie, Sam Kilgore, Marshall Farthing, Kushstrim Ismaili, Gil, Jason Biddle, Sam Rymarz, Ben Longson, Alonzo Dominguez, Diego Ochoa and Koczka.

The toughest path to State

in Girls Cross Country by

Loaded Sectional tests successful Lady Knight cross country team
by Mike Slodki
Kaneland—It seems like old times for the Lady Knight cross county squad, which is just fine.

Dealing with what many consider the toughest Class 2A Sectionals in the entire state, in the form of the Belvidere gathering, Kaneland’s roster qualified for the Class 2A State meet at Detweiller Park in Peoria, Ill. This is the second straight year the Lady Knights advanced to the State Finals.

The three-mile course in Boone County had Marengo take the ultimate crown with a 57-point total, followed by Crystal Lake Central at 76, Kaneland at 131, Vernon Hills at 166 and Grayslake Central at 173, to round out the qualifying teams. Prairie Ridge of Crystal Lake, Ill., missed the cut at 203 in the 21-team clash.

Marengo senior Katie Adams outran the field with a stellar time of 17 minutes, 23.2 seconds, but was followed closely by Kaneland’s own Victoria Clinton at 17:38.6.

Crystal Lake Central’s area standout Sami Staples took third at 17:49.5.

Kaneland’s top seven finished within a two minute, 27.4 second split, led by Clinton’s time.

Freshman Brianna Bower was second-best for the Lady Knights (10th place) with a time of 18:35.7.

Clinton and Bower took home all-Sectional honors with their efforts, and the freshman felt good in the new postseason setting.

“I just ran it the same way I always do,” Bower said. “I was a little nervous at first, but once the race started it was OK.”

Following nearby was senior Abby Dodis (33rd) at 19:20.4.

Sydney Strang (41st) ran the course in 19:30.6 for fourth-best on the squad, followed by Amanda Lesak (45th) at 19:37.2.

“Abby Dodis, Sydney Strang and Amanda Lesak ran their usual strong races to round out the top five,” KHS head coach Doug Ecker said.

Senior Maggie Brundige (50th) ran her last-ever sectional at 19:45.7, while Aislinn Lodwig (57th) rounded out the top seven at 20:06.

“Finishing third in the toughest 2A sectional in the state capped off a great year that saw the girls win the regional, finish second in the conference, and win two invitational championships,” Ecker said.

Kaneland will run at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 3, at Detweiller Park in Peoria, Ill.

BXC’s big day in Belvidere

in Boys Cross Country by

Boys running crew clinches 16th trip to State in 26 years
by Mike Slodki
Kaneland—Chilly weather and northern Illinois powerhouses did their collective best to stop Kaneland boys cross country.

But the Knight collective powered through to earn a State berth.

In the loaded Belvidere Sectional on Saturday, the Knights finished fifth overall with a point total of 174.

The Knights outlasted sixth-place Grayslake Central by 11 points for the final qualifying spot.

Belvidere North was crowned sectional champ with a 47 point output, while Dixon had 95 for second place. Deerfield had 108 for third, while Crystal Lake Central had 109 to fill out the top five spots in the 21-team gathering.

In 2011, the Knights took fourth at sectionals, while it was lone Knight Trevor Holm that qualified in 2010. KHS finished fifth in 2009.

The is the 16th time the Knights have qualified for State since 1986, and they have made the trip in four of the last five years.

Belvidere North speedster Garrett Lee finished first overall in his final sectional, completing the three-mile course in 14 minutes, 49 seconds.

Kaneland junior Kyle Carter was tops for his team with a time of 15:42.2 for 16th place, followed by senior counterpart Conor Johnson at 15:51.1 for 17th place.

“Our 1-2 punch of Carter and Johnson was great,” KHS coach Chad Clarey said. “We knew we needed to beat Vernon Hills and Grayslake Central, and they beat other top runners. Our three, four and five runners made a huge impact.”

