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More like it at Morris

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Knights recover nicely from Sycamore setback, finish regular season 8-1
MORRIS, ILL.—One never knows how the usual Week 9 regular season battles between the Kaneland Knights and Morris Redskins will go.

Luckily, the Friday gridiron battle decided to go the way of the Knights for the fourth-straight instance.

Coming off of their first regular season loss in 35 games the week prior in Sycamore, the Knights perhaps started a whole new streak against a scuffling Morris squad in a 49-14 rout.

Kaneland finishes the regular season at 8-1 (4-1 Northern Illinois Big XII), while Morris (3-6, 1-4 NIB-12).

Kaneland ends the regular season with its sixth straight winning record, and 18th winning record in the last 19 tries. Morris was eliminated from playoff contention a year after completing a State runner-up appearance in 2012.

“I was really happy with how we came out,” KHS coach Tom Fedderly said. “Especially on the first drive, we marched right down and scored. So, I was really happy and just wondering how the kids were going to respond.”

Quarterback Drew David had 204 yards passing on 12 of 24 passing attempts.

The first quarter started well enough for KHS, with David moving 35 yards off a read option. Four plays later, Isaac Swithers (101 yards, 12 carries) shrugged off contact and scored on a 14-yard touchdown pass with 9:41 left in the first for a 7-0 lead.

On Morris’ second drive, Jake Walker took the handoff and exploited a hole for an 84-yard touchdown run with 8:03 to go that tied the score at 7-7.

Three Kaneland drives later, the Knights used Swithers’ runs to set up a pass up the middle to Dylan Nauert for a 16-yard score with 1:46 left and a 14-7 lead. Nauert had 71 yards receiving on the night.

Nauert would find paydirt again with a sprint up the middle for a 41-yard touchdown run, with Tyler Carlson catching the two-point try and a 22-7 lead with two ticks left in the frame.

“We didn’t play up to our best last week,” Nauert said. “We wanted to come back this week and just (proves) that that’s not our team. Morris is always a fun game.”

After both teams traded interceptions, including one by Carlson, Kaneland would get the ball back and Nate Dyer would spin off a would-be tackler en route to an 18-yard touchdown run and a 29-7 advantage with 8:43 before the half.

The next two drives would pay dividends for KHS, thanks to a six-yard run by Swithers with 4:47 to go to make it 36-7, and a five-yard deep ball to Brandon Bishop for a 42-7 edge just 20 seconds before the break.

The Knights’ final regular season touchdown came thanks to Swithers from the 24-yard line of the Redskins just 17 seconds into the third quarter, triggering the running clock with a 49-7 lead. Kaneland had taken over after one Morris play due to a fumble recovery.

Saturday’s IHSA Football Playoff Pairing Show returns to Comcast SportsNet

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BLOOMINGTON, Ill.—The Illinois High School Association (IHSA) Football Playoff Pairing Show will return to Comcast SportsNet Chicago again in 2013. Comcast SportsNet Chicago, the television home for the most games and the most comprehensive coverage of the Chicago Blackhawks, Bulls, Cubs and White Sox, will produce the show in HD when it airs live from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 26.

The show, which will reveal the brackets and first round match-ups of all 256 playoff qualifiers across eight classes, can also be viewed via live interactive stream on the internet at IHSA.tv and CSNChicago.com.

“The IHSA Football Playoff Pairing Show’ continues to be one of the most highly-anticipated events in the state of Illinois and we couldn’t be prouder to showcase two-straight hours of live, interactive coverage to our on-air and online viewers on Saturday night,” said Phil Bedella, VP/GM of Comcast SportsNet Chicago.

Marian Central Catholic (Woodstock) alum and CSN anchor Jen Lada will host the show and be joined by a panel of experts on-set, including long-time IHSA TV announcer Dave Bernhard and Kankakee Daily Journal sportswriter and Illinois high school football bracketologist Steve Soucie. IHSA TV veteran and Rockford WTVO reporter Matt Rodewald will manage the interactive desk, chatting with fans via social media and taking their questions to the air. CSN prep football expert “Edgy” Tim O’Halloran will also join the show in-studio for the first time. Fans who want to interact with the show are encouraged to use the hashtag #IHSA.

The program will once again feature coach and media guests from around the state, while CSN camera crews will be roaming the Land of Lincoln catching live reactions from school parties.

In addition, for the first-time ever, fans will get to choose one of the coaches who will be interviewed on the show via voting online at CSNChicago.com/Preps and Twitter. Each of the coaches below can be voted for via poll on the Comcast SportsNet Chicago website (CSNChicago.com/Preps) or by accessing @IHSAState on Twitter and “retweeting” and “favoriting” the tweet for their favorite team’s coach.

