MAPLE PARK—Kaneland High School athletics fans can purchase season passes, ranging from one sports season to an all-encompassing pass that covers all football, volleyball, wrestling and girls and boys basketball games. The passes are good for the 2014-15 school year.
Normal entry fees are $4 for adults and $2 for elementary and middle school students.
The passes do not include tournaments or state-level competitions.
The types of passes available are as follows:
Adult Single Season Pass
• football (five events) $16
• volleyball (nine events) $32
• wrestling (five events) $16
• girls basketball (eight events) $28
• boys basketball (seven events) $24
Adult Fall Sports Pass
• football and volleyball (14 events) $35
Adult All Sports Pass
• football, volleyball, wrestling, girls basketball and boys basketball (34 events) $90
All Sports Family Pass
• All five sports (34 events) for two adults and all children in the immediate family $125
Elementary/Middle School Student
Single Season Pass (one sport)
• football* $8
• volleyball $16
• wrestling $8
• girls basketball $14
• boys basketball $12 * Elementary and middle school students must be accompanied by an adult at home football games
To receive any of the listed passes, visit khs.kaneland.org/athletics and look for the “Purchased Passes” link to download the form. Checks should be made out to “Kaneland High School” and should be turned in with the form to the Kaneland High School athletic office.
Two Kaneland volleyball players, Jessie Weber (back row, second from right) and Maddie Keifer (back row, third from right) were part of the Kane County Juniors club team that placed third at the Volleyball Festival International Championships in Phoenix June 26-29. Photo submitted by Bob Webber to firstname.lastname@example.org
Kane County Juniors finish third in 15-year-old bracket in Phoenix
PHOENIX—Summer is a time for local athletes to showcase themselves in a realm outside the Maple Park fields and courts.
Lady Knight volleyball talents Jessie Weber and Maddie Keifer did so in Phoenix last month as part of the annual Volleyball Festival International Championships June 26-29.
Housed at the Phoenix Convention Center, the festival featured teams from the 12-through-18 age range on the club circuit, and had a majority of teams from Arizona, California and Washington, and teams like Weber and Keifer’s Kane County Juniors 15 Gold squad to complete the 73-team age bracket.
The extravaganza also featured teams from British Columbia and Trinidad and Tobago.
The Gold crew, with head coach KC Johnsen, went 8-2 during the four-day trial and finished in third place.
In the Saturday championship bracket, the Gold side beat Epic 15-Shawn in a 25-20, 25-20 match before beating Legacy 15 Elite in a 25-22, 25-23 affair. The Juniors took a 25-17, 25-21 rematch with Epic 15-Shawn before losing to eventual winner AZ Sky 15 Gold, 23-25, 25-21, 15-3, which stopped the eight-match win streak, and second-place club El Paso Stars 15 Blue, 25-12, 25-13, in the double elimination chance.
Assistant coach Cindy Weber, Jessie’s mother, felt it was a successful tournament gathering.
“For lack of a better term, the other teams were gunning for us,” Weber said. “We didn’t have their height, but we were a quick team out there.”
With teams from all over, the Kane County crew was no stranger to unique settings like Phoenix and a Navy Pier tournament last month, Weber said.
“We were able to get our kills and blocks in, and it was really a fun experience. The Kane County Juniors have been to Arizona, and we were very excited to go again this time,” Weber said.
The 15 Gold contingent improved to 59-13 with the Phoenix performance.
IHSA releases 2014 football schedule
KANELAND—In a conference landscape that’s shifting, so, too, did the 2014 slate for Kaneland Knights football.
Looking to qualify for the IHSA playoffs for the seventh consecutive year but losing a talented 2013 class, the Knights face a nine-game list of opponent that finished a combined 54-40 last year. That includes six playoff qualifiers: Chicago’s Brooks, Rich Central, Northern Illinois Big XII East division mates DeKalb, Yorkville and Sycamore, and new West division foe Rochelle.
With the schedule released last Thursday, Kaneland, who was ousted in the second-round of the Class 5A playoffs by Joliet Catholic in November 2013, is slated to travel to playoff qualifier Brooks Prep of Chicago on Friday, Aug. 29, at 7:15 p.m. The fourth season of the opening-week rivalry between the Knights and Eagles has no listed site yet, but had taken place at Chicago’s Gately Stadium in 2012.
On Friday, Sept. 5, Kaneland has its home opener against Chicago’s Marshall High School, with the game at 7 p.m., the lone contest not scheduled for 7:15 p.m. this season.
On Friday, Sept. 12, the Knights host the Rich Central Olympians of Olympia Fields, Ill. The school finished 9-2 and is a representative of the Southland Conference.
The NIB-12 East Division, with one less team, sees action with Kaneland traveling to Campbell Field on Friday, Sept. 19, to face playoff qualifier Yorkville. DeKalb comes to Peterson Field on Friday, Sept. 26, having qualified for postseason play a year ago, as well. Friday, Oct. 3, has Kaneland trecking to the site of the end of its 35-game win streak, Sycamore, to face the Spartans (12-1 in 2013). The East division section of the schedule features Morris coming to Maple Park on Friday, Oct. 10, as Morris tries to rebound from a lowly 3-6 season.
The last two regular season challenges feature Kaneland going to LaSalle-Peru on Friday, Oct. 17, for the first time since 2011, and hosting Rochelle on Friday, Oct. 24. KHS has won seven straight against the Hubs.
Rochelle joins the West division as part of the NIB-12 landscape that now has 10 teams.
Dixon joined the Big Northern Conference West division, along with Byron, Mendota, Oregon, Rock Falls, Rockford Lutheran, Stillman Valley and Winnebago.
Streator left for the Interstate Eight Conference Large division along with Coal City, Manteno, Peotone, Plano and Sandwich.
The first day of football practice is set for Monday, Aug. 11.
Photo: Junior Tyler Paulson makes a long catch and runs in for a Kaneland touchdown. Photo by Mary Paulson
Knights’ get reps in 7-on-7 setting at NIU
KANELAND—Preseason football practices look to be here before you know it.
The Kaneland Knights could think of no better setting to get drills and work in before that time than the campus of Northern Illinois University this past Saturday.
KHS, along with 23 other teams from around the state, participated in 7-on-7 exhibitions, as they did last year, with coach Tom Fedderly enjoying and taking notes of the setting.
“I was really happy with how it went,” Fedderly said. “It’s a big challenge just getting out there and getting started, and we’re pretty excited.”
Kaneland was in a pool with opponents Waubonsie Valley, Rockridge, Rich Central, DeKalb and Watertown High School of Wisconsin.
“We had 26 guys there for our side and playing offense and defense. It was cool for them to play on the turf, and then after two games we got to play at the new indoor facility, which was cool,” Fedderly said.
As with other sports, a crucial element for a team that has had two consecutive second-round exits but just one regular season loss since 2009 is getting familiar on the field once again.
“I really liked what they did and what I saw out there. The 26 guys stepped up. There’s a number of these guys that are balancing football and baseball, and as we hit July those go away and we really get into football,” Fedderly said.
Familiar faces laced the KHS roster, according to Fedderly, with standouts expected to show the same field presence like Isaac Swithers, Kevin Fuchs and Mitch Groen.
“Connor (Fedderly) caught a lot of balls and had a good day out there,” Fedderly said.
For KHS football, other 7-on-7 challenges lie in the form of an Aurora Christian setting on Tuesday, July 8, and Saturday, July 12, at Willowbrook in Villa Park, Ill.