Senior John Meisinger (39) was third for the KHS lineup at 16:20.3, followed by Luis Acosta (48) at 16:32.0.

“Senior John Meisenger saved his best race of the season for a course he races well on last fall,” Clarey said. “John beat important scoring runners from teams we needed to defeat in such a talented and loaded field.”

Junior Nathaniel Kucera (54) was fifth for the Knights with an effort of 16:41.9, and fellow senior Brandon Huber (56) took sixth at 16:43.6. In seventh for the Knights was Ryan Paulson (70) at 16:53.4.

“Luis Acosta and Nathaniel Kucera looked exceptionally strong through the mid-race checkpoints,” Clarey said. “Kucera cramped up a bit, fell back, then finished strong to complete our scoring.”

Clarey said it was his team’s pack-running mentality that led to the strong team finish.

“Our pack made the difference for us today, running right at 60 seconds,” he said. “Having our third to seventh runners just 33 seconds apart was an advantage for us; being able to see your own teammates throughout the race is such a big key for us.”

The State race takes place on Saturday, Nov. 3 at Detweiller Park in Peoria, Ill.

“We are looking forward to the opportunity to race without the burden of pressure (from having to qualify), set some new PR’s at Detweiller (Park),” and give ourselves a shot at bettering our 2011 finish,” Clarey said, referring to the team’s 15th-place mark in Class 2A last season.

NIB-12 champions

in Featured/Football by

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.

Back to the top

in Boys Soccer/Featured by

Photo: Kushstrim Ismaili tries to get control of the ball in the rain during Kaneland’s 5-1 playoff win against IMSA at Burlington on Oct. 17. Photo by John DiDonna

Soccer crew wins 2nd regional plaque in 3 seasons
by Mike Slodki
Kaneland—Saturday’s Class 2A Burlington Central Regional title match between No. 1 Kaneland and No. 2 Burlington Central was a tight affair between two teams playing with a well-disciplined edge.

While that can fill any accomplished team with some degree of pride, what really seals the deal is the hardware the Knights secured after a 2-1 win.

An initial two-goal lead held until the end, despite constant pressure from the host Rockets, and Kaneland came away with its second regional title in three seasons. The Knights last won a regional in 2010, but were defeated by Sterling at Belvidere High School in the sectional semifinal in a postseason that featured nine overtime frames.

Kaneland got to the regional promised land due to a 5-1 win over Illinois Math and Science Academy on Oct. 17.

Kaneland now takes on Freeport, which beat Belvidere on Saturday as part of the Belvidere Regional on Wednesday, Oct. 24.

The Knights (15-3-2) took it to the Rocket rivals (17-4-2) early with a booming rocket of a kick by Alex Gil with 19:20 remaining in the first half.

“We practice switching the field and going back and forth,” Gil said. “We go left and right, and I was able to get it in.”

The Rockets were barely able to catch their breath before Alec Koczka’s header in the same area where Gil’s goal ended up made it 2-0 with 18:05 to go.

Burlington Central kept pressing and ended up halving the deficit with a goal from Alan Camarena with 10 minutes left on the first-half clock.

The second half had the majority of the action around Kaneland’s goal and a final flurry was set away, volleyball style, by goalkeeper Marshall Farthing with :16 left.

“That was just a quick reaction I had,” Farthing said. “I didn’t know what else to do. It just came right in and I stuck my hands out.”

The Knights’ win over the Titans featured a 5-0 lead at halftime, thanks to goals from Tyler Siebert, Kushstrim Ismaili, a free kick by Sam Rymarz and two goals from Anthony Parillo.

The Knight-Pretzel encounter was scheduled for 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 24, in Sterling, with the winner facing either East Moline’s United Twp. or Rochelle in the final on Friday, Oct. 26, at 6:30 p.m.

Results of Wednesday’s contest were unavailable at press time.

Big win keeps Girls XC party going

in Featured/Girls Cross Country by

Effort of top 7 nabs 1st regional crown in 20 years
by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—If you don’t have totals worthy of a sectional, your season comes to an end in girls cross country.