1A Matt Leng, Fisher High School
2A Mike McElroy, Elverado-Trico Coop (Elkville)
3A Tim Nolen, Robinson High School
4A Anthony Faltin, Walter Payton College Prep (Chicago)
5A Darin Driscoll, Limestone High School (Bartonville)
6A Rick Little, Quincy High School
7A Joe Wardynski, Wheaton North High School
8A Craig Buzea, Homewood-Flossmoor High School

“This is one of the most exciting nights of the year,” said IHSA Executive Director Marty Hickman. “It is a great opportunity for teams and communities to come together and celebrate their accomplishments from the regular-season. This show has become an IHSA tradition, and we are proud to partner with Comcast SportsNet Chicago, who does so much to enhance the experience for viewers across the state and country.”

The pairings show 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 or the IHSA’s channel finder by market.

Friday Preview: Kaneland (7-1) @ Morris (3-5)

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With playoff placing on the line, Kaneland travels to Grundy County to face the Morris Redskins on Friday, Oct. 24.

Morris, under fourth-year coach Alan Thorson, beat visiting Rochelle by a final of 31-28, but will fail to make the playoffs for the first time since 2000 with a 3-5 record. The Redskins were runners-up in last year’s Class 5A State Championship game and had been to a title game four times in the last 10 years.

Since becoming conference mates in the NIB-12 in 2010, Kaneland has won every meeting, but not without drama. After handling the visiting Redskins 47-7 in 2010, the Knights escaped Morris with a tight 31-28 win in 2011, and won on a last-second catch in Maple Park by Zach Martinelli in 2012 by a 33-30 margin.

First setback

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Photo: Senior John Pruett makes an athletic grab in Kaneland’s 31-21 loss to Sycamore Friday. Pruett had five receptions for 91 yards—a game high. Photos by Patti Wilk

Sycamore hands Kaneland its first regular season loss since 2009
SYCAMORE—It’s comforting that Friday’s post-game feeling took some getting used to for Kaneland High School football and its fans, but it didn’t make Friday’s 31-21 loss any better in the end.

In front of a boisterous Spartan crowd, the Sycamore hosts (8-0, 4-0 NIB-12), ranked No. 1 in the IHSA Class 5A playoff outlook, took advantage of an early-fourth quarter turnover and clutch third- and fourth-down conversions in the fourth frame to subdue the Knights, ranked No. 3 in the playoff outlook going into the game.

For the Knights (7-1, 3-1 NIB-12), it signaled the stoppage of a 35-game regular season win streak, and the first-ever loss suffered in Northern Illinois Big XII conference play since the 2010 inception. The last regular season loss Kaneland suffered was to Geneva on Oct. 16, 2009, in the dying days of the Western Sun Conference, 27-24 in overtime.

Kaneland has still won 49 of its last 54 overall contests.

Sycamore, which effectively clinched the NIB-12 East division, travels to Yorkville for Week 9, and tries to clinch an undefeated campaign against the playoff-hunting Foxes.

“Our guys didn’t let up, but those guys made plays and slung the ball, and they executed,” KHS coach Tom Fedderly said.

John Pruett had 91 yards receiving for the Knights, while Drew David had 248 yards passing and 69 yards on the ground.

Kaneland drew first blood with ball-control on the first drive of the game, converting on a five-yard touchdown run by Isaac Swithers with 7:37 to go in the first quarter for a 7-0 edge.

Sycamore got on the scoreboard exactly four minutes into the second quarter on a 30-yard field goal to cut the margin to 7-3, but KHS used six plays to score again on a nine-yard floater from Drew David to running back Nate Dyer by the edge of the end zone. The touchdown made it 14-3 with 5:28 to go in the half.

The Spartans got momentum back when reserve quarterback Nick Feuerbach, in for usual starter Devin Mottet, scampered for a 30-yard touchdown run and cut it to 14-10 with 3:15 to go in the half. The Knights’ ensuing drive came up barren after a 25-yard field goal attempt by Matt Rodriguez missed before halftime.

Sycamore punched through to begin the third quarter scoring thanks to a Dion Hooker run from the 11-yard line, giving the home squad a 17-14 lead with 9:03 left in the third.

Kaneland’s next drive featured a clutch 3rd-and-31 pass to John Pruett for a first down, and it was followed by a 28-yard touchdown catch-and-run by Brandon Bishop to give the Knights a 21-17 lead with 5:21 left in the frame.

The fourth quarter turned out to be decidedly in the Spartans’ favor on both sides of the ball. A David pass was tipped and intercepted by Jack Dargis at the Kaneland 44 and returned 14 yards to the Knight 30. Three plays later, Riley Hurley took it in from the 1-yard line for a 24-21 Sycamore edge just 48 seconds into the fourth.