Kaneland grad Heckert utilizes experience to coach, run marathons
PLAINFIELD, Ill.—As a multi-sport athlete at Kaneland High School nearly a full decade ago, Kristen Heckert used her immense talent to cross many a State-qualifying finish line.
Now as a math teacher and coach at Plainfield South High School, she’s been responsible for honing young athletes’ talent, while finding time to reach finish lines as a member of New Balance Chicago racing.
Having finished her college athletics career at University of Illinois-Chicago, Heckert soon made her way to a teaching post at KHS before landing at Plainfield South before the 2012-13 school year.
Heckert was the girls cross country coach this past season and assistant track coach, and plans to step into an assistant XC role to better concentrate on marathons when the New Balance banners fly.
There’s important overlap with the two.
“I try to talk about my running a little bit,” Heckert said. “I stepped down to an assistant for more time to train. My running is really important to me and I want to see what I can do with it. I didn’t want it to conflict with coaching. They should have a coach that is with them 100 percent, and nothing is more important than that,” Heckert said.
If anything, Heckert gets a built-in support staff in addition to her New Balance racing outfit, which most recently saw a 36:03 effort at United Run For The Zoo at Lincoln Park Zoo, tops in the 10K women’s division.
“They know that I am competing and know what my end goal is, but it’s not about me, it’s about the girls. They are so supportive, and the coaching staff and boys program is so supportive. It helps, because you let them know they always have to stretch and run. These kids are doing it all the time and combined with school. It just gives you an extra push,” Heckert said.
Now a three-time veteran of the Bank of America Chicago Marathon held in October, Heckert finished in 20th in the womens’ division with a 2:47.56 in 2012 and 2:44.12 in 2013. From the former Lady Knight’s perspective, there’s nothing not to like about the experience.
“There’s not outside pressure ever,” Heckert said. “There’s so many people. The pressue comes from ourselves. It’s kind of ‘go out there and see what you can do.” The racing team is so supportive and everyone wants the best for you. It’s a wonderful experience. To get that support from people who don’t even know you and are out at six in the morning, it’s wonderful and it’s a great accomplishment for anyone who does it.”
Having also competed in the Chicago Half-Marathon in September with a time of 1:19.18 and the DeKalb Corn Classic 10K last summer in 36:11, Heckert has plenty of great performances to draw from and still tries to match memorable runner highs.
“That first marathon was so perfect, it felt good. I thought they were all going to be that way, but the last two were so painful and hurt so much. I’ve been so lucky when it comes to injuries. You always wake up sore, but I haven’t had anything where I need to take time off, so I’m very thankful for that,” Heckert said.
With her 2012 Bank of America time in Chicago and top Illinois finisher, Heckert was able to be invited to a marathon in Osaka, Japan, but declined the task because it coincided with Plainfield South cross country regionals.
She was once again the top Illinois finisher in 2013, and Osaka won’t be a problem with an assistant coach job.
“If Osaka is offered to me this year, I’ll definitely take it,” Heckert said.
Heckert has more aspirations, only in the form of U.S. Olympic Trials in Los Angeles in 20 months, where she’ll need a 2:43.
“I would love to run in the Olympic Trials (March 2016), that’s the end-all, be-all goal. I have a lot of opportunities with coaching and teammates. I would love to do that with running, and be running with the top Americans ever,” Heckert said.
With her brothers and sisters in cross-trainers, the journey will be noteworthy and fast.
“We always do the Palos race, the Soldier Field 10-miler—those will wipe me out—and the Zoo race is sponsored by New Balance,” Heckert said. “We do the Human Race in Oak Brook, which has the money go to great causes. I don’t like racing a lot, and I’ve raced a lot this year. I love training.”
A couple hole-in-ones were shot at Hughes Creek Golf Club in Elburn this past week. On May 21, Deb Peterson (right) of St. Charles shot a hole-in-one on the 140-yard hole No. 17, a par 3. Peterson’s shot was witnessed by Ken Peterson. On Sunday, Elburn’s Joel Speckman (below) shot a hole-in-one on the 152-yard hole No. 3, a par 3. Speckman used a Callaway Razr X 7 iron with a Callaway golf ball. Speckman’s wife, Sue, was the witness.
DUBUQUE, IOWA—The University of Dubuque captured its first men’s golf title in 39 years after posting a 7-shot victory at the 2014 Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (IIAC) Men’s Golf Championships.
Kaneland grads Josh Schuberg and Troy Krueger are members of the team, placing sixth and t-20th respectively. Schuberg was also named to the all-conference team for his efforts.
The former KHS pair and their new team now head to the NCAA Division III National Championship May 13-16.
Kaneland junior Zack Thielk set an Illinois state record at the World Association of Bench Pressers and Deadlifters championship in Wisconsin Dells, Wis., two weekends ago. Thielk bench pressed 342 pounds at the competition.
KANELAND—High school athletes’ talent can bring them amazing things: wins, titles and even the chance to keep playing the sport they love.
With powerhouses like senior Joe Komel, future Central Michigan University Chippewa, it also brings certainty.
“I think every kid wants to ideally compete at that next level,” Komel said.
That’s echoed by speedster classmate Kyle Carter.
“I just knew I wanted to go to the next level and I knew I didn’t want to stop,” Carter said.
Last month, 13 Kaneland High School athletes participated in National Signing Day, with several athletes signing letters of intent with Division I schools.
For a speedster like Brandon Bishop, who signed as a preferred walk-on at the University of Iowa, he’s aware of the unique task and slot that awaits him on the gridiron.
“I just look at it as I get to do a sport that I love to play. I don’t look at it as a job,” Bishop said.
One of six Knight football players that signed to play with various levels of college programs, Bishop doesn’t know how big of a role he’ll have as part of the Hawkeye program, but will take what comes.
“Any level of college football is big time,” Bishop said. “I was originally with a D-II school, but once you experience a Big 10 program, you dream about that stuff. It’s a big-time mentality there.”
Bishop was also present at a Hawkeyes practice when the squad was practicing for the Outback Bowl in Tampa, that resulted in a 21-14 loss on New Year’s Day to LSU.
“It’s an eye-opener, and I was fortunate to see it,” Bishop said. “They have great facilities in the Big 10.”
Bishop, who wishes to major in social work and possibly be a position coach, is no stranger to the work as a gridiron and track standout.
“It just matters that I compete. I believe in myself to play at that level,” Bishop said.
Bishop joined fellow Knight football gladiators Justin Diddell (Indiana State), Gary Koehring (St. Cloud State), Komel (Central Michigan), Dylan Nauert (St. Cloud State) and Tyler Slamans (Western Illinois) in the Class of 2018 football group.
Komel joins a Mid-American Conference outfit that also boasts former Knight offensive threat Blake Serpa.
“Blake is good friends with my older brother, Sam, and he was able to help me meet with officials from the football program. I had been looking at MAC and Missouri schools,” Komel said.
Komel, part of the solid offensive line that yielded three consecutive Northern Illinois Big XII championships, feels the success at KHS helped buoy him and his chances at the top collegiate level.
“When CMU talked with me, they told me that I came from a program that knows how to win, and that’s what a lot of those schools are looking for,” Komel said. “Kaneland prepared me for that and they know how to win.”