Luckily, KHS won’t have to worry about that matter, as their 43-point total at their own regional on Saturday morning grabbed a first-place regional plaque.

The one-point win over Crystal Lake Central sends the Lady Knight roster to the Class 2A Belvidere Sectional along with Crystal Lake and Prairie Ridge, which amassed 80 points.

Kaneland had five of the top 15 runners to put the team over the top, most notably sophomore Victoria Clinton, who ran in 18 minutes, 5.7 seconds.

“It was an excellent race by the entire top seven and an overall team victory,” KHS coach Doug Ecker said.

Next for Kaneland was Brianna Bower, who continues to make waves as a freshman with a time of 19:33.8

“(Brianna) finished sixth as she continues her steady improvement with each race,” Ecker said.

Sydney Strang finished ninth with a time of 19:55.6, while the next KHS representative was senior Abby Dodis with a time of 20:16.3, good for 12th.

Senior teammate Amanda Lesak was 15th best in the field with a time of 20:27.

The upcoming Belvidere Sectional takes place on Saturday, Oct. 27, at 10 a.m. for the girls, along with eligible teams from the Antioch and Belvidere North Sectionals.

A year ago, Kaneland was the fourth-best roster to advance to State, thanks to a one-two punch from Clinton (18:28) and Dodis (18:52).

Strong end for KHS tennis

in Featured/Tennis by

2 entries represent Lady Knights program proudly
by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—No State medals were garnered, but the two separate Lady Knight entries that made the trip to the IHSA State meet at various northwest suburban tennis courts acclimated themselves well.

Kaneland High School had two entries head to State competition for the first time in school history, and was represented by No. 1 singles entry Sammie Schrepferman and No. 1 doubles tandem, Jelly Emmanouil and Madi Jurcenko.

Keisha Clousing of Wheaton-Warrenville South ultimately won the singles group, but Schrepferman had already made history by being the first Lady Knight singles player in history to make it to the late October dance.

The sophomore lost her two matches on Thursday, first to Adesuwa Osabuohien of Homewood-Flossmoor in a 6-1, 6-1 match, and finally to Oswego East athlete Jaiere Harlow by a tally of 6-4, 7-5 in the consolation bracket.

For the third year in a row, the Lady Knights had a Jurcenko in the State tourney, and the Emmanouil/Jurcenko crew beat Grace Alexander and Sam Diemer of Boylan Catholic High School by a final of 6-4, 6-0 in the opening round on Thursday.

The second round saw Kaneland’s duo beat the Whitney Young team of Syedah Cabell and Kendall Scruggs in a 7-6, 6-3 match.

The action picked up on Saturday after rain delays at Palatine High School, and the KHS duo took yet another match in the fourth round over Rachel and Rebecca Lewis of Danville by a final of 5-7, 7-6, 6-3.

The fifth round had Emmanouil and Jurcenko take a match over the Glenbrook South team of Martina Dragoytchev and Jessica Chepurda in an 8-5 single-setter, assuring a claim of a top-24 team.

The Lady Knight unit saw its season come to an end with a loss to New Trier’s Kirstie Woodbury and Cammy Frei by an 8-3 final that would have sent Kaneland’s team to a top-16 berth.

KHS coach Tim Larsen was glad that the talent on paper translated to actual court time.

“The girls and I knew that we had talent on the team, but didn’t know what we were capable of in the State tournament,” Larsen said. “Now we know. Having done that well as sophomores isn’t going to be a ‘finish line’ mentality at all. I can tell you for sure that Sammie has seen what it takes to have success in that tournament, and she will be more determined than ever to do so next year. And for Madi and Jelly, they surpassed their own goals for this year’s tournament. That was because the tournament was still somewhat of an unknown to us. Next year, we’ll be able to set challenging, realistic goals because of this year’s experience.”

With the end of the productive season, Kaneland tennis says goodbye to seniors Jenna Bicos, Sara Grams, Aly Harner, Brooke Harner, Cara Lenhardt, Danielle McCormack, Abby Meyer and Jessica Woodward.