Kaneland’s next drive ended in a punt, and Sycamore went on the offensive. A seven-play ended with a fourth-and-two desperation pass to Colan Treml for a 20-yard touchdown and a 31-21 lead with 5:11 to play.

Kaneland’s next drives came up empty after 14 plays with a short 35-yard field goal try and an interception, sending the longest win streak in the Chicagoland area up in smoke.

“We were playing for a conference championship, and that’s all we were worried about. All the other stuff I could care less about,” Fedderly said.

Photos by Patti Wilk

Friday Preview: Kaneland (7-0) @ Sycamore (7-0)

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7:30 p.m. at Engh Field, Sycamore
The NIB-12 East title is on the line, as the two top teams clash at Sycamore’s Engh Field Friday at 7:30 p.m.

While Sycamore returned a number of key starters from their deep playoff run in 2012, where they lost to eventual State Champion Montini in the semifinals, not having star running Dion Hooker (leg) available the last few weeks is a huge blow to the Spartans. However, backup Riley Hurley rushed for 145 yards and three touchdowns last week, and Sycamore QB Deven Mottet is a threat through the air and with his feet.

Sycamore’s route to being undefeated had them defeating Lincoln-Way West 34-21 in week one, and includes a 42-33 win at Rochelle last Friday without Hooker. Lincoln-Way West was the team that defeated the Knights in the first round of the playoffs last year, and the Knights defeated Rochelle earlier this season 49-20.

Sycamore has scored 274 points this season, and given up just 121. The Knights have scored more (287) and given up less than half the points (60) through seven games.

The last time the Spartans defeated the Knights was in the 2009 playoffs. After a 21-14 regular season win that year, Sycamore turned it around on the Knights, defeating them in the first round of the IHSA playoffs 40-13. Kaneland’s last regular-season loss to the Spartans dates back to head coach Tom Fedderly’s first year, when Sycamore won 37-7. The Knights were 4-5 that year.

The fox is silent

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Big third quarter dooms Yorkville as KHS (7-0) steamrolls
KANELAND—It’s been a one-sided battle for a while, but with only a 13-0 halftime lead on senior night, the Knights made all the necessary adjustments.

Despite the sluggish first half during Friday night’s contest at Peterson Field against visiting Yorkville, the Knights turned it on with an explosive third quarter enroute to a 41-0 thumping of the Foxes.

The Foxes have not defeated Kaneland since 2002 when they won 34-13. That was also Yorkville’s last winning season—they went 6-4, getting bounced in the first round of the playoffs by Geneseo’s Darnall high school. Since the 2003 season, Kaneland has outscored the Foxes 405-59.

The win vaults KHS to 7-0, and 3-0 in the Northern Illinois Big XII East Division. Kaneland remains undefeated in conference play, dating back to the formation of the NIB-12, and has now tallied 34 consecutive regular season wins.

The Knight defense was stellar, holding the visitors to just 56 total yards of offense: 45 passing and 11 rushing. In fact, Kaneland gave away more yards to the Foxes via penalties—10 penalties for 75 yards.

Senior Dylan Nauert had a nice first half, which included a 42-yard touchdown. Nauert led all rushers with 52 yards and two touchdowns, the second coming in a 21-point third quarter frenzy.

Drew David hooked up with Brandon Bishop twice for touchdown passes, once in the second quarter for 34 yards and another in the third quarter for 37 yards. Bishop ended the game with 83 yards to lead the game. Connor Fedderly also got on the score sheet, hauling in a 20 yard pass from David in the third.

The senior QB David was 13 for 21 for 198 yards, with three touchdowns and two interceptions on the night.

Piling on the defensive stats with KHS interceptions were Isaac Swithers, Grant Wooten and Cole Carlson. Carlson’s interception was returned for a touchdown to make it 40-0 and start the running clock with 9:46 seconds to play in the fourth quarter. A Matt Rodriguez PAT made it 41 to finish the KHS scoring.

Photos by Ben Draper

Kaneland (6-0) vs. Yorkville (4-2)

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at Kaneland High School’s Peterson Field at 7:30 p.m.
On Friday, Oct. 11, the Knights host Yorkville High School in a Week 7 NIB-12 battle. The Foxes traveled to Rochelle on Friday, only to lose in a 30-14 clash. Yorkville fell to 4-2 with a 1-1 NIB-12 mark, on the heels of upsetting the Morris Redskins in Week 6 for the first victory over the Grundy County program in 51 years. YHS has lost two of its last three after emerging with a 3-0 start.

The Foxes are coached by area legend Karl Hoinkes, who began with Yorkville in 2011 after having been a longtime coach at Oswego High School.