The spring season action in the higher collegiate ranks look to highlight Sydney Strang (Indiana-Purdue at Fort Wayne) and Carter (Southern Illinois), who are joined by Nathaniel Kucera, who recently committed to Stanford track.
Kucera’s options opened up after receiving a packet from universities following the June Midwest Distance Festival at Benedictine University in Lisle, Ill.
“Things really opened up for me after that,” Kucera said. “I would have competed at any level after high school, Division III, whatever, but I jumped at the chance.”
Kucera, who’s a verbal commitment to the Pac-12 Conference school, visited the Palo Alto, Ca., institution in the fall.
“It was a surreal moment whenever you get out there. They are such high-caliber athletes, but I was able to talk to everyone on the team. There’s no big egos there,” Kucera said.
The senior looks to be taking a different path than his fellow classmates, all the way to the west coast.
“The first time I got there, it was mindblowing and not something I pictured. It’s a really beautiful city,” Kucera said.
Carter, who’s excelled at cross country and track for his four years as a State qualifier, always had a continuation of his gifts in mind.
“I was getting contacted by D1 schools. I think going to State multiple times and being the best in the NIB-12 prepared me,” Carter said.
Strang, headed to Division 1-AA territory, echoes her distance counterpart.
“I’m glad to move on,” Strang said. “Running is such a part of me. I have so much passion for it. My teammates and (coach Doug) Ecker helped me through it all and help keep that. I just want to continue getting better and keep my love for it.”
Commonplace among the Knight athletes that get picked is a flexibility that comes with the wide-eyed enthusiasm.
“I’ll be able to go anywhere, and wherever they need me next year,” Carter said. “I just want to compete with the best.”
Kaneland’s presence of Division I athletes, which includes the trio of Lanie Callaghan (Valparaiso), Lexi Roach (Youngstown State) and Lauren Zick (St. John’s) that committed to D-I softball outfits in late 2013, not only have the athletic talent, but also seem to know what to expect.
For those that have seen the group in action, that comes as no surprise.
Clinton named to All-American list by USA Triathlon, preparing for Florida race
ELBURN—With the mood-crushing winter season still upon us, the urge to get outside and participate in athletic activities can weigh heavily.
Lady Knight sophomore Victoria Clinton can do something about it right now, and looks to push herself more than most.
Clinton, named last week to the Junior Elite All-American list for USA Triathlon in the 16-19 age group category as an Honorable Mention, looks to participate with her fellow MMTT members at the PATCO North American Junior Championship on Saturday, March 8.
The honor is a big deal, considering its Clinton’s first year in the category.
“You have to keep in mind that prior to her injuries, she was near No. 1 in those rankings, and near the top of the overall standings,” coach Steve Brandes said. “She’s extremely consistent; her biggest attribute is consistency.”
The Sarasota, Fla.-based event provides a chance for Clinton, the 2012 Class AA State cross country individual champ, to swim, bike and run with five other team members from the western suburbs against a field that includes athletes from Mexico and Canada.
Clinton, who owns the fifth-best Class AA State-winning time in cross country at 16:56, can use her cross country experience to perform at a high level this weekend.
“Cross country is pure racing, there are no splits,” Brandes said. “Victoria is very good at rising to that top level. She’s a state champ, and cross country makes her tough. It’s about racing hard, and she’s very strong.”
Clinton has also managed to qualify for the Pan American Cup in early June in Monterrey, Mexico, as one of eight American females vying for the lone Youth Olympics Games spot taking place in China this summer.
Clinton’s last competition under the ITU (International Triathlon Union) Triathlon banner came in June 2013 at the Pan American Championships in Vila Velha, Brazil. Clinton finished eighth in the junior women category with a clip of 1:07:24.
Brandes, in his first year of working with Clinton, feels there will be no off-base expectations.
“That’s what you sign up for with these international events. It’s her biggest test against tough competition,” Brandes said.
Lady Knight star-turned-college libero wins prestigious Augustana honor
ROCK ISLAND, ILL.—For a rising Kaneland volleyball program in the beginning of this decade, Class of 2012 athlete Kylie Siebert of Sugar Grove could be seen digging plenty of attempts from opponents.
After two seasons as a libero for the Division III Augustana Vikings, Siebert has dug up some high accolades.
As starting libero for the Vikings, most recently 16-15 and owners of back-to-back winning records for the first time in six years, Siebert was named Most Valuable Player for the 2013-14 Augustana unit for her exceptional play.
That came on the heels of earlier namings to the All-College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin team and All-CCIW academic all-conference list.
“It’s definitely an honor,” Siebert said on Monday. “As a libero, we sometimes get overlooked.”
From a stint on the KHS squad that won 55 matches during her varsity stay, to a rigorous college circuit, Siebert was glad to have some preparation.
“It’s a lot more commitment. You have to be mentally and physically ready, and it’s a lot different of a workload,” Siebert said.
The sophomore averaged 5.3 digs a game for the Vikings, the fourth best single season rate in program history. The former Lady Knight was also third on the team with 109 assists.
Raising her game against the rotation of capable CCIW teams was satisfying to the former Northern Illinois Big XII MVP.
“There’s teams like Elmhurst, Wheaton, North Central and Carthage. We kind of struggled and get looked at as the underdogs, so this season was a big step,” Siebert said.
Siebert, attending Augustana for a business and marketing major with a minor in multimedia journalism, doesn’t plan to rest after the nice bounty of awards.
“I’m very competitive and I push myself. I’m in a lifting program now and it’s helping out,” Siebert said.
The CCIW leader in average digs per game with 5.95 per conference tilt, Siebert is already looking to a productive back half of her college tenure after adjusting to the high level.
“The college game is very disciplined, and you have to adjust and go with it,” Siebert said. “We have a new coach next year (Kelly Bethke), and I think we can fight to get in the top half of the conference.”
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.”
KANELAND—The Kaneland School Board agreed to hire two interim athletic directors for the the school year on Monday.
The two directors are Rudy Keller and Ralph Drendel.
Board member Tony Valente was the only member to vote no.
“You can go without this position for half a year,” Valente said.
The original plan had been to hire a trio of retirees, including Ross Truemper, Keller and Drendel.
Truemper and Keller worked at West Aurora High School as co-interim principal for two years and have experience in athletics and activities.
Drendel is a former Kaneland High School assistant athletic director, coach, teacher and student.
“It just turned out that Ross had some conflicts in his schedule that made it difficult for him to support us,” said Kaneland Superintendent Dr. Jeff Schuler after the meeting. “It just didn’t work out.”
According to a memorandum, Keller will receive $500 per day not to exceed 70 days. That totals up to $35,000. Drendel will receive $250 per day not to exceed 100 days. That totals up to $25,000.
“(That’s) something you can live without for six months,” Valente said. “That’s the issue in my eyes—exorbitant spending.”
Schuler spoke favorably of Keller and Drendel.
“Nothing has changed,” Schuler said. “We’re still providing the same level of support we anticipated. It’s more than just an athletics activities position. It really has a key operational focus for the entire building.”
by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—Who knew that suiting up for the Aurora Superstars 10 years ago would lead to this?
For Knights senior Drew David, toiling away in the organized tackle football ranks eventually led to being tabbed the starting quarterback three years running for Kaneland High School football. With that responsibility came numerous all-conference honors and a State semifinalist trip in 2011.
Last week, David was named to the Class 5A 2013 Illinois High School Football Coaches Association All-State Team.