Good enough

in Boys Cross Country/Featured by

Boys XC punches Sectional ticket with 2nd-place finish
by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—If it weren’t for Crystal Lake Central, Kaneland High School boys cross country would have even more to celebrate.

As it stands, celebrating a berth at the Belvidere Sectional is cause enough.

With a pack separated by 46 seconds, the Knight lineup took second at the Class 2A Kaneland Regional on Saturday, thanks to a 69 point total.

Crystal Lake finished with 31 points, while Sycamore had 96 points to be the third and last unit to travel to the Sectional. The Spartans edged Prairie Ridge by one point.

Burlington Central, Woodstock, Hampshire and Rochelle rounded out the eight-team field.

“The team had a better overall performance than the conference meet,” KHS coach Chad Clarey said. “We have some mental hurdles to clear, but this group can respond quickly with great senior leadership.”

Crystal Lake senior Alex Baker was the first of three straight teammates to top the race, and finished with a leading time of 15 minutes, 37.1 seconds.

Kaneland’s top runner was senior leader Conor Johnson, who finished sixth with a time of 16:36.9.

Following closely was junior teammate Kyle Carter, who finished with a time of 16:37.2.

In 13th place was Knight junior Nathaniel Kucera, who finished with an effort of 16:56.5.

Junior Luis Acosta was fourth-best for the Kaneland lineup in 20th place overall at 17:14.4, and Brandon Huber was 23rd with a time of 17:24.0.

“We know the rigors of our home course, and we needed to get a solid race in and finish the day healthy,” Clarey said.

The boys race begins at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 27, with successful teams from the Antioch and Belvidere North Regionals.

Volleyball passes 1st playoff test

in Featured/Volleyball by

Photo: Keri Groen pushes the ball past Geneva defenders uring Kaneland’s Spikefest held at Kaneland Harter Middle School on Saturday. Photo by Patti Wilk

Top-seed Lady Knights sweep Green Wave at Hampshire
by Mike Slodki
Kaneland—Tuesday’s playoff opener got rid of the bad taste of last year’s crushing opening defeat pretty well.

Almost a year to the day of a three-game downer at the hands of Glenbard South to end the 2011 season, mistakes were curbed and the aggressive tone worked in a 25-18, 25-18 win over St. Edward of Elgin on Tuesday at the Class 3A Hampshire Regional.

The win over the No. 5 seed Green Wave paves the way for a regional winner-take-all against the third-seed Sycamore Lady Spartans, which beat No. 2 Burlington Central after Kaneland’s victory by a 25-23, 25-21 clip.

“Postseason has not been nice to us, and we’ve faced some tough opponents,” KHS coach Todd Weimer said. “We were determined and we were focused, and we wanted to come out and play the best we could.”

KHS is now 22-12 for the year.

St. Edward fell victim to its share of errors in the first game on Tuesday, and Kaneland took advantage with a 15-5 lead. The Green Wave closed it to 19-12 before an Ellie Dunn kill. After seeing the margin close to 20-15, a block by Keri Groen, a pass over the net by Jenny Lubic and a Lyndi Scholl kill helped extend the margin to 24-16. An attempted block hit the net for game point at 24-18.

“The most important thing that we did was ball control,” libero Shayna Tucek said. “Every player focused on what they had to do, and they did it.”

St. Edward regained some footing and was ahead as late as 14-13 in the second game.

A Lauren Banbury kill gave the Lady Knights a lead for good at 16-15. After Kaneland put the pressure on, St. Edward was forced to regroup in a time out at 22-16.

Up 22-17, Groen stuck a kill down the St. Edward lineup, and several exchanges later, had another kill followed by a Scholl game point for the match win.

“It’s honestly the biggest weight lifted off,” Scholl said. “It’s an amazing feeling knowing that we can play Thursday and the season isn’t over. We still have a chance.”

Thursday’s loss to the visiting Lady Foxes was despite the best efforts of Lubic and Ashley Prost, who had a combined 24 assists. The lower level games all went Kaneland’s way.

