Rock Island, ILL.—According to Augustana College’s Associate Director of Athletics Dave Wrath, Kaneland graduate and Augustana Junior Eric Dratnol “might have the inside track for the center position” as the Vikings set their rosters for the upcoming football campaign.
The team is trying to rebound from a difficult 2011 season.
When head coach Rob Cushman was asked to assess the Augustana football team’s chances for the 2012 season, he got right to the point.
“Without question we have a lot of change from a year ago,” said Cushman, whose team went 2-8 overall and 2-5 in the College Conference of Illinois & Wisconsin in his first year at the Vikings’ helm. “It starts with a coaching staff that lost some very valuable and longtime members, and it continues with the exciting plans for a new stadium and the fact that we will be playing on a new turf this fall. There is an excitement amongst our players as we start the year. Even with all the changes that have and will happen, this program still has the same goals as always. We want to contend for a conference title and be a factor in the national picture.”
What happened in 2011 was a plethora of games that were decided in the last minutes of games. Of the eight losses, five were decided by less than eight points, and the Vikings trailed CCIW champion North Central on the road by just 10-3 before the Cardinals put up two late scores in the final minutes.
“I have been coaching 30-plus years and I don’t think I have ever seen a season like that,” Cushman said. “We all know that the ball bounces in funny ways, but it sure didn’t bounce our way last year. That was quite a learning experience for all of us, and I think we learned from it.”
The Vikings kick off their season Sept. 1 when they travel to the University of Dubuque.
The seventh annual Kaneland High School Alumni soccer game was held this past Saturday at the high school’s varsity soccer field. Many soccer alumni and some current players enjoyed a friendly game on a beautiful summer evening. Any current or former Kaneland soccer players interested in playing in next year’s game and are not already on the contact list should call Bill Durrenberger at (630) 466-9085.
Kaneland Almuni White team (above) members included Nick Williams (back, left to right), Matt VanderSande, Eric Griesinger, Chris Feldott and Ryan Straughn. Santiago Tovar (front, left to right), Kevin Durrenberger, player/coach Max Andrews, Evelio Blanco and Scott Thompson. Courtesy Photo
Kaneland Almuni Blue team members included Josh Williams (back, left to right), Spencer Johnson, Josh Hill, Cooper Andrews, Mike Giese and coach Joe Garlinsky. Joe Garlinsky (front, left to right), Kaitlin Roy, Emily Heimerdinger, Samantha Wantuch and Justin Garlinsky. Courtesy Photo
Storied KHS golfer sharpened skills at Illinois Women’s Open by Mike Slodki
ELBURN—For those that missed last week’s golfing performance from Sugar Grove resident and former Kaneland golfer Hayley Guyton, she laughed while offering, “You didn’t miss much.”
That’s just the level of standard that the current Illinois State University women’s golfer and four-time IHSA State qualifier holds herself.
Guyton still managed to finish 39th at the July 25-27 2012 Phil Kosin Illinois Women’s Open at Mistwood Golf Club in Romeoville, Ill. The pool of nearly 100 competitors was mostly concentrated in the Midwest.
“It was great to see people from the college meets there, and it’s good to compete against them in the summer,” Guyton said. “It’s fun to get to compare where we’ve been.”
Guyton managed to hold her own with scores of 76, 80 and 82.
Grosse Pointe Shores, Mich., native Samantha Troyanovich took the open with a total tally of 215.
Guyton, who finished in second place at the 2009 IHSA State meet after a playoff, competes at around five tournaments a summer including a 2012 Naperville Women’s City Championship-best 76 back in June, when she’s not suiting up in the Bloomington-Normal, Ill. area for the Lady Redbirds.
But even Guyton can get rattled occasionally, which she admitted occurred in her first collegiate year.
“The level of competition and ability against the other teams was really high and you found yourself having to play differently, but I am golfing with a lot more confidence now,” Guyton said.
As part of a Redbirds squad that missed a Missouri Valley Conference crown by three strokes, Guyton is eager to show her skills with a year of collegiate play under her belt for a roster with multiple conference titles.