“I was on my way to first period, and coach (Tom) Fedderly found me in the hallway and handed me the paper that said I was an All-Stater,” David said. “It was pretty surprising.”
Having thrown 84 touchdowns in his varsity tenure, good for sixth all-time in the state, and rushing for 14 touchdowns on his own, Fedderly was not surprised at the season-long culmination.
“That kid is just a student of the game,” Fedderly said. “We put a lot on his shoulders, especially this year. The bigger the game, the calmer he was.”
Leading the Knights offense to three winning seasons and two undefeated regular season campaigns meant an entire body of work for the Association to look upon, including an impressive 2013 outing.
“I’m not saying it was an expectation, but it was a pretty big honor. You just work for it,” David said.
David, who threw for over 7,200 yards in his varsity time, noted one instance in particular to encapsulate his Kaneland stay.
“It was the comeback win over Morris to end my junior year (Oct. 19, 2012),” David said. “It was finally playing with all my buddies, and we got a conference championship, and it was a team effort.”
With such rival skill players like Evan White of Rochelle and Ben Niemann of Sycamore also making the All-State squads, it speaks to the fierceness of the Northern Illinois Big XII, as well.
“You see all the All-Staters from the conference, and it tells you how good it is week in and week out,” Fedderly said.
While not entirely sure what lies ahead, David is exploring options to schools large and small for the 2014-15 school year.
Whether David walks on at a bigger program or plays at a larger role in a Division III outfit, Fedderly can easily relay what a team would be getting.
“They’ll get a very good student and a good kid,” Fedderly said. “Not only an All-Stater, but a quality person.”
Maple Park—Kaneland School District 302 recently announced a finalized plan for filling the position of interim athletics and activities director for the remainder of the 2013-14 school year.
The position will be filled by a team of three retired educators, who will each contribute to the program in unique ways.
Ross Truemper and Rudy Keller come to Kaneland with numerous years of administrative experience and expertise, including experience in athletics, activities and high school principalships. As retired administrators, they are well known in the area for the strong administrative support they have been able to offer school districts on an interim basis. Most recently, they worked together for two years as West Aurora High School’s interim principal.
Ralph Drendel returns to Kaneland High School as a third member of the team. As a former Kaneland High School assistant athletic director, coach, teacher and student, Ralph brings with him a passion for Kaneland and a commitment to supporting athletics and activities programming.
The team approach to filling the interim position was crafted with the goal of both supporting needs for the remainder of the current school year, as well as identifying processes and setting up systems that will promote success when the permanent position is filled.
Kaneland High School will begin gathering feedback and input from community, staff and students in January 2014 regarding the search for a permanent athletics and activities director.
Injuries, JCA juggernaut create perfect storm for 2nd-round elimination
JOLIET, ILL.—Even before the Class 5A playoffs began, Kaneland football knew what it could be getting into.
After a convincing win over first-round opponent Hampshire last week, Kaneland would have to deal with Montini Catholic and Sycamore in potential quarterfinal and semifinal matchups.
It was noted football factory Joliet Catholic on the immediate horizon at Joliet Memorial Stadium on Saturday night. With the penchant for big running plays and injuries coming together at an inopportune point for the Knights, Kaneland saw its season end in a 45-8 defeat.
It marked the second straight year that the Knights were tossed in the second round, having lost to host Lincoln-Way West by a 31-15 margin on Nov. 3, 2012.
The previous two seasons saw home semifinal losses to Montini to end those particular seasons.
Kaneland finishes the 2013 campaign at a still-exemplary 9-2, the first year since 2009 that the Knights didn’t finish with a double-digit win total. The loss to the Hilltoppers marked the lowest point total for the Knights since a 42-7 loss to former conference rival Geneva on Oct. 17, 2008.
For the Knights, early-season injuries to running back Jesse Balluff and lineman Zach Thielk converged with the round one back injury to wideout Brandon Bishop, and in-game injuries to quarterback Drew David and lineman Sam Bower to make matters difficult for the visitors.
“David tried to slide as he got hit and hurt his ribs,” KHS coach Tom Fedderly said.
David was 6-for-13 for 69 yards before being knocked out of the game. Classmate Tyler Carlson stepped in and went 10-for-18 for 95 yards.
Isaac Swithers ran for 34 yards on seven carries, and John Pruett had 55 yards receiving on five catches.
JCA had 392 yards rushing on the night, paced by Nick Borgra’s and Nick Ivlow’s 140 yards apiece.
KHS began with the ball, saw some openings and moved down the field, thanks to runs by Swithers and David and a pass to Pruett, but the drive stalled after 11 plays and 52 yards following an incomplete pass to Swithers. On the Hilltoppers’ second play from scrimmage, a counter by Ivlow resulted in a 67-yard touchdown scamper with 6:52 to go in the frame, despite Dylan Nauert almost chasing him down.
An additional drive for either team in the quarter stalled, but Joliet Catholic took control in the second quarter. Kaneland had a chance to tie matters with a pass that went through the hands of Pruett in the end zone on a second-and-10 from the 21 of JCA. Two plays later, Matt Rodriguez was wide left on a 38-yard field goal attempt.
Ivlow immediately turned around and rocketed to an 80-yard TD run on the next play with 4:58 remaining in the half for a 14-0 lead. A three-and-out for the Knights gave way to another Hilltopper possession, and Ivlow managed his third touchdown two plays later from 24 yards out, giving the hosts a 21-0 lead with 2:22 before halftime.
Ivlow would cap his astronomical first half on the next drive with a 15-yard touchdown run with 1:06 to go for his fourth touchdown and a 28-0 lead.
The floodgates would open for the Hilltoppers on a 42-yard touchdown run by Borgra with 6:17 left in the third for a 35-0 lead, followed by a 23-yard field goal by Brian Bravo with 4:00 to go for a 38-0 lead, and the running clock kicked in with a 51-yard scoring scamper by Borgra with 29 seconds to go in the third for a 45-0 lead.
Kaneland finally got on the scoreboard with an orchestrated drive that ended on a three-yard run and a two-point catch by Nate Dyer with 6:44 for the final 37-point deficit.
Dyer and company brought their skills the best they could not only throughout the season-ender, but the entire year as well, despite not being at total strength.
“It has been a rough year with injuries,” Dyer said. “Especially on the turf, that’s kind of a nightmare at times for us. Our juniors worked so hard in practice. Everybody is going to talk like all the other schools, saying ‘Our seniors are gone.’ Those kids worked just as hard. I expect them to come back firing.”
“We lost to some good teams this year, but the only thing I can say is just how grateful I am coaching these kids,” Fedderly said. “It was just a tremendous run that we had; unfortunately, when it rained, it poured with the injuries with Bishop, David and Bower. Hats off to (Joliet Catholic), they did a nice job.”
Collective effort yields fifth place in Class 2A final
PEORIA, ILL—There may have been no individual state champ for the Lady Knights cross country squad in 2013, but the team-wide effort was still something to behold.
Detweiller Park in Peoria, Ill. was the site for the Class 2A State final race, and saw the Kaneland roster’s fortunes and talent produce a fifth-place team finish.
Kaneland was led by team assets sophomore Brianna Bower, junior Aislinn Lodwig and senior Victoria Clinton, who paced the attack to a 246-point finish. The Lady Knights were given tiebreaker advantage over Chatham Glenwood.
The Lady Knights looked up at only four other teams in the Class 2A setting, with Northern Illinois Big XII rival Yorkville’s 104 points nabbing the trophy, followed by Glenbard South at 130, Vernon Hills at 181 and Marengo at 231.