At SpikeFest, no team performed better except the champion Geneva Lady Vikings. Riverside-Brookfield took third, followed by Metea Valley, Yorkville and Hampshire.

Kaneland’s 4-1 mark featured wins over Hampshire (25-16, 25-19), R-B (27-25, 27-25), Metea Valley (25-17, 20-25, 15-9) and Yorkville (25-14, 25-14).

The loss against Geneva was a 25-19, 25-22 result.

By virtue of their exceptional play, Dunn and Banbury of Kaneland earned all-tournament nods.

Dunn had 18 aces, three kills and eight blocks, while teammate Banbury had 13 kills and four blocks.

Kaneland is set to play in the Hampshire Regional final on Thursday, Oct. 25, at 6 p.m.

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.

KHS tennis trio heads to State

in Featured/Tennis by

Photo: Sammie Schrepferman

Schrepferman, Emmanouil, Jurcenko set school record
by Mike Slodki
Kaneland—St. Charles East High School was the site of Saturday’s IHSA Tennis Sectional, and also the site of some happy Lady Knight athletes.

No. 1 singles competitor Sammie Schrepferman became the first-ever singles qualifier in KHS history with a fourth-place finish at the sectional. No. 1 doubles unit Jelly Emmanouil and Madi Jurcenko finished third to qualify for the big dance.

This marks the third consecutive year Kaneland tennis sends athletes to state.

In 2010, Lindsay Jurcenko and Amelia Napiorkowski qualified as a doubles team, and Napiorkowski did the same with Madi Jurcenko in 2011.

As a team, Kaneland finished fifth with 13 points in the 10-team sectional.

KHS coach Tim Larsen knew his crew had the intangibles to cause a racket.

“They reacted well to whatever was going on on the court,” Larsen said. “All three of them are smart tennis players. They have a lot of talent, and they have a lot of really good shots.”

Bartlett (20), Geneva (17), St. Charles East (14) and Wheaton Academy (14) were the only schools that outpaced KHS.

Schrepferman earned a first-round bye, and earned straight set wins in her first two matches before losing the third to Jennifer Gates of Bartlett. In the battle for third place, the sophomore dropped a 6-2, 6-1 match to Geneva’s Kirby Einck.

“At the beginning of the year, I didn’t think I was going to be able to make it,” Schrepferman said. “I started off the year a little bumpy. It was the middle of the year where I told myself to keep going and if I wanted to go I had to push myself harder.”

Emmanouil/Jurcenko swept their first two matches before getting taken to three sets in a loss to Bartlett’s Jitsupa Sirinit and Gabby Gregorio.

The Lady Knight duo recovered to take third place from Saints duo Haydyn Jones and Kelsie Roberton.

“We had a pretty good seed in the beginning,” Emmanouil said. “We were pretty comfortable the first two matches and then up against Bartlett, it was pretty tough.”

Jurcenko feels that the gameplan shouldn’t change that much headed into the elite gathering.

“The main goal is to make it to State. It would be awesome to win. You kind of just go and see how you do,” Jurcenko said.”

The finals take place from Thursday, Oct. 18, to Saturday, Oct. 20. Tournament central is located at Buffalo Grove High School.

Knights emerge victor in rivalry contest

in Boys Soccer/Featured by

Photo: Kaneland goal keeper Marshall Farthing puts the ball in play during the first half of the varsity boy’s 1-0 win at Sycamore on Oct. 11. It was the team’s regular season finale. The Knights (13-3-2, 7-2-1 Northern Illinois Big 12 East) finished second to DeKalb in the conference. Photo by John DiDonna

by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—Nothing like a tight and close match to show what you’re made of.

It looks as if Kaneland High School soccer is made of pretty strong material.

The lone match this week occurred in Sycamore, with the Knights facing off against their conference rivals, the Spartans, on Thursday.

With one goal in the second half, the Knights were lifted to a 1-0 win over the host Sycamore squad, raising their record to an exemplary 13-3-2 mark at the end of the regular season.