“I love getting out and playing all the courses, like the one at Missouri. I’m playing in the evenings and at the course all weekend, and I’m up for it and really excited. It didn’t sit well with us when we lost,” Guyton said.
Sixth-year ISU coach Darby Sligh has offered valuable help with Guyton’s game as it continues to transition.
“My coach really helped me, and now I’m really practicing with more confidence,” Guyton said. “I’m lacing the ball more.”
Guyton and the rest of the Redbird crew will putt against the field at its very own Redbird Invitational at Weibring Golf Club at Illinois State University in Normal, Ill., on Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 8-9. ISU also treks to the island of Oahu in March 2013 for the Dr. Donnis Thompson Invitational.
Wherever the course, Guyton is using the action locally to up her golf game.
by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—Football schedules for the upcoming 2012 season were released by the Illinois High School Association on Thursday, allowing the Kaneland program to see who it would kick off against—and hopefully spend much time in the endzone against, as well.
Two new opponents grace the schedule in what shapes up to be coach Tom Fedderly’s sixth year on the sidelines.
Kaneland tries to get back to similar heights and beyond, much like the 12-1 2010 and 2011 campaigns that both ended with Class 5A semifinal losses to Montini Catholic of Lombard.
It’s a potentially interesting opening stretch for KHS, which has four of its first five games on the road.
The Knights, who have now won 39 out of 55 games in the last five years, begin the 2012 season against the familiar non-conference opponents of Brooks Prep of Chicago and Huntley.
Exchanging sites this upcoming year, Kaneland will trek to Chicago to face the host Eagles, in a stadium to be determined. Brooks played several home games at Gately Stadium near 103rd and Cottage Grove. The game takes place on Saturday, Aug. 25, at 4 p.m. and marks the first Saturday regular season skirmish for the Knights since traveling to DeKalb High School in October 2009.
The trip to Huntley in week two takes place on Friday, Aug. 31. Huntley is the largest school Kaneland faces in the regular season, with enrollment of 2,383 students.
Then, the Northern Illinois Big XII crossover slate kicks into high gear with the home opener against Sterling on Friday, Sept. 7. The Knights and Golden Warriors’ previous two matchups occurred in playoff settings in 2006 and 2008.
Kaneland travels to Streator on Friday, Sept. 14. The Bulldogs have the smallest enrollment of a KHS opponent this year, with 876 students.
The two new West division opponents provide a switch from facing Dixon and LaSalle-Peru in the first two years of the still-new conference.
The NIB-12 stretch begins in earnest for the Knights on Friday, Sept. 21, in Rochelle, where the Knights emerged with a Class 5A quarterfinal win last November. Kaneland will have traveled to the land of the Hubs three of the last four times in the rivalry.
The Knights then host the DeKalb Barbs on Friday, Sept. 30, who have never dethroned the Knights football program since they have shared a conference. Kaneland came away with a 59-38 win on the new DeKalb grounds back in September, after falling behind by 17 points in the third quarter.
Kaneland then travels to Yorkville to face the Foxes, who play year two under famed area coach Karl Hoinkes, on Friday, Oct. 5.
The final two regular season encounters take place at Peterson Field in mid-October.
Sycamore comes to town looking for its first regular season win against Kaneland since 2007, but having a playoff win under its belt three years ago. The game is set for Friday, Oct. 12.
Finally, the Knights host Morris on Friday, Oct. 19.
All Friday games kick off at 7:30 p.m., with the exception of the Rochelle matchup.
Hayley Guyton wields the first-place hardware from the 2012 Women’s City Championship at Naperbrook Golf Course on June 20. The current ISU Lady Redbird and former Lady Knight shot a gross score of 76. Courtesy of Naperville Park District
The five-day Kaneland Youth Football League Skillz and Drillz camp concluded on Friday, with 138 kids participating. Members of the Northern Illinois University Huskies conducted drills on the final day. (Right) RB Akeem Daniels moves around a swarm. (Below) LB and Marmion alum Bobby Winkel answers questions. Photos by Mike Slodki
Youngsters get boost on gridiron from NIU on camp’s final day by Mike Slodki
SUGAR GROVE—Steamy temperatures on the grounds of Kaneland Harter Middle School in Sugar Grove made for ideal football conditions.