On Oct. 5, 2012, Kaneland slammed Yorkville at Campbell Field by a final of 55-0, and have solved the Foxes by a combined score of 134-20 the last three encounters.

By the numbers

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Nate Dyer had 62 yards in Kaneland’s 35-12 triumph at DeKalb Friday. Photo by Patti Wilk

KHS increases regular season win streak to 34 with NIB-12 win at DeKalb
DEKALB—Kaneland and DeKalb have had quite the football battles the last two years.

In 2011, Kaneland found itself visiting the new Dresser Road turf for the first time and down 31-14 before staging a monster second-half comeback in a 49-38 win.

Last year, the Knights put up 66 points on the visiting Barbs.

On Friday, the process was a little more elementary: withstand big plays, ball-control-tinged running, and key passes, leading to a 35-12 win at DeKalb High School.

The win marked the 34th consecutive win for Kaneland football in the regular season. Kaneland improved to a playoff-qualified 6-0 and 2-0 in the Northern Illinois Big XII East division, and has never lost a conference game in the group that began in the 2010 season.

DeKalb fell to 3-3, with an 0-2 mark in conference play. Kaneland has never lost to DeKalb in eight straight conference meetings.

“We’ve got a lot a lot of respect for their coach (former Belvidere coach Matt Weckler), and we’ve played him the last two years in the first round,” KHS coach Tom Fedderly said. “We have a lot of respect for that offense. They spread themselves out and get into space. If you make one mistake they can make a big play, as we saw. We’re really happy to hold these guys to 12 points.”

For the Knights, Drew David threw three touchdown passes on a night where he was 16-for-26 for 330 yards.

DeKalb running back Dre Brown had 130 yards rushing, a game-high.

After an opening DeKalb drive came up empty, Kaneland used Isaac Swithers (71 yards) and Nate Dyer (62 yards) to move the ball from their own 14-yard line. David mixed in a pass to Brandon Bishop (five catches, 65 yards) before rolling out and throwing a deep ball to tight end Tyler Slamans for a 31-yard touchdown. Slamans’ first-ever varsity TD gave KHS a 7-0 lead with 3:33 to go in the frame. After the Barbs punted another drive away, David found wideout Connor Fedderly for a 27-yard completion, and a bomb in stride to John Pruett (85 yards receiving) for a 58-yard scoring strike and a 14-0 lead with 1:06 left in the first quarter.

DeKalb gathered some momentum back when the second play of the next drive yielded a 77-yard touchdown run by quarterback Jack Sauter up the middle to make it 14-6 with 25 ticks left in the quarter.

The lone scoring drive in the second quarter ended with a six-yard run up the middle by Swithers to make it 21-6 with 6:41 to go in the half. The next two scoring opportunities for Kaneland ended with a blocked field goal and an interception.

Asked to carry more of a load along with Dyer, with an accent on speed for the ground game, Swithers is feeling more comfortable.

“Jesse went down so I just stepped in at running back, and I played last year, but I have to fill his shoes,” Swithers said. “I’m a lot faster on the turf, it’s a nice place to play.”

In the third quarter, the Barbs forced Kaneland to punt and converted on an 89-yard touchdown scamper by Brown to close within 21-12 with 8:50 remaining in the third. After Brown fumbled the ball away to Kaneland two drives later, the Knights used a couple of runs by Swithers, a pass to Dylan Nauert, a run by David and a two-yard touchdown run by Dyer to make it 28-12 with 2:14 to go in the third.

The lone score in the fourth quarter came on a David conversion from the eight-yard line with 9:39 remaining for the final 23-point margin.

Friday preview: Kaneland (5-0) @ DeKalb (3-2)

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Friday, Oct. 4, 7:30 p.m.
Kaneland travels to DeKalb High School for its next challenge on Friday, Oct. 4. The Knights have beaten the Barbs seven straight times since the regular meetings began in 2006, including an afternoon contest in 2009 for DeKalb’s homecoming, 35-6, a 49-38 comeback win from a 17-point deficit on DeKalb’s turf in 2011, and last year’s 66-23 trouncing.

DeKalb comes into the Friday contest with a record of 3-2 (0-1 NIB-12). The Barbs solved Streator with a 42-14 road win last Friday and have averaged 41 points per win. The Barbs are coached by first-year head man and former Belvidere Bucs coach Matt Weckler who is well-versed in facing the Knights. Weckler and Co. were eliminated by the Knights in the past two Class 5A postseason first rounds.

Photo gallery: Homecoming Football Game

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Photos by Patti Wilk and Mary Paulson

Taking charge

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Kaneland ends back-and-forth with strong 2nd half vs. Rochelle
KANELAND—After a tight, back-and-forth first half between Kaneland and Rochelle on Friday night in Maple Park, the Northern Illinois Big XII East division opener turned the tide on a half-ending touchdown pass from Drew David to John Pruett that gave KHS the lead for good at 21-20.

