Batavia clinches DuKane title with win over WW South
Batavia coach Dennis Piron blurted out the three words that caused an uproar from his team late Friday night.
After the Bulldogs recorded a workmanlike 28-14 victory over Wheaton Warrenville South in DuKane Conference play at Red Grange Field, Piron gathered his team together for a brief postgame chat.
He praised his team for putting together an efficient and hard-fought effort against the upstart Tigers, but then proudly yelled out “Undisputed conference champions.”
The Bulldogs added yet another milestone to their program, knocking off the Tigers on their Senior Night to claim the conference title.
“Wheaton Warrenville South played hard and was really well-prepared and well-coached and their kids were highly motivated and on the rise and have continued to improve, but we knew what to expect,” Piron said. “We thought it would be a good football game. We didn't mind grinding it out a bit. We try and be as diverse as we can, but we like to always be a power football team. When the time came to do that, we did. I'm proud of the boys. We were very physical. The tapestry of this season has been an amazing thing.”
The Bulldogs won the battle at the line of scrimmage, with their defense limiting the Tigers' rushing attack. On offense, the Bulldogs took advantage of several short fields and relied on their offensive line to chew up small chunks of yards and clock to win the battle of possession.
The Bulldogs' defense limited Wheaton Warrenville South to 48 rushing yards, with senior star running back Matt Crider carrying the ball 23 times for 50 yards and scoring a 1-yard touchdown.
“They were a really sound defense, covering the gaps and all the holes and they did a great job,” Crider said. “Their defensive line was tough. Our O-line was pushing. We tried our best. I'm so proud of our guys. We fought until the end. We will fight this week in practice and get ready for St. Charles East.”
Piron said the Bulldogs buckled down and played hard-nosed on both sides of the ball.
“Our linemen on both sides of the ball are such bright and hard-working kids,” Piron said. “We tell them to win the trenches. We weren't able to bounce (wide) offensively. In all phases, we did a nice job.”
Batavia senior defensive lineman Jordan Buckley said the key was stopping the Tigers' rushing attack.
“It was fun tonight,” Buckley said. “Our defensive line practices a run stop defense. We knew (Crider) was good, but I believe our tackling got better over the week and we were able to stop them. We knew they had a tough time running on us. We're undisputed conference now.”
Batavia star quarterback Ryan Boe, a North Dakota State recruit, didn't have his customary big game, but he had a steady performance passing and running. Boe passed for 88 yards and a touchdown and ran for 32 yards and a TD.
Boe put the game away with a lengthy drive in the fourth quarter, helped by two key plays that extended the possession. His seven-yard pass on fourth down to Patrick McNamara gave the Bulldogs (7-1, 6-0) a first down with just under six minutes left. A few plays later, Boe had a three-yard run on fourth down with just over two minutes left.
Batavia running back Nathan Whitwell closed out the lengthy drive with a 4-yard touchdown with 2:12 remaining. Batavia running back Charlie Whelpley finished with 10 carries for 49 yards.
But Boe's poise running down the clock on each play to go with the solid blocking from his offensive line spoiled any chance for the Tigers to mount a late comeback.
“We expected to make more plays than we did, but our offensive line played great and we relied on our power run game, which saved us just being able to pound the ball,” Boe said. “Our coaches did a great job on that last drive.”
The Tigers (4-4, 3-3) nearly pulled off a big upset, but fell victim to Batavia capitalizing on three short fields to score a pair of touchdowns, including a two-play drive that ended with Boe tossing a 15-yard TD strike to C.J. Valente for a 14-7 lead late in the second quarter.
Wheaton Warrenville South sophomore Zach Rogers put himself in unique company by becoming just the second player to intercept a pass by Boe this season. Rogers snared his pick early in the second quarter.
The Tigers picked up a solid effort from quarterback Luca Carbonaro, who threw for 119 yards. The junior had a gutsy effort leading the Tigers to a pair of touchdowns, highlighted by an 11-yard strike on a roll out to his right to Joe Preede to tie the game at 7-7 in the second quarter.
Wheaton Warrenville South coach Sean Norris said his players showed a lot of fight battling the Bulldogs to the final whistle. The Bulldogs entered the game averaging 35 points, including scoring 54 points last week against St. Charles East. The Tigers have a must-win game at St. Charles East if they want to make the playoffs.
“They got some short fields and with their experience at quarterback and their offense, they took advantage of it,” Norris said. “I do think our defense responded really well. We made a few mistakes. On offense, we had some opportunities but didn't capitalize.”