Just ask the 138 kids participating in the Kaneland Youth Football League (KYFL), as well as the current version of the Northern Illinois University Huskies football squad.
The five-day camp came to an end on Friday with Huskies and possible future Knights scrimmaging against each other, after going over fundamentals throughout the week.
Kaneland Youth Football League camp organizer Tim Betustak was pleased with how the events unfolded and the enthusiasm put into it, with help from Kaneland-area, Marmion and NIU personnel.
“It’s a good mix of guys helping out, and was really a wonderful time,” Betustak said. “It was a great turnout, and the kids did well. They learned fundamentals and had fun.”
The final day of the Skillz and Drillz camp featured 20 Huskies relaying what they knew to the younger set, ages 7 to 11.
“This was fun today,” NIU quarterback and Mt. Carmel grad Jordan Walsh said. “We wanted the kids to have fun and give them a little coaching. You can never know too much about football.”
Betustak, who also took questions from the campers on the final day with players like Northern Illinois’ Bobby Winkel, felt the volunteer time and pedigree made for a successful camp.
“The thing that helped this week was guys going into every level of football. It was a good mix, and the kids can see what these guys experience now,” Betustak said.
It’s experience with the 2012 camp that could pave the way for Betustak, along with Jason Born, Gary Bell, Matt Hahn, Jeremy Cannavan, Ron Hain and countless others from the KYFL body to host a 2013 camp.
Also helping out was a talent who is no stranger to Kaneland-area football: Jody Henningson, who took snaps as the starting quarterback in 2007 and returns to Bemidji State University in Minnesota as a wideout in 2012.
“This is my first time with the kids, and they were a little starstruck today at first, but they had a lot of fun. We were teaching them fundamentals, and this is a great age to learn the basics.”
Kaneland Youth Football League can be reached at KYFL.com.
by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—Based on the last two football seasons, the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater football program can be glad they’ve added a solid piece to its receiving core.
In February, Sean Carter, wideout and track weapon for Kaneland High School, committed to the Division III program.
Carter was a deep threat for a Kaneland squad for the last two undefeated seasons of KHS football—a team that has advanced to the Class 5A quarterfinals in consecutive years.
“Knowing all your accomplishments mean something and that you can continue to play after getting used to doing that for so many years,” Carter said on Tuesday. “It takes a lot of pressure off finally having that decision made.”
An all-conference player, Carter hopes to help a Warhawks squad that ran roughshod over the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference on its way to its fourth Division III championship in five years.
“Last year, we had a lot of big weapons. This year, Quinn (Buschbacher) and I were the seniors. It was a position we weren’t in the year before, and we were big targets,” Carter said. “Just being a big target gets you into a mindset.”
Carter was debating Wisconsin-Platteville, Minnesota State-Moorhead and St. Joseph’s (Ind.) before making his decision.
Teammate Buschbacher committed to the University of Wisconsin-Platteville.
The 1979 Girls Basketball was inducted into the Hall of Fame on Friday evening. Coach Rick Schairer (left to right), Cathy (Thompson) Bluma, Kathy (Turk) Claesson and Jeanette Decker. Not pictured were Kathy Brandt, Lorna Schlechte, Diane Beebe, Margie White, Betsy Beyer, Kim Keller, Christa McLeland, Lisa Underwood, Missy Olmstead, Nancy Fedderson, Raquel Slay, Margaret Berry, Martha Weydert, Lea Ann Machias, Marcia Withey, Paula Beyer, Brenda Miller, Tina Perry, Susan Baldridge and Dede Sanchez. Photo by Patti Wilk
The 1977 Girls Volleyball team was inducted during halftime of the varsity girl’s basketball game on Feb. 10. Kathy (Turk) Claesson (left to right), Coach Judy Hulka, and Colleen (Hanson) Peto.Not pictured were Sue Ott, Cari Claesson, Margie White, Sarah Anderson, Julie Fabrizius, Lorna Schlechte, Marcia Davids, Cathy Hanson and Diane Beebe.