Kaneland would then go on to score four unanswered touchdowns in the 49-20 win over the visiting Hubs. The meeting marked the end of the regular rotation of meetings between the two schools that began with the formation of the now-dead Western Sun Conference for the 2006 season.

Rochelle is scheduled to move to the West division in the NIB-12 landscape to offset the departure of Dixon and Streator in 2014. The East division will then consist of DeKalb, Kaneland, Morris, Sycamore and Yorkville.

Kaneland improved to 5-0 (1-0 NIB-12), while Rochelle dropped to 4-1 (0-1 NIB-12). It marked the seventh consecutive win for KHS over the Hubs, dating back to a 16-12 win in 2008 thanks to a TD by current Elmhurst College QB Joe Camaliere. Kaneland also managed two victories in 2011 over the Hubs that included a 20-14 Class 5A State quarterfinal.

David was 10-of-20 for 177 yards, two scoring strikes and one interception. The senior signal-caller also had a 58-yard touchdown scamper put forth in motion by key blocks by the line and a receiver in the fourth quarter.

Running back Isaac Swithers, carrying the bulk of the running plays with senior Jesse Balluff out for 2013 with a knee injury, rushed 14 times for 93 yards and a touchdown. Pruett had four catches for 82 yards and two scores, while Dylan Nauert had four catches for 69 yards.

“We just talked about on our end, doing what we do better than the mistakes we were making,” KHS coach Tom Fedderly said. “I just think with what we saw they were doing, I thought there were a couple of things we could take advantage of. We’ve got a lot of weapons. We can throw when we have to, and we can run when we have to.”

The scoring started almost immediately, as Nauert returned the game’s opening kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown just 17 seconds into the game. Rochelle’s Evan White returned the favor from 96 yards on the ensuing kickoff 15 seconds later, but the extra-point attempt missed for a 7-6 score.

Kaneland then took six minutes to drive for another first-quarter score. A 12-play, 61-yard drive that featured nine runs ended with a five-yard score from running back Nate Dyer with 5:28 to go. A two-point attempt to linebacker Cole Carlson made it 15-6, Kaneland.

The Wing-T formation-leading Hubs took over and went 50 yards in seven plays, ending with a four-yard touchdown by Marquez Felix to make it 15-12 with 1:48 remaining in the first.

Rochelle went on top in the second quarter on a White touchdown run from the nine with 3:04 to go in the half. A Keegan Akers catch was good for the two-point try to send Kaneland into a 20-15 hole.

Kaneland lost the ball on a Rochelle interception, but after holding Rochelle on downs, Kaneland went seven plays for 62 yards for a David-to-Pruett score in the corner of the end zone for 26 yards to go into the locker room up 21-20. The score offset a Nauert TD pass from 16-yards that was negated by a penalty.

“We just ran our offense,” Pruett said. “We just had the open guys, I guess. Whoever Drew threw to, we tried to make plays.”

The lone scoring drive for Kaneland in the third quarter came on a 19-yard scamper by Swithers with 8:42 left in the frame for a 28-20 lead.

Kaneland’s next three touchdowns came within the span of five offensive plays in the fourth quarter. Dyer scored from the one with 11:06 to go for a 35-20 lead. Pruett caught his second TD pass with 7:18 remaining to go up 42-20, and the David rush to daylight capped the scoring with 4:55 left in the game.

Streat Talk

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Kaneland (4-0) subdues Streator in inter-divisional game
KANELAND—Friday’s result from Peterson Field in Maple Park was a familiar one.

But Kaneland football was a different unit against visiting Streator, and will be for the remainder of 2013.

The MRI on Tuesday for running back Jesse Balluff revealed a torn anterior cruciate ligament after suffering the injury in the Sept. 13 victory in Sterling.

Still, Balluff was a presence on the sidelines, reassuring fellow Knights as they came off the sidelines in the 42-0 win over the Bulldogs of the Northern Illinois Big XII West division.

“That’s just the guy Jesse is,” Knights quarterback Drew David said. “Doesn’t matter if he’s playing or not, he always comes with a smile on his face. Everyone feels terrible for him, and we just tried to rally around him.”

Any further success in 2013 will have to come without the senior ball-carrier, making future wins bittersweet.

“(Jesse)’s such an important part of our team, and such a good friend to all these kids. To have him out here and be vocal and be a team leader, and elected team captain, we expect him to be a leader, and that’s what he is on the sidelines,” KHS coach Tom Fedderly said.