Yorkville’s program has now nabbed three titles in a row.
For Kaneland, the finish marks a one-place improvement from last year’s sixth-place and 180-point output. It marked a third-straight top-10 finish, with the team finishing eighth in 2011, and marked the highest team finish in 24 years. The Lady Knights’ pack time was 1:47 last year, compared to just 54 seconds in 2013.
The overall individual champion in the competition was Riverside-Brookfield senior Mailin Struck at 16:35, beating Peoria Notre Dame’s Maryjeanne Gilbert by 29 seconds.
For Kaneland, Bower finished in 37th place with a time of 18:33, Lodwig, only healthy in the last five weeks of the year, was in 54th at 18:59, while Clinton, last year’s individual champion, took 76th overall at 19:12. Rounding out the top 5 for the Kaneland outfit were necessary components Abby Shaw and Erika Carlson, with the freshman Shaw finishing in 19:20 for 88th, and Carlson capping her senior season in 94th place with a time of 19:26.
Also taking the course for KHS were seniors Sydney Strang in 126th (19:58) and Anna Piazza in 148th (20:16).
Coach Doug Ecker couldn’t have been more pleased.
“The mark of this team was their ability to overcome injuries and setbacks, having eight or nine runners step up in various races to cover for injured or sick teammates,” Ecker said. “They truly got the most out of their season. I enjoyed every minute of coaching them.”
KHS girls cross country says goodbye to seniors Carlson, Riley Coyle, Christina Delach, Kayla Hedgren, Piazza and Strang.
Photo: Senior Nathaniel Kucera crosses the finish line at Saturday’s State meet as Kaneland’s third finisher in 15:54. Photo by Mary Paulson
Tough field meets solid resolve for 22nd place finish
PEORIA, ILL.—Without fail, every time you head down to Detweiller Park in Peoria, Ill., you’re dealing with the best Class 2A boys cross country has to offer.
It was the same in 2013 for the Kaneland roster, which finished 22nd overall as a team on Saturday, thanks to a 493-point output, beating next competitor East Peoria by 42 points. The Knights also yielded a :47 pack. Kaneland finished 15th overall in 2012.
“We are very proud of our boys nonetheless,” KHS coach Chad Clarey said. “Hundreds of teams did not have this opportunity.”
Overall, Yorkville took the Class 2A crown, thanks to a point total of 119, 15 points better than Lansing, Ill., outfit Illiana Christian. Vernon Hills finished third at 136 points.
Kaneland had a charge led by team juggernauts like Nathaniel Kucera, Andrew Lesak and Sean Spaetzel. Kucera finished 67th to lead the team with a time of 15:54, while Lesak finished 114th overall at 16:17, and Spaetzel crossed the line to end his sophomore campaign in 140th place with a time of 16:31.
“Nathaniel Kucera improved 36 places from his 2012 performance at State,” Clarey said. “He was a runner who brought a lot of humor to our season. Andrew Lesak’s first run at State was a success with a 16:16 time. He will be a leader next fall, and with good reason. He is a very unflappable, balanced and dependable runner. Sean Spaetzel pushed up to finish as our third man today. He was 20 seconds faster than on the course a year ago.”
Shoring up the KHS line were Ryan Bower at 141st with a time of 16:31, and Kyle Carter in 164th at 16:41, doing his best to fight off a stress fracture from the season’s early goings.
“No matter how hard you fight, you have days like this,” Clarey said.
Brandon Park (176th) and Luis Acosta (188th) brought up the back of the State-goers from KHS, with times of 16:50, and 17:00, respectively.
“Sometimes a team struggles, and today it happened to ours. The experiences we had will become positive reference points going forward, as the seniors prepare for an outstanding track season where all seven of them can and will once again be impact runners at the State level,” Clarey said.
Kaneland said goodbye to seniors Acosta, Bower, Dylan Kuipers, Phil Cutsinger, Carter, Kucera and Brock Robertsen.
ROCK ISLAND, ILL.—Augustana sophomore Kylie Siebert, a Sugar Grove native and Kaneland graduate, was recently named to the all-conference volleyball team in the College Conference of Illinois & Wisconsin. Siebert, a 5-foot-5 libero, was the lone representative for the Vikings.
She led the team this year in digs with 567 in 107 games played for an average of 5.30 per game. Her average of 5.30 digs per game is the fourth highest single season mark in school history. She also had 28 service aces and 109 setting assists as she helped the Vikings record a 16-15 overall record and a 3-4 mark in the CCIW. It was the second-consecutive winning record for Augustana, which went 20-11 a year ago.
Siebert led the CCIW in digs this past fall with 125 in 21 league matches for a 5.95 average. She was also named to the all-tournament team at the Viking Classic.
A year ago, as a freshman, she was named “Freshman of the Year” for the Vikings when she played in 107 games and had a team-high 475 digs (4.44 average) with 39 service aces and 79 setting assists. So far in her career, she has played in 214 games with 1,042 digs, which is 11th on the Augustana all-time list. She has 188 setting assists and 67 service aces.
Kylie, a business and accounting major, is the daughter of Dawn and Trent Siebert of Sugar Grove.
Joliet Memorial Stadium • Saturday, Nov. 9, 7 p.m.
It’s a battle of two 9-1 teams as the Knights head to ATI Field at Joliet Memorial Stadium to battle perennial playoff contender Joliet Catholic Academy (JCA).
JCA is no stranger to the IHSA playoffs, having made it the previous 16 years, and 37 years overall. JCA has won 13 state titles, with their most recent in the 2006 season while playing in the 6A division. They have been in the title game 17 times.
JCA’s road to the 2013 playoffs had them winning the stout East Suburban Catholic Conference with an 8-1 overall record (6-1 in conference). The ESCC boasted six playoff qualifiers this year. JCA’s only loss came to 7A St. Patrick by a score of 22-21. St. Patrick defeated Geneva 31-23 on the road in the first round last weekend.
JCA defeated Chicago Urban Prep-Englewood 69-12 in the First Round of the 5A playoffs last weekend.
Both teams come in with similar offensive point totals, with Kaneland averaging 39.2 points per game and JCA averaging 41.8 through 10 games. The defenses are both staunch, with Kaneland surrendering just 10.5 points per game, to JCA’s 15.1 through 10 games.
35 points by offense overshadowed by defensive gem in first round
KANELAND—Drew David and the Knights offense was clicking, but it was the other side of the ball that stole the show.
The Knights opened the 2013 playoffs in dominating fashion, picking apart the visiting Hampshire Whip-Purs 35-0.
Defensive coordinator Keith Snyder was very happy with how his unit played.
“I was really happy with how the kids responded,” Snyder said. “We’ve been trying to get back to being a little more simple and letting the kids play football after the Sycamore game, and the last two weeks they’ve done a heck of a job doing it.”
On Friday, the Knights’ defense was always in the right spots to make plays.
“We tried to dial it down to let the kids fly around and be aggressive, and they’ve really responded,” he said.
Senior Gary Koehring, who led the team with 8.5 tackles, led the defense, which has given up an average of only 10.5 points through last Friday’s game.
“Our defense played awesome; we all are buying into what coach Snyder has us doing,” Koehring said, “Everyone is doing their jobs, and we’re just playing as a whole unit.”
Koehring was impressed with his teammates’ contributions, too.