Photo: Quinn Buschbacher hopes to offer the Kaneland touch when he suits up for University of Wisconsin-Platteville in 2012. File Photo
by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—When finally having made his college commitment choice, Kaneland senior football standout Quinn Buschbacher must have felt like he had an entire open field after a bubble screen.
“People said once you make that choice, the pressure just evaporates,” Buschbacher said on Tuesday. “They weren’t lying.”
Buschbacher, recipient of many Kaneland touchdown passes and all-around offensive threat to score, made the choice to bring his talents to the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, former preseason home to the Chicago Bears.
“I have speed and I think I have something to offer the program, and kickoff and punt returns are something I’d like to pursue, but they want me at slot right now,” Buschbacher said.
Platteville is also the football home of ex-Knight Ryley Bailey, two years Buschbacher’s senior.
“I’ve talked to Ryley a lot, and stayed with him when I visited the campus. He told me a little of what to expect and mainly told me to work hard,” Buschbacher said.
Buschbacher, the Northern Illinois Big XII offensive MVP in 2011, believes KHS sets him up for future success.
“Kaneland has so many options and we’re very versatile. The coaching staff helped me a lot with catching the ball and getting off jams,” Buschbacher said.
The Sugar Grove resident said he could pursue a business major once at Wisconsin-Platteville.
INDIANAPOLIS—In a continued emphasis on improving sportsmanship, the “soft red” has been eliminated in high school soccer.
Effective with the 2012-13 season, a second yellow card not only will disqualify a player, but the team will not be permitted to substitute for the disqualified player. Previously, a team was permitted to replace a player who had received a second yellow card.
This significant change was one of three rules revisions passed by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Soccer Rules Committee at its Jan. 23-25 meeting in Indianapolis. These changes were subsequently approved by the NFHS Board of Directors.
Another change in Rule 12-8-1f now will disqualify a player who deliberately handles a ball in his/her own penalty area to prevent it from going in the goal only when the attempt to deny the goal is successful. If a goal is scored, the penalty is now a caution. The other change approved by the committee involves the taking of a penalty kick. If some unusual situation occurs after the penalty kick is properly taken and before the ball is played or touched by another player, or before the ball hits the goalpost or crossbar, which necessitates a temporary suspension in play, the penalty kick shall be retaken.
by Mike Slodki
DEKALB—Former Kaneland High athletic standout P.J. Fleck’s return to the pastures of Northern Illinois University football was the very definition of short-lived.
After the introduction of Fleck on Thursday as the Huskies’ new offensive coordinator, the Sugar Grove native resigned the position, according to a statement released by NIU football and head coach Dave Doeren on Friday.
“P.J. called today and said he does not feel he’s ready to be an offensive coordinator. It’s unfortunate, but what’s best for our program is to move in a different direction and that’s what I’m going to do,” Doeren said.
According to the release, Doeren said he has already spoken to several candidates and is confident he will have a replacement in place soon for Fleck.
“Everything happens for a reason and the result of this will make NIU Football even better,” Doeren said.
Fleck was originally hired as a replacement for former OC Matt Canada, who left to take the same job for the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Fleck joined Rutgers in 2010 after coaching wide recievers at NIU from 2007-2009 under coaches Joe Novak and Jerry Kill.
Rutgers did not disclose when Fleck’s last day for the football program took place.
Fleck’s head coach on the Rutgers University staff, Greg Schiano, was introduced as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ new head coach on Jan. 27.
Fleck starred for a 10-win Huskies team in 2003, and played for the San Francisco 49ers in 2004.
His “Live Your Dream” football camp took place at KHS.
P.J. Fleck also served as graduate assistant for an Ohio State squad that played in the 2007 BCS Championship game
The 1988 Boys Cross Country Team was inducted into the Kaneland Hall of Fame at halftime during the boys varsity basketball game against Ottawa last Friday. Pictured L to R: Kaneland High School Athletic Director Leigh Jaffke, Kaneland School District Superintendant Dr. Jeff Schuler, Kevin McQuade, Jim Probst, Tim Wolf, Jake and Luke Fahrenbacher (Coach Eddington’s grandsons), Chad Clarey and Casey Wright. Shown is Dr. Schuler shaking the hand of Coach Eddington’s grandson Luke. Photo by Patti Wilk
Photo: American troops hand out donated Kaneland soccer warmups and old uniforms among care packages in an Afghanistan village. Courtesy Photo
Knights soccer sends goodwill Afghanistan’s way by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—In Afghanistan, moments of kindness are always welcome in the face of hardship.