The win marked the 32nd consecutive regular season win for the Knights, and signified the last meeting on the football field between the two squads for the foreseeable future. Streator, the southern-most NIB-12 school, departs for the Interstate Eight Conference for the 2014-15 school year.

Kaneland won the home-and-home series by a combined score of 83-0.

Kaneland had 133 yards courtesy of several ballcarriers on the ground as part of a collective effort.

David was 17-of-24 for 272 yards and five touchdown passes, with one pick. Connor Fedderly caught six passes for 59 yards, while teammate Brandon Bishop had four catches for 110 yards.

Kaneland had 405 yards gained through the night, compared to just 76 for the visiting Bulldogs.

John Pruett caught the first of his three touchdowns from 14 yards out to kick off the scoring, giving KHS a 6-0 lead with 8:29 left in the first quarter. David would score on a 17-yard scramble to make it 13-0 with 1:41 remaining in the frame.

In the second quarter, Bishop caught a short pass near the sideline on the first offensive play and went 59 yards for a score to make it 20-0 just 11 ticks into the frame.

After linebacker Cole Carlson put an end to the next Streator drive with an interception at his own 33, KHS put together a nine-play drive that ended with another scoring strike to Pruett on a deep pattern. The score put Kaneland up 27-0 with :48 to go before halftime.

The third quarter set Streator’s fate in stone, with Pruett catching his third TD pass of the game on a second-and-six from the 11-yard line with 4:37 left in the quarter. David improvised on an errant snap and found Tyler Carlson for the two-point conversion making it 35-0.

After Streator punted, Kaneland used four runs to set up a 13-yard TD pass to Bishop with :24 to go in the third activating the running clock at 42-0.

“Streator was able to stop the run, and like we’ve said all year, we want to be balanced. When we have to throw and they’re making us throw, we’re going to throw. If they’re going to make us run, we’ve got to be able to run,” Fedderly said.

Photos by Patti Wilk

Friday preview: Kaneland (4-0) vs. Rochelle (4-0)

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2013_VARSITY

Friday, Sept. 27, 7:30 p.m. at Peterson Field

Kaneland begins its charge to qualify for the postseason with a tussle against the visiting Rochelle Hubs on Friday, Sept. 27.

Since being divisional-mates since the launching of the brief Western Sun Conference in 2006, Kaneland and Rochelle have met every regular season. That development ends in 2014 with the NIB-12 departure of Dixon and Streator to the Big Northern Conference and I-8, respectively.

The shuffling necessitated a divisional realignment in the NIB-12 football landscape in 2014, with Rochelle relocating to the West to balance out the schools.

Kaneland has defeated Rochelle in seven out of 10 meetings in the last decade of action. The Hubs last defeated Kaneland back in 2007, 35-24, in the opening match of their new athletic grounds. KHS has won six in a row, including 34-6 in Ogle County a year ago. The Knights also swept two victories in 2011 as part of regular season and IHSA Class 5A State quarterfinal play.

KHS comes into Friday’s contest averaging 40.5 points a game, and giving up a grand total of four touchdowns on the season.

Rochelle, with its noted ground attack, comes in with an identical 4-0 record and having scored 58 points in two of its four contests, including Friday’s 58-21 win over the Sterling Golden Warriors.

The Hubs are coached by Kevin Crandall, in his 19th season at the helm, and have qualified for the postseason 15 of the last 17 campaigns, most recently missing the chance in 2010. A year ago, Rochelle was upended in the first round after a 6-3 regular season by eventual Kaneland conqueror Lincoln-Way West.

Photo from RochelleHubsFootball.net

Martinelli playing football at Central College

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PELLA, IOWA—Zach Martinelli of Elburn, a wide receiver and recent Kaneland graduate, is a member of the Central College football team.

The Dutch are the third-winningest football team of any college or university in the U.S. since 1975 (.805 winning percentage) and have not had a losing season since 1960. Central has captured a record 30 Iowa Conference championships with 20 NCAA Division III playoff berths, including 17 in the past 26 years.

Coach Jeff McMartin entered his 10th season ranked 12th among active NCAA Division III coaches in career winning percentage, posting a 73-23 (.760) mark. Central returns 44 letterwinners and 19 starters (7 off., 8 def., 4 specialty) from last year’s 5-5 squad.

Late-night run

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Photo: Nate Dyer (32) had a big night for the Knights, rushing for three touchdowns. Photo by Patti Wilk

Sterling can’t counter Kaneland (3-0) balance
STERLING, Ill.—Kaneland showed a great crossover move on Friday night, but not on the basketball court.

Instead, the Knights football roster (3-0) successfully handled its Northern Illinois Big XII West division opponent on the turf of Sterling Chevrolet Field, the home of the Sterling Golden Warriors (2-1), in a 48-7 running clock defeat.

