Batavia passes opening challenge with flying colors
Golden confetti glistened in the air while chants of "one more week" reverberated throughout the Batavia home stands.
The scoreboard, an ultimate 46-0 Batavia victory over Brother Rice in the opening round of the Class 7A postseason, still had at least two minutes dripping down before it was official.
Batavia, after an 8-1 regular season and a perfect 7-0 showing through the DuKane Conference, left zero doubt on the field who was king of the field on Friday night.
The Bulldogs (9-1) led a stunning 33-0 at the half, and their backup offense played the entire fourth quarter. They await Lincoln-Way Central in the next round. Time TBA, but it'll be hosted in Batavia.
The Crusaders (5-5), who put up a combined 66 points in the final two weeks of the regular season to earn their way into the postseason, were offensively stonewalled. Batavia's starting defense forced five punts, three turnovers and limited Crusaders standout running back Randall Nauden to 32 rushing yards.
The running clock was going by the opening minute of the third quarter.
"We wanted to send a message before the week," senior wideout/defensive back Luke Alwin said. "Honestly, preparing for the game, we knew it was going to be a tough task. We just wanted to come out as prepared as possible. I think our scout [team] gave us an amazing look all week, so with that, I think we came really ready. I mean, we just executed perfectly."
Both teams traded punts to start the game, but it didn't take long for Batavia to explode from there.
Senior running back Charlie Whelpley found the end zone with 2:17 left in the first quarter for a 7-0 Batavia lead. After the Batavia defense forced a three-and-out, quarterback Ryan Boe, a North Dakota State commit, connected with Alwin for a 33-yard touchdown on the first play of the drive for a 14-0 lead.
Boe then found CJ Valente for an 18-yard score on a rollout, Isaiah Brown on a 33-yard score and his own rushing touchdown to make it 33-0 at the half.
Out of the locker room, Brother Rice quarterback Marcus Brown was intercepted by Josh Kahley, which set-up an immediate 10-yard rushing score by Zach Granberg one minute into the third quarter. The following Crusaders possession, Batavia linebacker Jacob Feller scooped up a fumble by Ryan Hartz, which Nathan Whitwell cashed in from 12 yards out for a 46-0 lead.
After Batavia put the majority of defensive starters on the sideline, linebacker Kameron McLeod recovered a fumble with 30 seconds left in the third quarter to put the bow on a dominating effort.
"Huge shoutout to our scout offense [who ran] two huddles going every week and just a great tempo going, so we're able to replicate a lot of game snaps and formations," senior linebacker Ben Brown said. "And, we're able to adjust and make connections in the game, and not a lot of teams are able to do that, so huge shoutout to those guys.
"Then, obviously our starters, we're just working our butts off every day and we're motivated."
Boe, meanwhile, continued right where he left off in the regular season with 75 rushing yards, 226 passing yards and three passing touchdowns and one rushing score.
The DuKane Conference slate got the Bulldogs ready to unleash into the postseason.
"Our league is so tough because everybody knows everybody," Batavia coach Dennis Piron said. "Everybody you play, you've got to play close to the vest. It's a chess match because there are very good coaches, the programs know each other, everyone has had to elevate their level to keep up with one another, so what you're getting is some really fine football people don't understand [from the outside] sometimes.
"As the season goes on, again, you've got to be careful against your opponents not to show too much or do too much, so the games are tight. Well, we haven't been able to kind of let loose. We've really practiced well the last couple weeks. I really feel like everyone's on the same page. Our defense, which was kind of young and new ... they're at where you think they'd be [with defensive coordinator Matt Holm]."
Brother Rice coach Casey Quedenfeld wasn't immediately available following the game.