For inhabitants of the mountainous country, survival and basic necessities trump luxury.
This fall, basic necessities and warmth were provided to villagers by the United States Army—courtesy of the Kaneland High School soccer program.
“Scott Parillo and I discussed what to do with old Kaneland soccer uniforms that had accumulated, that we’d outgrown or just replaced due to upgrading to a different style,” Javier Martinez said.
Martinez, social science teacher and head adviser to the student council, wondered where the uniforms could end up.
“They took up a bunch of space at the end of summer, so we wondered what we could do with it or where to donate,” Martinez said.
Overtures were made toward Operation Support Our Troops, based in Lisle, Ill., and with a member of the outfit having a son serving with the United States Army in Afghanistan, the choice was made.
“We were able to donate the uniforms, and we thought the warmups and uniforms could create a little goodwill in that area with the local people,” Martinez said.
Donating Kaneland soccer garb like old uniforms and warmup kits provides no downside, according to Parillo.
“We decided to donate these items to help those less fortunate in Afghanistan,” Parillo said. “It is also to help our soldiers over there, as well. Our program will do anything to help our soldiers. We have donated soccer balls in the past and thought old uniforms would be a nice gesture. Our soldiers aren’t always the most popular people when they are there, and this can help to show that they mean well and are doing their jobs.”
“We were able to donate the uniforms, and we thought the warmups and uniforms could create a little goodwill in that area with the local people,” Martinez said.
Now locals in Afghanistan, with help from the United States’ best line of defense, can enjoy the best warmups Kaneland High School had to offer.
KANELAND—Kaneland High School athletics released their slate of Fall Sports Awards, with each sport trumpeting the best it had to offer, with some All-Northern Illinois Big XII honors thrown in for good measure.
In golf, All-NIB-12 went to Troy Krueger and Matt Yonkovich. Co-Varsity MVP’s were Brody Kuhar and Yonkovich. Connor Williams won the varsity most improved player award. On the frosh/soph roster, Stephen Cannell took the MVP, and Jacob Sheehan won the most improved player award.
For volleyball, All-NIB-12 nods went to Katy Dudzinski and conference MVP Kylie Siebert.
Dudzinski was named top offensive player while Siebert was named top defensive player.
Most improved player went to Rachael Clinton, and the Spirit award went to Lauren Banbury. Dudzinski and Siebert took home the team MVP awards.
In Kaneland tennis, Stephanie Rosenwinkel, Amelia Napiorkowski and Kelly Kovacic were recognized as captains. Mallory Dugan and Stephanie Karolewicz were named most improved. Kovacic and Colleen Landers took the team spirit awards. Outstanding achievement awards went to Jelly Emmnouil for a perfect regular season, Madi Jurcenko for a school record 33 wins, and the doubles tandem of Jurcenko and Napiorkowski for a record of 32-3. All-NIB-12 members were Napiorkowski, Jurcenko, Emmanouil and Sammie Schrepferman, and those four were also named team MVP’s.
For girls cross country, Victoria Clinton was honored for All-State totals, as well as being a State qualifier with teammates Maggie Brundige, Abby Dodis, Aislinn Lodwig, Amanda Lesak, Sydney Strang and Ashley Castellanos.
Lesak, Dodis, Lodwig, Brundige and Clinton were named to the All-NIB-12 team. Dodis, Brundige and Carolina Tovar were recognized as captains. Most improved runners were Dodis and Brundige, while Clinton was named as Most Valuable Runner, capping an exceptional freshman campaign.
For boys cross country, Kyle Carter, John Meisinger, Brandon Huber, Miki Marin, Conor Johnson, Luis Acosta, Clayton Brundige and Nate Rehkopf were recognized as State qualifiers, while Huber, Carter and Meisinger made the All-NIB-12 team.