For the Knights, it marked the 31st consecutive victory in the regular season, and marked the third win in the last four meetings between the two schools.

Kaneland beat Sterling in the Class 5A State quarterfinals in Maple Park in 2006, a 52-45 double-overtime epic. Sterling returned the favor in Whiteside County two years later in a 23-21 first-round meeting. KHS bested the visiting Golden Warriors on Sept. 14, 2012, 42-0.

KHS gained 369 yards of total offense, compared to 80 for the hosts, with ball-carrier Nate Dyer running like a bull for the Knights with a game-high 97 yards.

“We always got guys coming in and that’s what we strive for is if a man goes down, we get that second man in,” Dyer said. “Every team that comes in, we have to expect them to be a tough team. We just had to practice hard and play hard.”

Dyer (three TDs) took the brunt of the carries, along with Isaac Swithers and Dylan Nauert, spelling Jesse Balluff, who went down in pain after being tackled to the sidelines after a first-quarter pass. The senior was on crutches with a wrap on his knee after the contest.

Senior quarterback Drew David passed for 229 yards and two touchdowns, and ran for a score of his own.

David and Co. were adept at extending plays for more gains on Friday.

“The line always does a great job with blocking,” David said. “(Sterling) kind of threw different coverage than we were expecting, so it kind of confused us a little bit, but we always have guys that can make plays.”

To get to the ground punishments, Kaneland began the first drive with passes to Balluff, John Pruett, Nauer and Balluff again to gather 62 yards of offense. Five plays later, David snuck in from the one-yard line for a 7-0 lead with 7:41 to go in the first.

After a punt by Sterling, Kaneland took over and went six plays for 45 yards, ending in an 18-yard fade pattern to Connor Fedderly, his first varsity touchdown. The score made it 14-0 with 3:15 to go.

KHS would score on its third consecutive drive when David, Swithers and Dyer would make productive carries, and Dyer would scamper for a 10-yard touchdown just six seconds into the second frame for a 20-0 edge.

Sterling would strike back in short fashion, thanks to a 38-yard touchdown pass to Logan Wharff 21 seconds later to close within 20-7. Wharff set up the play with a 60-yard kickoff return.

Later, Kaneland would get pick from Swithers to set up the ball at the Sterling 28. On the third run of the drive, Dyer’s six-yard score would make it 27-7 with 5:04 left in the half.

The Knights would convert on the next drive toward the end of the frame, with six runs and one pass. Dyer’s four-yard run completed a 60-yard drive for a 34-7 lead with 43 seconds before the buzzer.

Two third-quarter scores put the game on ice, as Nauert took an inside handoff and went 19 yards for a touchdown with 8:37 to go to make it 41-7, and Nauert made an up-for-grabs catch from the three with 4:19 to go for the 48-7 margin, completing an eight-play drive.

Photos by Patti Wilk:

Kaneland (3-0) vs. Streator (0-3)

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BULLDOG

Friday, Sept. 20, at 7:30 p.m.
Kaneland High School’s Peterson Field

The Knights host the Streator Bulldogs on Friday, Sept. 20, for the second of two NIB-12 crossover meetings in 2013. A year ago, Kaneland traveled to Streator and won 41-0 in a contest that triggered a running clock for the entire second half. Balluff, Nauert and Dyer all found the end zone in the win.

Streator comes into next Friday at 0-3 after a 29-13 loss at Ottawa. The Bulldogs have scored a total of 33 points this season, and are coached by Kirk Melody. Streator last amassed both a winning record and playoff qualification in 2008, and has lost 29 of its last 30 regular season encounters.

This stands to be the last regular season meeting between the two squads for the foreseeable future, as Streator leaves the NIB-12 after four years in June 2014. Streator, the conference’s southern-most school, leaves for the Interstate Eight Conference, while Dixon departs for the Big Northern Conference.

The shuffling necessitated a divisional realignment in the NIB-12 football landscape in 2014, with Rochelle relocating to the West to balance out the schools.

Photos: IC Catholic @ Kaneland

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Higher ground

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Kaneland Football 001

Photo: The Knights Dylan Nauert carries the ball during the first quarter. Photo by Erik Anderson

Knights beat Elmhurst-based namesake in week 2 affair
KANELAND—Friday night’s first drive set the tone.

Facing an all-new non-conference opponent in Elmhurst’s IC Catholic Prep, Kaneland could have relied on the air game, but instead went to the rushing attack spurred on by workhorses Jesse Balluff, Dylan Nauert and Nate Dyer.

The first drive of the contest lasted nine plays and went 75 yards, ending with a 20-yard touchdown run around left end for Balluff with 7:33 remaining in the first quarter, setting the stage for an eventual 45-14 domination of the visitors.