The Knights also boast a 7-2-1 record in Northern Illinois Big XII Conference play, good for second.

All that was needed was a goal from Arsim Azemi on an assist from Kushstrim Ismaili with 17:24 remaining in the contest to secure a shutout win.

Meanwhile, the Kaneland sophomores came away with a 5-0 win over the Spartans, and the freshmen won 4-0.

Up ahead for the No. 1 Knights is the first test of the Class 2A Burlington Central Regional, a meeting with No. 4 IMSA on Wednesday, Oct. 20, at 5 p.m.

“We have had a good season,” KHS coach Scott Parillo said. “I hope the team can go a little farther. We will see what happens. We always thought we would have a nice record because of the talent we had, but there are so many things that can change that, injuries, grades, etc. You never really know. We have been fortunate that we have been able to do as well as we have this year.”

The winner of the KHS-Titans match faces either No. 2 BC or No. 3 Hampshire on Saturday, Oct. 20, at 11 a.m.

A year ago, Kaneland used an Alex Gil goal to beat DeKalb in the regional semis before losing to Marmion Academy in the final.

Weekend in Normal caps extraordinary golf campaign

in Golf by

Rain clips State tourney, but KHS fights hard in first trip since ’95
by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—It’ll be a trip to remember for Kaneland High School golf.

The Knight group, making its first trip to the big gathering in 17 years, pushed its way to 10th place overall after one day of Class 2A competition at Weibring Golf Club in Bloomington, Ill.

After three holes on Saturday, lightning paused play and after two hours of stoppage, the course was ruled unplayable, cementing the totals.

Kaneland’s 341 score was good for 10th overall, just two strokes behind local rival Wheaton Academy.

Belleville’s Althoff Catholic was first in a tiebreaker over Normal U-High with 321. Washington was third with 323.

Glenbard South took sixth with 327, while fellow Northern Illinois Big XII Conference school Ottawa finished eight with a 332 tally.

Normal U-High’s Adam Baracani was the top individual with a score of 72.

Leading the way for KHS was junior Matt Yonkovich with 83, good for a 42nd place tie.

Teammates Connor Williams and Luke Kreiter shot 85 for 55th place overall.

Brody Kuhar shot an 88th for 74th place, while Sean Glennon shot a 92 for 90th place.

Dan Miller shot 95 for 105th place.

Kreiter would have liked to get out there for more action, but is richer for the experience.

“Our first three holes on the second day were pretty good and we were getting better,” Kreiter said. “The first day, we were off to some bad shots. The front nine and back nine were about the same for me.”

For Kaneland, the 2012 season will stick out for those who are returning, and those that have swung their last driver for the Knights, like Kreiter.

“We put in a lot of work this year, guys like Glennon and Yonkovich and Kuhar. It was great to see and we’ve come a long way. We believed in ourselves this year,” Kreiter said.

The golf program and eighth-year coach Mark Meyer say goodbye to Glennon, Kreiter, Stephen McCracken, Miller and Williams.

Kaneland girls excel in wet conditions

in Featured/Girls Cross Country by

Photo: The Kaneland girls pack it up at the beginning of the NIB XII meet in Peru, Ill. Saturday. Photo courtesy of Yorkvilletrackandfield.com

L-P site of admirable totals for NIB-12 meet
by Mike Slodki
Kaneland—Running conditions at Baker Lake Park in Peru, Ill., were interesting, to say the least.

Saturday saw non-stop rain of various impacts, but that didn’t seem to slow down the Lady Knight attack against the best the Northern Illinois Big XII Conference had to offer.

Yorkville outpaced the other teams with a 26-point total, followed by KHS at 65.

DeKalb (98), Geneseo (129), Sycamore (129) and Dixon (145) rounded out the top half of the conference.

Seven-through-12 was made up of LaSalle-Peru, Rochelle, Sterling, Ottawa, Morris and Streator.