The Golden Knight Awards went to freshman Andrew Lesak, sophomore Nathanie Kucera, junior Meisinger and senior Rehkopf. Rehkopf, Brundige and Marin were recognized as captains. Huber took the most improved runner nod. Brundige won the Larry Eddington Award for Courage, Leadership and Strength. Carter was named most valuable runner.
For the State semifinalist football squad, Quinn Buschbacher was recognized for his IHSCA All-State accomplishment, and Jacob Razo was credited with an IHSCA Honorable Mention. Alex Snyder, Drew David, Blake Bradford and Ben Kovalick were named to the IHSCA Academic All-State team.
Snyder, Nick Sharp, Buschbacher, Sean Carter, David, Ryan Noel, Kovalick, Razo, Kory Harner, Ryan Lawrence and Bradford were named to the All-NIB-12 team.
Special teams MVP was Matt Roriguez, while Buschbacher was offensive MVP and Razo was named defensive MVP.
Most improved player was Brandon Stahl, captains were Kovalick, Noel, Buschbacher, Razo and Carter, while Sean Carter walked away with the MVP award.
For the regional finalist soccer team, Alex Gil and Anthony Parillo were named to the All-Sectional team, while Jordan Escobedo, Gil, Parillo and Alec Koczka made the All-NIB-12 team. Pedro Perez and Tyler Siebert were honorable mention candidates.
Gil was named player of the year, with Escobedo taking the offensive player of the year and Sam Rymarz named the defensive player of the year.
The Coach’s Award went to Siebert, Koczka, Jason Biddle and Chris Van Dinther. Gil, Escobedo and Parillo were recognized as captains.
Rookie of the year went to Arsim Azemi. Thansi Pesmajoglou was named most improved player and Gil and Parillo took the team MVP.
Four Knights named to elite squad after regional final run
KANELAND—Kaneland High School soccer saw more benefits roll in even after this last season.
Having made it all the way to the regional final before being ousted by Marmion Academy, the Knights’ squad saw four of its own named to the Northern Illinois Big XII East division All-Conference team, as handed down in November
The Knights had junior midfielder Alex Gil, junior defender Alec Koczka, senior forward Jordan Escobedo and sophomore forward Anthony Parillo named to the elite group.
Meanwhile, sophomore forward Tyler Siebert and senior defender Pedro Perez earned honorable mention nods for their season.
Rochelle brought the most East division honors with five players, and DeKalb’s midfielder Sammy Lake, a senior, won the division MVP.
In the West division, Sterling’s Bryan Gutierrez won the MVP honors.
The Knights finished 12-7-1, and fell short of their quest to clinch a second straight regional title.
KANELAND—Honors for Kaneland Knights football are now coming as frequently as a monster gain on a Friday night in Maple Park.
Senior wideout Quinn Buschbacher was one of an NIB-12 -best 11 Knights to earn all-conference honors in the East division, with the senior captain earning offensive MVP honors, as well.
Morris’ Hunter Barry took defensive MVP honors.
The Knights’ 11-deep all-conference roster will see the return of six for the 2012 season. Coach Tom Fedderly mentioned in August that a big key to projected success was the return of a handful of all-NIB-12 personnel.
KHS can now boast senior Buschbacher, along with seniors Sean Carter (WR), Ryan Noel (DL), Ben Kovalick (DL) and Jacob Razo (DB). Juniors are OL Nick Sharp, DB Kory Harner, LB Ryan Lawrence and LB Blake Bradford. QB Drew David was one of only three sophomores in the conference to earn top honors, along with OL teammate Alex Snyder.
Morris added 10 members to the list, followed by Sycamore with eight.
Senior leads East Division honors, joined by three teammates by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—It was a productive year for Kaneland volleyball, much like last year.
But this year, the Lady Knights can not only boast 38 wins in the last two seasons, but can now trumpet a conference MVP in its ranks.
Kylie Siebert, a senior, who provided stability at the libero position, was voted by coaches to be the NIB-12 East division MVP.
“It’s an honor that we were able to have both Kylie and Katy make the All Conference Team,” KHS coach Todd Weimer said. “And another step further, Kylie is our first All Conference, MVP, Player of the Year. Most MVP’s are setters or hitters and the liberos and smaller players get overlooked. Kylie has done a tremendous job of laying everything on the court.”