“We just love running this year,” Balluff said. “We have a huge line that’s just dominant, and anybody can run behind them and get a touchdown, seriously.”

For Kaneland football, it’s the 30th consecutive regular season win in a row. The Knights haven’t lost a non-conference regular season matchup in four years, last dropping a 2009 matchup to Huntley.

It was a departure for the Knights crew, who last played someone other than Marmion Academy or Huntley in the season’s second game back in 2004, in a 34-0 win over Ridgewood High School.

Quarterback Drew David went 10-for-17 for 165 yards on the night, while Balluff went 185 yards on 16 carries.

On the next KHS drive, the Knights executed a 10-play drive with a concentration on ball-control. Matt Rodriguez booted a 38-yard field goal to give the hosts a 10-0 lead with 1:05 remaining in the quarter.

The ICC (1-1) drive that followed was stopped in its tracks after one play after a rush on the quarterback by Isaac Swithers resulted in a fumble recovery by Andrew Kray.

A touchdown pass to John Pruett was called back due to a penalty, but Balluff took charge with a 35-yard touchdown scamper on the next play for a 17-0 edge with 15 ticks left in the frame.

The opposing Knights finally got on the board with 8:13 left in the second on a six-yard touchdown run to close within 17-7.

Balluff had three carries on the next drive for Kaneland and scored his third touchdown of the game, with a 1-yarder up the middle for a 24-7 edge with 5:59 remaining in the half.

Kaneland’s defense took over on the next ICC drive, with Ryan Bower emerging with a sack. Four plays later, linebacker Cole Carlson picked off a pass and went 51-yards down the sideline for a touchdown and a 31-7 lead with 2:41 to go in the half.

The third quarter officially put the game on ice, despite a fourth-quarter score by ICC. Nauert ran the ball in from the 10 with 7:32 remaining in the third for a 38-7 lead, and a three-yard touchdown with 2:43 to go in the third for a 45-7 lead.

A running clock scenario was almost set into motion, but a punt return TD by Nauert was flagged for an illegal block at the tail-end of the third quarter.

KHS coach Tom Fedderly was pleased to see the early gameplan come to fruition.

“We thought we had the advantage up front,” Fedderly said. “We were going to keep running the ball until they stopped it.”

Sept. 13 sports recap

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Freshman Football
At Aurora Christian—In a tight game, the freshman football Knights lost to the Aurora Christian Eagles 34-32. No stats were provided.

Sophomore Football
vs. IC Catholic Prep—The Knight sophomore football team shut out visiting IC Catholic Prep 40-0 Friday night. No stats were provided.

Sophomore Soccer
vs. Streamwood—Andy Tovar had the only Kaneland goal as the Knights deadlocked with Streamwood 1-1 Monday. The Sophomore team now sits at 0-0-1.

Freshman Volleyball
vs. Aurora Central Catholic—The freshmen volleyball teams defeated Aurora Central Catholic Thursday. The A squad won 26-24, 25-14, while the B group won 27-25, 25-14.
vs. Montini—Both freshman squads handled visiting Montini Monday. The A squad defeated the Broncos 25-13, 25-14, while the B squad won 25-16, 25-17. No stats were provided.

Sophomore Volleyball
vs. Aurora Central Catholic—Thursday saw the sophomore volleyball team lose 25-23, 21-25, 23-25 in a close match against ACC.
vs. Montini—The Lady Knights lost a close match to visiting Montini 25-23, 21-25, 14-25 on Monday. No stats were provided.
vs. LaSalle-Peru—Tuesday saw KHS fall 13-25, 28-26, 25-15 to visiting LaSalle-Peru.

Fr/So Golf
vs. Yorkville—Tuesday’s tilt against visiting Yorkville was fruitful for the Knights Fr/So golf team. Brett Glennon led all golfers with a 39, while Luke Calabrese shot a 45. Dan Franck and Jake Pearson each shot a 47 to finish the scoring. The Knights defeated the Foxes 178-192.

Friday Preview: IC Catholic Prep vs. Kaneland

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Kaneland now hosts IC Catholic Prep of Elmhurst, Ill., on Friday, Sept. 6, in Maple Park at 7:30 p.m.

IC Catholic beat Chicago’s Noble Street Charter by a 47-6 clip on Saturday. As part of the Suburban Christian Gold Conference, the Knights are headed by second-year coach Bill Krefft. The Class 2A State champs in 2008, the Knights have gone to the playoffs for four consecutive seasons, and gone 7-4 three of the last four campaigns.

“We’re going to take a look at what we’ve got,” Tom Fedderly said. “It’s our first game and now we got something on film.”

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