Kaneland varsity runners had an average time of 18 minutes, 58.5 seconds, with a pack separation of 1:09.6

DeKalb junior Kelsey Schrader took the race mantle with a time of 17:30.2, followed by Yorkville freshman Skyler Bollinger at 17:57.6, but Kaneland sophomore Victoria Clinton continued her torrid stretch with a time of 18:13.2.

Clinton felt the conditions didn’t hinder her day as much as they could have.

“It was really rainy, and it made your body cold,” Clinton said. “It made it hard to move first, but it made it fun. Now I have to try to stay focused and stay consistent through each mile.”

Freshman Brianna Bower was next for KHS in eighth place by finishing the course in 18:40.9 fashion.

Senior Abby Dodis crossed the line next for the Lady Knights, thanks to an effort that took 19:15.4.

Junior Sydney Strang was 18th overall with a time of 19:20.5, and continues to her work her way back from a bout with pneumonia weeks ago.

“The rain made it a lot more intense and a lot more fun, too,” Strang said. “You never really want to miss a meet and sit out.”

Senior Amanda Lesak supported the KHS total with a time of 19:22.7 for 21st place, rounding out the Lady Knight top five.

The next challenge for girls cross country is the most important of the 2012 campaign, with the Class 2A Regional hosted by Kaneland at Elburn Forest Preserve on Saturday, Oct. 20.

The other teams participating in the regional are Burlington Central, Crystal Lake Central, Prairie Ridge, Hampshire, Rochelle, Sycamore and Woodstock.

Advancing teams head to the Belvidere Sectional on Saturday, Oct. 27.

4-place output for KHS boys at NIB-12

in Boys Cross Country/Featured by

Photo: Conor Johnson competes at the NIB XII meet in Peru, Ill. Saturday. Photo courtesy of Yorkvilletrackandfield.com

Carter leads Knights in crowded field
by Mike Slodki
Kaneland—”Rain, rain, go away” is the usual saying.

The Knights just had to go forward in unusual weather.

Despite the outdoors releasing everything from a strong drizzle to a steady downpour, the Northern Illinois Big XII meet at Baker Lake in Peru, Ill., still went on and Kaneland ended with a fourth-place honor.

Yorkville finished its sweep of the NIB-12 with 27 points, followed by Dixon’s 59 and DeKalb’s 80.

Kaneland’s 118 bested Sycamore (128) and Geneseo (134).

Sterling, Morris, Ottawa, L-P, Streator and Rochelle filled the bottom-half slots.

Yorkville sophomore Jake Hoffert was tops with a 15 minute, 14.8 second race, 2.1 seconds over DeKalb’s Mark Dubrick.

Kaneland’s Kyle Carter was tops for his team with a time of 15:54.2.

Senior Conor Johnson was 23rd at 16:18.2.

“It’s always a weird meet,” Johnson said. “It seems we’re a little flat when we come here, but we’ll get back in the groove this week.”

Senior John Meisinger was 27th overall at 16:28.3, followed by junior Nathaniel Kucera in 28th at 16:35.8, and junior Brandon Huber in 29th at 16:38.9 to round out the Knight top five.

Kaneland’s Brad Kigyos didn’t mind the torrential rainfall.

“It kind of makes it fun,” Kigyos said. “It makes the time pass a lot easier. When you’re out there, it goes pretty quick.”

Kaneland prepares for the Class 2A Kaneland Regional in Elburn on Saturday, Oct. 20.

Also scheduled for the regional are Burlington Central, Crystal Lake Central, Prairie Ridge, Hampshire, Rochelle, Sycamore and Woodstock.

Advancing teams head to the Belvidere Sectional on Saturday, Oct. 27.

Volleyball navigates homestretch

in Volleyball by

by Mike Slodki
Kaneland—What was automatic for Sycamore in the past is anything but in the present.

But on Thursday, the Lady Knight contingent took the attack to the host Lady Spartans only to come away with a three-game loss: 23-25, 25-21, 25-18.