Kaneland also welcomed senior Katy Dudzinski to the first team. Dudzinski is bound for the Wichita State University volleyball program.
In the east, the Lady Barbs of DeKalb produced the most first-team nominees with three.
KHS was also happy to add senior Grace Fabrizius and junior Lauren Banbury to the honorable mention list.
In the West, LaSalle-Peru senior Sammi Herron earned the MVP tag.
Photo: Receiver Sean Carter hauls in a pass during Saturday night’s Class 5A
playoff semifinal battle with defending champion Montini. Photo by John DiDonna
by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—Sequels can be more entertaining and gripping than the original, but for Kaneland football and its fans, the ending to this particular drama was still hard to take.
Jordan Westerkamp’s touchdown catch with 2 minutes, three seconds remaining in the game was the final blow in a 35-31 loss to Montini Catholic on Saturday night, ending the Knights’ quest for Class 5A State glory at 12-1.
Kaneland held the lead for nearly 25 minutes going from the second quarter to late in the fourth, but as it stood, Montini tries for its third straight title against the Hilltoppers of Joliet Catholic on Saturday, Nov. 26, at the University of Illinois.
Kaneland still has won 24 of 26 contests, and hasn’t lost in the regular season since Week eight of 2009.
Montini outgained Kaneland by a 407-366 yard margin, but it was more of the toe-to-toe fight Knight faithful were looking for after last year’s 27-14 setback in the semifinal to the Broncos.
“Our kids played their hearts out,” KHS coach Tom Fedderly said. “I’m so proud of our team, they came out and didn’t back down.”
Montini’s John Rhode was 20-for-35 for 230 yards with one touchdown and an interception. Counterpart Drew David was 16-for-31 for 165 yards and a touchdown.
Bronco Joseph Borsellino was the leading receiver with 123 yards on nine catches. Knight Jesse Balluff was the leading target out of the backfield with 69 yards. Balluff added a prolific 143 yards rushing, a game high. Bronco Dimitri Taylor had 111 of his own.
Montini got on the board first with a one-yard run out of the wildcat formation from Borsellino with 1:13 left in the opening frame for a 7-0 lead. Balluff tied matters soon after with an 81-yard scoring scamper down the sideline just 23 ticks later, and Taylor came back 36 seconds after that with a 48-yard TD run for a 14-7 deficit.
The second quarter belonged to KHS, thanks to a Balluff TD run from 18 yards away with 7:51 to go and a tie-breaking 26-yard field goal from Matt Rodriguez with 3:14 left, and the Knights went into the locker room up 17-14.
In the second half, things improved for KHS when Zach Martinelli made an acrobatic touchdown catch from 18 yards away, giving Kaneland a 24-14 lead with 9:01 to go in the third. Borsellino scored again from two yards out with 5:53 to go to close within 24-21. David’s four-yard plunge with 1:38 to go in the third marked the last Knight score of the season, and a 31-21 lead.
With 12 minutes to go before the Knights conceivably could start their Champaign journey, the Broncos’ Taylor completed the ensuing drive after David’s TD with a 31-yard scoring run just 30 seconds into the quarter, making it 31-28.
In crunch-time, Montini’s drive stalled at the Knight 46, leading to a punt. The Knights, however, went three-and-out, giving the ball back to the Broncos. Montini went 52 yards, ending with Westerkamp’s 19-yard paydirt play.
KHS then stalled at its own 47, on an incompletion to Sean Carter.
“We wanted to be close and have it come down to the fourth quarter, and it didn’t happen tonight,” Fedderly said.
The Knights, who still had a season to remember, have now lost their last three State semifinal games. Their 2006 nemesis, Marian Central Catholic of Woodstock, lost in this year’s quarterfinal to Montini.
Photo: Quinn Buschbacher (22) has the upper hand as he reels in a pivotal catch during the Knights’ 20-14 win in the Class 5A quarterfinals on Saturday. The 27-yard grab led to his TD run two plays later, giving the Knights a 14-7 lead going into halftime. Photo by Ben Draper
Montini Catholic provides second straight semi challenge by Mike Slodki
ROCHELLE—Kaneland football has dealt with Northern Illinois Big XII rival Rochelle quite successfully in recent years.