“Tyler Carlson played really well; he had two interceptions. He’s done a really nice job filling in for our two graduated guys last year in Korey Harner and Blake Bradford,” Koehring said. “Andy Kray steps up as a sophomore; he’s been doing really good this year.”
Carlson also had a tackle for a loss, and Kray had one of three sacks for the Knights.
“Everyone has just stepped up as a unit this year,” said Koehring.
The Knight’s offense was impressive, too. Junior Isaac Swithers got the Knights on the board on their third possession with a three-yard touchdown run with 2:56 left in the first quarter.
The Knights drove the ball well early in the second quarter, with key catches coming from senior John Pruett (five catches for 91 yards), and were rewarded with another Swithers TD run, this time from the goal line.
Later in the second, after a Brandon Bishop 51-yard touchdown pass was called back due to a penalty, David found junior Connor Fedderly for a seven-yard TD pass with 1:57 to go before the half.
Two third quarter touchdowns: a four-yard run by senior Nate Dyer after a nice drive, and a quick strike 14 yard pass from David to senior Tyler Slamans as time expired in the third quarter finished the scoring on the night.
However, a scary moment came with 7:51 left in the third quarter, when Bishop (seven catches, 91 yards) had to be taken to the hospital for precautionary reasons after taking a helmet to the back on a punt return. The senior did give his teammates and the Peterson Field crowd a thumbs up as he was loaded into the ambulance. Head coach Tom Fedderly said Bishop’s playing status wouldn’t be determined until late in the week.
Hampshire finished the night with only 84 yards of total offense, and had just four first downs.
“To do what we did tonight and with the turnovers, (to give up) only four first downs and to shut a team out in the playoffs—that’s a total team defensive effort right there,” Snyder said after the game.
Snyder credited his unit’s preparation for keeping the Whip-Purs offense in shambles.
“It starts in film study, and they’ve been phenomenal. They see things I haven’t even seen, and I pride myself in studying film,” Snyder said.
Snyder was quick to credit the rest of the defensive staff.
“Their position coaches do a tremendous job with them—Pat Ryan with the inside linebackers, Marcus Goedken with the defensive line and Ryan Gierke with the defensive backs—so when they get to me, I can just coach them on some smaller things, and then they just know what is going on out there,” Snyder said. “It makes my job much easier when you have smart football players that play like that.”
The Knights now travel to Joliet, Ill., to take on the Joliet Catholic Hilltoppers at Joliet Memorial Stadium on Saturday at 7 p.m. The winner of the second-round matchup will face the winner of the Montini Catholic/Marian Catholic matchup in the Quarterfinals.
Knight behemoths help Kaneland football in trenches
KANELAND—Throughout the 35-game regular season win streak and 47 wins in the last 52 overall games, Kaneland’s playmakers have made plenty of noise with their actions.
But it’s been said by coach Tom Fedderly in months past that the games are won on the offensive line.
Being charged with the task of protecting quarterbacks like Drew David and predecessor Joe Camaliere, while being asked to clear holes for Jesse Balluff, Isaac Swithers, Nate Dyer and Blake Serpa, is all in a productive night’s work for the Knight offensive line. It’s personnel like seniors Alex Snyder, Shane Jorgensen, Joe Komel, Justin Diddell and Sam Bower that win the offensive battles first, allowing for glory in the endzone later.
With Kaneland securing one playoff win in Class 5A action, the challenge of storied program Joliet Catholic looms, but personnel like Jorgensen (6-foot-2, 270 pounds) just wish to play within themselves, even as two-way players.
Jorgensen, whose older brother Troy was a valuable receiver on the 2006 Class 5A semifinalist team, has tried to keep it business as usual.
“We try to practice just as hard, no matter what jersey we have on,” Jorgensen said. “The Morris game was huge, we just knew we had to bounce back.”
Diddell (6-foot-3, 285 pounds) came into 2013 in a unique situation, having been mostly a defensive lineman, but still maintains the aggressive mentality.
“It’s still nice to hit people. But, the thing is, people took me under their wing and they helped me out throughout practice,” Diddell said. “Every time I’d make a mistake, they helped me out.”
That mode has made a big difference for the first-year O-line talent.
“They don’t just leave me there to die, and I’m just glad I have a group of linemen that know what they’re doing,” Diddell said. “We really get hyped up about our double teams. Then, when we start pancaking people and we start double-teaming them after that, that’s when we get really hyped up.”
Snyder (6-feet-0, 270 pounds) is the elder statesman of the line, and holds the school record for most wins in a four-year span as an individual player for the Kaneland football program.
How much of a change to Snyder’s game has there been?
“I think, physically, I’m more of the same player; mentally, just a lot different,” Snyder said. “I understand a lot more things. Obviously, with maturity and preparing more. But it’s just seeing what someone will do and seeing their tendencies from the first couple of plays.”
With injuries to threats like Balluff and Zach Thielk and a share of dings, bumps and bruises, Snyder and Co. have had to work and persevere through a slew of obstacles in 2013.
“I just think this year, seeing how people have responded kind of helps us through everything. With the Sycamore game, obviously we didn’t want to lose it, but the only thing we could do was bounce back,” Snyder said.
Komel (6-foot-4, 280 pounds), at right tackle, has a full plate of tough draws every game that differs slightly from his linemates.
“The right tackle is responsible for the pocket. Guards and centers are more responsible for the depth. Those defensive ends are coming hard at me and the quarterback, and you’ve got to keep them off,” Komel said. “You get a running start and you’re backpedaling almost, basically.”
With the 2013 postseason the last ride no matter what week it ends, the line responsible for so many breakaway plays breaks it down to its basest form.
“You’ve just got to protect the quarterback as best as possible,” Komel said.
Kaneland’s meeting with Joliet Catholic takes place on Saturday, Nov. 9, at 7 p.m., at Joliet Memorial Stadium.
Photo: Sophomore Sean Spaetzel cracked the varsity roster, running as Kaneland’s seventh runner at the Belvidere Sectional with a time of 16:51. File Photo
Boys’ fourth place yields State berth
KANELAND—In certain situations, a team’s fourth-place finish might be cause for kicking one’s self.
For the Kaneland boys cross country team, it’s a chance to keep striding toward bigger and better things at this coming weekend’s State contest at Detweiller Park in Peoria, Ill.
Kaneland boys cross country’s performance at the Class 2A Belvidere Sectional on Saturday morning yielded a total of 163 points, in the middle of the pack of State qualifiers. Vernon Hills took first with 45 points, followed by Northern Illinois Big XII entry Dixon with 99 points. Crystal Lake Central took third at the 102-point mark. After Kaneland’s comfortable fourth-place slot, Prairie Ridge and Grayslake Central earned qualifying nods with 181 points each.
Ryan Pitner, senior representative from Crystal Lake Central, finished the morning with a time of 15 minutes 9 seconds to nab individual champion honors.
Kyle Carter, a KHS senior, finished in 19th place at 15:56, finishing over Grayslake Central’s Jack Battaglia by .09 seconds, with senior classmate Nathaniel Kucera next up for KHS in 21st at 16:00. Additionally, junior Brandon Park took 37th at 16:21, followed by fellow junior Andrew Lesak in 41st at 16:23, while senior Ryan Bower finished in 45th at 16:30.
Kaneland’s average varsity time was 16:23 on the Belvidere school course.