In Maple Park against the visiting Rochelle Lady Hubs, the Lady Knights won 25-16, 25-14.

With just one weekend left before the grueling Class 3A Regional setting, the Lady Knights are now 16-10, with a 4-4 tally in the Northern Illinois Big XII swing of things.

The Lady Knights saw a lift against Sycamore from assets Emily Laudont’s eight kills and eight digs, Lyndi Scholl’s seven kills and 22 digs, and Shayna Tucek’s 30 digs.

In other levels of KHS-SHS volleyball, the sophomores lost 25-23, 25-21, the freshman “A” team lost 25-16, 25-23, and the freshman “B” side lost 25-21, 25-14.

Against the Lady Hubs, coach Todd Weimer saw a group rallying.

“It was a slow start but we pulled away, lots of good defense, blocking and digging. Serve-receive was key tonight as well, we sided-out very well,” Weimer said.

On Thursday, Oct. 18, the Lady Knights swing by Game Farm Road to battle the host Yorkville Lady Foxes.

Saturday, Oct. 20, brings the usual end-of-season Spikefest to the East Gym at Kaneland, and the Class 3A Hampshire Regional on Tuesday, Oct. 23, at 6 p.m. brings a challenge in the form of either No. 4 Genoa-Kingston or No. 5 St. Edward of Elgin.

If the No. 1 seed Lady Knights conquer the initial challenge, either Burlington Central, Sycamore or Hampshire awaits in the regional championship on Thursday, Oct. 25, en route to the Marian Central Catholic Sectional.

A year ago, Kaneland fell short in the St. Francis Regional in a three-game loss to famed rival Glenbard South in the opening match.

The road to the State Championships begins

in Boys Cross Country/Girls Cross Country by

by Skip Stolley,
Chairman, Chicago Area Track & Field Organizing Committee, Inc.

ELBURN—This Saturday, Kaneland High School will host the Class AA IHSA Regional Championship at Elburn Woods.

The girls’ three-mile race will start at 10 a.m., and the boys’ race will step off at 11 a.m. It will be one of 45 qualifying meets for the 2012 Illinois State Cross Country Championships being held statewide this weekend at the A, AA, and AAA divisions.

In each division, the top seven teams, and top five individual finishers from non-qualifying teams, will advance from the regional to the sectional championships next weekend, Oct. 27. The top five teams and top 10 individual finishers from non-qualifying teams from the state’s five AA sectional meets will advance to the State Championships at Peoria’s Detweiler Park on Nov. 3.

The Kaneland boys are led by junior Kyle Carter, who has been a top 10 finisher individually in every meet this fall, including those dominated by ranked 3A teams. Behind him, their chase pack has been led by senior Conor Johnson, who has had a breakthrough season in leading the Knights’ pack to running closer to Carter meet by meet, week by week.

On the girls side, another underclassman, sophomore Victoria Clinton, has led the Lady Knights this season. She has won five races this fall and placed no worse than third in invitational meets featuring as many as 23 teams, earning her designation as a “National Elite” runner by ESPN.com. Behind Clinton, freshman Briana Bower has emerged as the Lady Knights’ No. 2 runner and seniors Amanda Lesak, Abby Dodis and Maggie Brundige have been running within an arm’s length of one another as their No. 3, 4 and 5 finishers.

Competing with Kaneland in the Elburn Woods Regional this Saturday will be Burlington Central, Crystal Lake Central, Prairie Ridge, Hampshire, Rochelle, Sycamore and Woodstock high schools. Advancing from the eight-team regional on their home course should be no problem for either Kaneland team. However, at the Belvidere North Sectional Meet, to which they will advance the following weekend, both the boys’ and girls’ 21-team fields will showcase five of the state’s top 11 ranked 2A teams, and seven of the top 23, all vying for one of just five state-qualifying births.

Elburn Woods has only enough parking to accommodate participating teams and the meet staff, so spectators are to park at Kaneland High School, where three free shuttle buses will ferry them every 10 minutes to the Forest Preserve, which is only about five minutes away.

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