But, they hadn’t dealt with a Hubs squad like this.
With two playoff wins each under their belts, the Knights and Hubs met in Ogle County on Saturday, and much like the previous two KHS wins, it wasn’t decided until very late.
But a fourth quarter touchdown run by Jesse Balluff, coupled with two defensive stands, led to a 20-14 quarterfinal victory.
“I’m glad those kids were able to step up and win the game for us at the end,” KHS coach Tom Fedderly said. “People were doubting the defense a little bit, and I couldn’t be happier or prouder.”
The Knights improve to 12-0 and make the Class 5A State semifinal round for the second straight year, as well as the third in the last six tries.
The Hubs finished at 8-4, but it was a different team than the one Kaneland defeated 35-14, in the fifth game.
Despite having won four meetings in a row, Kaneland was dealing with a Rochelle unit gaining confidence with each playoff win, most recently last week against the Sycamore Spartans.
“Watching them on film, those guys greatly improved, and they were really playing well at the end of the year,” Fedderly said.
Even though Rochelle had a 281-272 edge in total yards, the Knights were helped by Balluff’s 70 yard rushing total, and QB Drew David added 65 yards of his own.
Quinn Buschbacher had 76 yards on four catches.
The threatening rush of Rochelle was led by Marquez Felix with 117 yards on 12 carries, while Will Metzger had 82 yards on 16 carries.
After a first quarter with no scoring, Rochelle drew first blood with a one-yard plunge by Felix with 10 minutes, 30 seconds remaining in the second quarter for a 7-0 lead.
With Kaneland looking to answer, David ended an eight-play, 57-yard drive with an 18-yard touchdown scamper with 6:42 to go for a 7-7 tie.
“I think I did OK when I had to take the ball and run,” David said. “Other times, I wish I made a different decision. For the most part, as long as we come out with a ‘W,’ it’s fine.”
After Rochelle punted, KHS capitalized with a six-play drive that ended with Buschbacher’s four-yard TD run with 2:02 remaining in the half for a 14-7 lead. The drive was set into high gear after the senior’s 27-yard, one-handed catch.
Felix tied the score on a 58-yard TD run with 9:04 to go in the third quarter for a 14-14 tie.
KHS started the go-ahead drive in the third quarter, but continued in the fourth. Balluff’s number was called three straight times, and went for a 33-yard scoring scamper with 9:53 to go.
“It seemed like (Rochelle) was a lot more physical this time,” Balluff said. “They’re a great team, and I’m afraid every year to play these guys.”
The extra point was blocked, setting a tense 20-14 lead.
Rochelle put together a drive from its own 20 with solid running. Then, on the 13th play of the drive; a fourth-and-one from the Knight 19, Rochelle signal-caller Nick Moore rolled left but was stopped before the first-down marker.
KHS took over with 2:02 remaining, but had to punt four plays later. Rochelle took over at its own 34. Sean Carter nabbed an important sack on a first down from midfield. With the clock running and the Hubs’ out of timeouts, Moore had to air out a pass that sailed over the players’ heads with four ticks left.
The Knights’ semifinal test, Montini Catholic, has lost twice this season, but comes off a 52-27 win over Woodstock’s Marian Central Catholic, ironically, the squad that eliminated Kaneland in the State semis in 2006.
Rally Round the Knights
Kaneland High School has scheduled a pep rally for the football team before the State semifinal, for Saturday, Nov. 19, at 3:30 p.m. in the East Gym.
Doors open at 3:15 p.m.
The Knights and Broncos face each other once again, with a State championship berth on the line.
A year ago, the Broncos ended the Knights’ playoff hopes by a 27-14 final.
Montini has earned state trophies in 2004, 2009 & 2010
How ‘Drew’ doin?
Sophomore QB Drew David becomes the third QB in recent memory to throw for a State semifinal team, following Joe Camiliere and Boone Thorgesen.
Through the first three playoff games in 2011, Drew is 42-for-79 for 727 yards, 5 TD, 3 INT