by Mike Slodki
ROCHELLEâ€”On Friday in Rochelle, it wasn’t the Knights who were left in a purple haze.
Despite spotting the host Hubs the first touchdown, Kaneland High School football kept its composure in a 33-12 victory to improve to 2-1 (1-0 Western Sun Conference).
The Knights slipped past the Hubs in Maple Park a year ago, 16-12, and have now split the last six meetings with the school.
â€œOur kids were real mature over the week,â€ KHS coach Tom Fedderly said. â€œThey worked hard. If you play steady, good things can happen.â€
On Friday, Kaneland won the first down battle 21-16.
Despite losing the rushing battle by a 169-127 count, the Knights outgained the Hubs throughout the night, 389-210.
The offensive road to success went through quarterback Joe Camaliere. No. 12 went 21-for-31 for 262 yards with three touchdown throws and no interceptions. The signal-caller also carried the ball 11 times for 87 yards. Rochelle’s Josh Bernardin ran for 101 yards on 25 carries.
Knight Ryley Bailey caught nine passes for 89 yards, while Blake Serpa caught five balls for 95 yards.
Rochelle began the contest with its run-based offense working like clockwork. An 11-play, 71-yard drive ended with an eight-yard touchdown run off tackle by Evan Tracy. The score with 5:57 remaining in the first made it 6-0.
Kaneland stormed back with some key runs by Camaliere and a pass to Serpa. The Knights made Rochelle jump offsides on two consecutive plays before Camaliere evaded Hubs defenders on the way to a 12-yard scoring run. The extra point by Kevin Szatkowski made it 7-6 for the Knights with 3:41 left.
The Knights defense stifled Rochelle in the second quarter and even got sacks from Alex Barron and Tyler Callaghan on consecutive plays.
With the first half about to close, Kaneland got to work at the Rochelle 39. Passes to Quinn Buschbacher and Taylor Andrews set up shop at the 27, where a Camaliere pass to Bailey resulted in Bailey lateralling the ball to running back Eric Tattoni for a 27-yard touchdown. The “hook-and-ladder” play came on a pivotal third-and-15 and gave the Knights a 14-6 lead with 12 seconds left in the half.
â€œThat was a big momentum shifter,â€ Fedderly said. â€œWeâ€™d tried it last week and it got batted down, but Ryley made an unbelievable toss.â€
â€œWe just wanted to see if something would work,â€ Camaliere said. â€œRyley just executed it great.â€
In the third, Rochelle fumbled the ball and it was recovered by Bailey. Thus began a nine-play, 99-yard drive that ended with a 39-yard scamper by Camaliere for a 20-6 lead with :40 left in the third quarter.
Rochelle scored on a Gabe Montes five-yard touchdown run with five seconds left in the game, but not before Kaneland got a 15-yard scoring pass to Bailey with 8:00 left to go up 27-6, and a 42-yard touchdown pass to Serpa with 4:49 to go made it 33-6.
In sophomore action, Rochelle handled Kaneland 28-13. The freshmen won over the Hubs 44-6 on Monday.
Kaneland travels to Sycamore on Friday, Sept. 18. The Spartans are coming off a win vs. DeKalb at Huskie Stadium.
Play of the Knight
While it was the offense that gave Rochelle headaches for most of Friday night, it was the defense that might make Hubs QB Brett Metzger feel after-effects.
Two consecutive sacks by the Knights in the second quarter had the Hubsâ€™ struggling offense come up empty once again. The first one by Alex Barron (93) resulted in a six-yard loss.