“We knew it was a battle for the final two qualifying spots, and we knew a pack split under 40 seconds was necessary for this team to advance for a third year in a row,” KHS coach Chad Clarey said. “Led by an inspired effort from the seniors, the team advanced with a 34-second pack split.”
As the 17th boys team to advance to the big course, Clarey was glad to see the team effort work on the grass.
“We are very thankful for the opportunity to return to Peoria. We realize there are some very talented teams who will end their seasons today. When we needed it most, the team rallied around one another and got the job done,” Clarey said.
The highest finish for the Kaneland program in recent memory was second place 14 years ago. In 2012, Chicago’s Jones High School took the Class 2A crown with 85 points, followed by Belvidere North at 126 points. Local rival Yorkville took third with 129 points.
Photo: Senior Erika Carlson stepped up for the Lady Knights, running as their No. 3 with a time of 19:30. File Photo
KANELAND—Looks like the Lady Knights cross country squad had just enough on Saturday in Belvidere, Ill.
Due to their 176-point total, the Kaneland girls cross country lineup earned the last Class 2A State qualifying margin by 27 points over Woodstock at the Sectional meet at Belvidere High School.
The Lady Knights, who saw sophomore Victoria Clinton take the top prize in 2012, now set plans for the Class 2A finals on Saturday, Nov. 9, at Detweiller Park in Peoria, Ill.
Crystal Lake Central was crowned Sectional champs with a 103-point total, followed by Marengo at 121, Vernon Hills at 126 and Lake Forest at 141.
Senior Maura Beattie of Woodstock took the course with a stellar time of 17 minutes, 43 seconds. For Kaneland, the troop was led by junior Clinton, who finished 11th at 18:31. Sophomore Brianna Bower continued her steady trajectory with a 18:37 for 15th place. Third-best for KHS was senior Erika Carlson in 42nd at 19:30. Rounding out the top five for Kaneland: freshman Abby Shaw in 53rd at 19:46, and veteran junior Aislinn Lodwig at 55th in 19:49.
For the third year in a row, the Lady Knight girls saw hard work and a rise to the occasion pay off.
“Once again, Victoria Clinton and Brianna Bower led the way with strong races,” KHS coach Doug Ecker said. “In arguably the toughest sectional in the state with 8-9 teams running for five spots, I’m very proud of how the girls ran their best race on the day it mattered most. They definitely earned their trip to the State meet.”
In 2012, Clinton’s championship run helped KHS toward a sixth-place team finish, with rival Yorkville and Normal University taking the top two spots on the Peoria course.
Photo: Sophomore Anna Sinise had four digs and two kills in the Lady Knight’s Regional loss to Sycamore last Thursday. Photos by Patti Wilk
Lady Knights’ journey ends by third-seed Sycamore in regional final
SANDWICH, Ill.—There would be no standing tall, despite the valiant effort.
Kaneland, the No. 1 seed in the Class 3A Sandwich Regional, looked to knock off Sycamore, the No. 3 seed, last Thursday, in a repeat of the 2012 Hampshire Regional final.
What ended up happening after a nice first game was two drops in a row, allowing the Lady Spartans to hoist the Sandwich Regional plaque after a 17-25, 25-12, 25-18 tussle. Sycamore was set to hit the Princeton Sectional against Dunlap on Tuesday in a semifinal matchup.
Kaneland finished the 2013 campaign at 16-16, while Sycamore improved to 16-17 after the three-game tussle.
Lone senior Jenny Lubic had 25 assists in her swan song, while junior teammate Ellie Dunn had 13 kills and 14 digs. Sophomore Vanessa Gould had seven kills and eight digs.
Kaneland had earned a slot in the final by beating Plano on Oct. 29, while Sycamore had defeated Sandwich in the following game.
The Lady Knights got off to a nice start against their Northern Illinois Big XII conference rival with a 14-9 edge in the first game. Sycamore took advantage of some service errors to close within 17-16. Soon, Dunn took control with two kills, and coupled with a sideout, the Lady Knights led 23-16. After a Sycamore point, the Lady Knights got a Dunn kill followed by a Lubic set to Dunn for the match point and eight-point margin of victory.
Service mishaps, errors and an overall tightening of the Sycamore game had Kaneland fall to a 20-8 margin in the second game. Despite a key kill by Hannah Nauert to close it to 21-10, Sycamore went on a 4-2 run to even matters.
Back and forth action had Kaneland’s last lead of the 2013 season at 12-11 before strategic placement of the ball and key blocking made for third-game woes. Sycamore went on an 11-4 run to take a 22-16 lead. Dunn would come up with two late kills, to close within 24-18, but a side out ended the contest.
With the first year a season-long adjustment, the Lady Knights hoped to make it past the regional final. Strides were made, however.
“New coach, new systems, young team, individual player, the bond, trust and friendships that were made, we did a lot in roughly 70 days,” KHS coach Kerri McCastland said. “I’m just sorry we didn’t have more time to foster it. The future looks bright.”
With the loss, Lady Knights volleyball says goodbye to Lubic.
“Jenny was the unanimous chosen leader on our team by her peers,” McCastland said. “She was great under pressure and stayed poised as a player and person. She is selfless; playing injured and never giving less than 110 percent. She’s a dynamic player who loves to attack the game. I will miss that among so many other things about her.”
Friday night @ 7 p.m.
Peterson Field, Maple Park, IL
Kaneland’s Class 5A playoff journey begins with a home matchup as a No. 5 seed against the 6-3 Hampshire Whip-purs,
a No. 12 seed, on Friday at 7 p.m.
The winner faces either No. 4 Joliet Catholic or No. 13 Urban Prep Charter/Englewood of Chicago the following week.
While Kaneland outscored foes by an average of 40-12, Hampshire outscored its opponents by an average of 32-23. Hampshire, coached by Dan Cavanaugh in his 25th season, enters the playoff hunt after a 3-6 record in 2012.
The Whip-purs, of the Fox Valley Conference’s Fox Division, had its three losses come at the hands of Crystal Lake Central, Grayslake North and Cary-Grove. The Knights and Whip-purs had a common opponent in the form of DeKalb, which lost to Kaneland, 35-12, and Hampshire in a 35-34 slugfest.
Hampshire is in the postseason action for the first time since 2008 when it was a 4A school. Kaneland has Hampshire as a first round opponent after dealing with Belvidere in 2011 and 2012, with the Knights looking to remedy a second-round elimination at the hands of Lincoln-Way West a year ago.
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.
Late goal dooms Knight soccer against BC, semi sees rout of Spartans
SYCAMORE—Class 2A Regional soccer features squads that have to make the most of the 80 regulation minutes given.
In the case of the Oct. 23 Regional semifinal at Sycamore between the Knights and host Spartans, Kaneland could have played at a high level for more than the time allotted in a 4-0 win.
During Friday’s regional final against the local rival Rockets of Burlington Central, the Knights probably wished they had more time than given after a late goal led to a 1-0 defeat.
It marked the end of the season for a program that has seen four straight regional final appearances and two plaques. Kaneland advanced to the sectional finals last year.
Burlington Central, the top seed at the regional, advanced to its own sectional, where it was scheduled to battle Freeport on Tuesday.
Kaneland finished its 2013 season with a record of 10-6-4 through 20 matches.
Against the Rockets, it remained scoreless for nearly all of regulation before Alan Camarena scored off the Knights with just 55 seconds remaining. BC improved to 21-2 with the win.
