I saw this one coming for weeks. No one in 6A was going to beat Batavia in the playoffs.
The Bulldogs topped Richards 34-14 on Saturday for the Class 6A, so my gut feeling was correct all along: The front page of Sunday's Daily Herald would be shouting out about the first state football title for a Tri-Cities team. It would mean Batavia has a prize to go alongside those that neighboring Kaneland and Aurora Christian have secured over the years.
Based on the few times I saw Batavia play this year, it would have taken a monster game from Richards to stop the Bulldogs this time.
But regardless of reaching the pinnacle of high school football, one memory will stand out. I covered the Bulldogs' only loss when they fell 31-26 to Richards in the second game of the season. After the game, Batavia quarterback Micah Coffey spoke to Richards' quarterback Hasan Muhammad-Rogers at midfield. Muhammad-Rogers told sports writers afterward that he told Coffey he really did well against Richards' excellent defense.
As the Batavia players got together for postgame comments, it was Coffey, a senior in his final season, who rallied his teammates by assuring them the early-season loss would make them stronger.
"Our goal hasn't changed," he said. "It is to get to state and win it."
So, no matter what happened yesterday in DeKalb, this was a sterling example of what a leader is all about.
Yes, Batavia's football team had a lot of key moving parts and a strong coaching staff to mold it.
But a leader on the field remains the most important ingredient for any team, whether it is sports, business or politics.
Micah Coffey has an excellent head start in taking on such a role.
Chess fever: Most of our friends don't believe my wife has stayed with me all these years after hearing this story: On our honeymoon night, I left my new bride alone in our hotel room for several hours because I got sucked into a game of chess!
That's right. Two old gents were playing chess in the lobby of our resort in St. Thomas. My wife and I walked by and I told these fellows I was a pretty good player. Their match was just ending, and the winner asked if I wanted to play.
I told my wife this guy would probably wipe me out in no time, so she agreed to sit and watch for a bit. That "bit" turned into an hour and she went back to our room. But I couldn't bail on the game. At this point, I thought I had a chance to win.
I could tell this fellow was surprised he didn't make quick work of me. What seemed like two hours later, he finally claimed a hard-earned victory. And my wife had her first lesson in living with a knucklehead.
Why share this story now? Because the news release for the Family Chess Night scheduled for 6 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at Geneva High School cafeteria reminded me of it.
Any students or families of the school district who think they have the brainpower to excel at this game have a chance to show it off at this event sponsored by the high school chess club. Actually, the event is open to all ages and skill levels, including those who have never played and would like to learn.
And another plus is that pizzas will be available, if you want to pitch in to help pay for them. Those planning on attending should send a note to Brian Schmidt at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Another big cane: Alain Roby isn't going to make another "world's longest candy cane" for the Geneva Christmas Walk next weekend. But the owner of the All Chocolate Kitchen is doing the next best thing.
Roby will celebrate the anniversary of his creation of a 51-foot candy cane by making a 10-foot replica and showing that off in his store at 33 S. Third St., starting at 6 p.m. next Saturday.
An hour later, Santa Claus makes an unconventional appearance on what the All Chocolate Kitchen staff is calling "his custom-made Harley-Davidson motorcycle."
Apparently, Roby or his staff will use a "magical" golden hammer to break up the 10-foot candy cane into tiny pieces for guests to enjoy.
A magical hammer and a Harley? How do you pass up that combo?
Art for charity: Kevin Hoeppner of Batavia is exhibiting some of his artwork at the Limestone coffee shop on Wilson Street through Dec. 29. But the account manager for a telecommunications company is doing it because the display falls in line with his goal -- establishing a charity foundation in retirement in which his skills in artwork, videography and calligraphy can help fund worthy causes.
Hoeppner will donate all proceeds from the sale of his work to his daughters' favorite charities -- Hole in the Wall Gang for children with disabilities and 185 for Heroes to help wounded war veterans.
Limestone is hosting a reception for Hoeppner from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. next Sunday at the coffee shop.
If you like seascape and cityscape paintings, you may want to check out Hoeppner's work.
A learning station: The Tri-Cities are really good at sharing history with longtime and new residents. Batavia will do it in impressive fashion at the corner of Wilson Street and Island Avenue when a new information station is completed to display the history of downtown businesses.
It will include "historic" columns from a Batavia structure that downtown groups spotted in an 1888 photo of a celebration in downtown Batavia.
The Batavia MainStreet organization has another winner on its hands.
A great burger: It had been far too long since I had a cheeseburger at McNally's Irish Pub in St. Charles. That wait ended a week or so ago.
I gobbled up the "Jameson Geoff's Pub Burger" and it was excellent.
Put McNally's on your lunch list if you haven't stopped in lately at 109 W. Main St.