Photo: Elburn native Ryley Bailey had 86 catches for 1,047 yards for UW-Platteville’s football team this season. It was a school record for catches, and only the second time in school history a receiver recorded over 1,000 yards in a season. Courtesy Photo
Former KHS pass-catcher Bailey continues high level of play for UW-Platteville
KANELAND—A local buzz for something like the Division III football playoffs can be excused, especially with the deep semifinal run from Naperville, Ill.-outlet North Central College.
Look deeper, and you’d see even more reason to follow.
Kaneland High School Class of 2010 member Ryley Bailey, who played both sides of the ball for Knight playoff contenders in 2008 and 2009, also made a playoff run in D-III for the University of Wisconsin-Platteville (UW-P) Pioneers football roster.
UW-P, with the senior Bailey, made it to the second round before losing to North Central, 52-24, at Benedetti-Wehrli Stadium in Naperville, Ill., to finish at 10-2, which tied a school win record.
“It was just a great feeling,” Bailey said. “It was a great group of guys and an amazing feeling, and it wouldn’t have happened without guys like Quinn (Buschbacher, fellow Kaneland football alum) and (quarterback) John Kelly.”
Bailey, of Elburn, was also one of six Pioneers this month to get a D3Football.com 2013 All-West Region award for outstanding play.
Helping Bailey throughout his Pioneer tenure was the similarity to Kaneland’s noted spread offense.
“I fit right in, which was kind of unique for me I was the receiver that kind of went across the middle. They needed me to do the dirty work in there, because I’m not as fast as the other guys.”
Doing the dirty work this year yielded 86 receptions for 1,047 yards, on his way to becoming the second Pioneer in school history to record over 1,000 yards receiving in a season. The senior receiver averaged 7.17 receptions per game for 87.2 yards per game.
His 86 catches also set a new school record and ranked fourth most in Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference history.
The wideout came in with accomplished skills, but resolved to pick up his game this season to help make a postseason run.
“You had to stay focused. You had to be ready to do the little things. It was tough this year because of all the hype. We really had a target on our back,” Bailey said.
The Pioneers, paced by assets like Bailey, Buschbacher (28 catches) and Trevor Whitehead (81 catches) in its wide-open offense, had a season to remember, only to end in DuPage County.
Despite that, Bailey, a first-team all-WIAC member, was able to hold his head up, even catching two touchdowns in the season-ender.
“I’ll remember that game, and I was rooting for (North Central) on Saturday when they lost (41-40 to Mount Union in D-III semifinals). That and the win over Wisconsin-Oskhosh, where we got a late field goal to get us into the playoffs, were what I’ll remember. Those were really emotional,” Bailey said.
Bailey isn’t done with the Wisconsin setting yet, as he works toward his degree.
“I’d like to still be around the football (progam) up here and help the team and the receivers,” Bailey said. “I know football, and football’s been good to me.”