Facing off against the No. 3 seed Spartans as the No. 2 unit, Kaneland started to take care of business fairly early thanks to a rocket from Anthony Parillo from 20 yards out 9:01 into the match for a 1-0 lead.
“I made a run to the box and took a one-touch hit,” Anthony Parillo said. “We’re playing really well, and we’re going to have to step it up on Friday.”
Knight Angel Escontrias struck with a shot from the left of the goalie box with 8:15 before halftime to go up 2-0.
“You always hope you can pop a couple of early ones in and make the other team really push,” KHS coach Scott Parillo said. “We did well, and Anthony’s shot was just unbelievable. That was a wicked shot.”
About six minutes into the second half, Sycamore committed an own goal off a deflection for a 3-0 edge for Kaneland. The scoring concluded when Escontrias put a shot in thanks to a feed from Adhurim Azemi with 19:40 to play for a 4-0 lead.
BURLINGTON, ILL—In the race for state, the Kaneland boys cross country team is heading in the right direction.
With a trio of seniors leading the way, a return trip to the state meet might be in the cards at Saturday’s Belvidere sectional.
Led by senior Kyle Carter’s 10th place in 16 minutes, 9.9 seconds, and a 14th place by senior Nathaniel Kucera (16:19), the Knights placed third in the Burlington Central Regional last Saturday. Vernon Hills was crowned team champion, while Crystal Lake Central placed second. CLC’s Ryan Pitner’s 15:26 was the best time of the day individually.
Behind his fellow seniors Carter and Kucera, Ryan Bower was the Knights third runner, placing 26th with a time of 16:47. Junior Andrew Lesak (28th, 16:47), sophomore Sean Spaetzel (31st, 17:00), and seniors Luis Acosta (34th, 17:04) and Phil Cutsinger (42nd, 17:25) rounded out the Knights.
Although the Knights advanced to the sectional, veteran coach Chad Clarey knows adjustments still need to be made for the Knights to advance.
“The split between our two and three (runners) will need to get tightened up,” Clarey said. “28 seconds is too much.”
However, it’s not the first time the battle-tested seniors have been entered in the historically tough sectional.
“Given the course we’re heading to, we’re confident that the seniors of this team will use their experiences to help tighten things up even more,” Clarey said.
The sectional is just as tough in 2013, with six of the top 25 teams in Class 2A represented in the field. No. 3 Vernon Hills is the favorite, but might be challenged by No. 6 Crystal Lake Central and No. 7 Dixon. No. 12 Sterling, No. 19 Belvidere North and No. 25 Kaneland will battle for the final two spots. The Knights defeated Sterling as recently as two weeks ago at the NIB-12 conference meet.
BURLINGTON, ILL.—One down, one to go in the Kaneland quest for the state meet.
Coach Doug Ecker’s crew, led by a sixth-place finish by sophomore Brianna Bower, secured fourth place at the competitive Burlington Central Regional last Saturday, and more importantly a spot at this Saturday’s Belvidere Sectional.
“The girls finished a respectable fourth at the very competitive 2A Regional,” Ecker said. “Brianna Bower ran her usual strong race to lead the team.”
Bower, running an 18 minute, 42.8 second time over the 3-mile course, was 24 seconds behind individual champion Vivian Overbeck of Vernon Hills.
Junior Victoria Clinton secured an 11th place finish with a time of 19:01 as the second KHS runner to finish. She was followed by three Lady Knights that were within seconds of each other: seniors Sydney Strang (19th, 19:56), Erika Carlson (20th, 19:58) and junior Aislinn Lodwig (22nd, 19:58) packed it up to finish the team’s scoring. Anna Piazza (33rd, 20:30) and Jessica Kucera (46th, 21:09) rounded out the top seven.
The Lady Knights, now ranked eighth in the latest DyestatIL poll released Tuesday, have their work cut out for them at the Belvidere Sectional.
Including the No. 8 Lady Knights, the sectional features No. 3 Crystal Lake Central, No. 5 Vernon Hills, No. 9 Lake Forest, No. 11 Marengo, No. 19 Belvidere North, No. 22 Woodstock and No. 23 Lakes. Only five teams qualify from the sectional to the state meet.
The sectional takes place on the grounds of Belvidere High School, with the girls racing for their chance at the state meet at 10 a.m.
Photo: Riley Hannula (left) and Vanessa Gould prepare to battle Riverside Brookefield during Saturday’s Spikefest at KHS. Photo by Lynn Logan
Sweep against Plano means Halloween contest against Sycamore
SANDWICH, ILL—Tough challenges can come your way as the No. 1 seed in any type of regional.
It’s just a matter of what to do with those challenges.
Kaneland volleyball dealt with a competitive No. 4 seed Plano lineup off a win against Rochelle the previous day, and took care of the Lady Reapers on Tuesday evening by a final of 25-19, 25-23.
Sycamore lines up to be the Kaneland opponent in the Halloween night regional final in Sandwich, Ill. The Lady Spartans, who were shelved by Kaneland in the Hampshire Regional final in 2012, beat Rock Falls and improved to 15-17 after a 30-28, 25-21 match.
Kaneland, after a week that included a Senior Night win over Yorkville, improved to 14-15.
Kaneland also hosted their annual Spikefest Saturday, but complete results were not provided by press time.
Against Plano, a tight first game still had Kaneland lead for most of the duration, and an Ellie Dunn tip over the net made it 15-13. Later, a Riley Hannula kill made it 17-14. A kill by Dunn, followed by a couple of sideouts and a spike by lone senior Jenny Lubic completed a 7-2 run to make it 24-16.
Plano would have a mini-rally after a couple of blocks and a kill, but a too-strong serve ended the game with the six-point margin.
The Lady Reapers relied on more capable front-line play to take a 17-9 advantage in game two, with things looking like they were headed to a third and deciding game.
Kaneland hurried back with two kills by Dunn. After Plano increased the lead back to 19-12. A couple of errors and another Dunn kill, coupled with a Plano sideout brought Kaneland to within 20-16. With time getting tight, A block by the combination of Hannula and Anna Senese and a tap by Vanessa Gould tied the score at 22. After a sideout made it 23-22 for Plano, Kaneland rallied with a side out, and a tap and kill by Gould on successive instances to win the match.
“I think we were just really pumped up and motivated,” Lubic said. “We wanted to win in two, and we were just focused on our goal and what we wanted to get to in the future.”
KHS coach Kerri McCastland realized a challenge was overcome, with more on the horizon, with the help of the established crew.
“Ellie and Jenny are the only ones who have ever been to this dance, I’m full of kids who have never seen the likes of what this is,” McCastland said. “I think that played into it tonight. Hat’s off to Plano, I think they played to win.”
On Thursday, Kaneland closed out conference play with a three-game win over Yorkville in Maple Park by a final of 25-22, 18-25, 25-21. Noteworthy nights were had by Lubic with 29 assists, Dunn with 14 kills and Gould with six kills and eight digs.
Scores at the Saturday Spikefest at Kaneland included KHS beating Riverside-Brookfield 23-25, 27-25, 16-14 and losing to Geneva 17-25, 25-14, 15-5, among the happenings.
Thursday’s Sandwich Regional final will send the winner to the Class 3A Princeton Sectional beginning on Tuesday, Nov. 5, with either Kaneland or Sycamore facing the winner of Illinois Valley Central-Dunlap in the Monmouth-Roseville Regional in the semifinal.