Tag Archives: Blake Bradford

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Cohesive to their core

Key Kaneland players continue as teammates on college gridiron
ELBURN—Kaneland High School football players swapping their black-and-white jerseys after graduation for the blue and orange of the University of Wisconsin-Platteville has become a common occurrence over the past few years.

Two prominent members of last season’s Knights’ squad that mowed through the schedule undefeated before bowing to Lincoln-Way West in the second round of the Class 5A playoffs last fall are the latest Kaneland products to join head coach Mike Emendorfer’s club.

Zach Theis, a two-year starting left tackle who was named to the Illinois Football Coaches Association’s Class 5A all-state football team as a senior, and linebacker/safety Blake Bradford, are preparing to take their grid careers to the next level at the NCAA Division III school this fall.
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“I’m very excited,” Bradford said. “Football is something I enjoy greatly, and to be able to keep on playing after high school is something that I thought I’d never accomplish.”

“He’s a hard-nosed, tough young man,” Emendorfer said. “I’m looking forward to him coming into the program. Blake’s goal is to play a role on special teams and learn the system as quickly as possible his freshman year. Blake is going to be a safety or outside linebacker; he’s one of those ‘tweeners. When we get him into camp we’re going to figure that out.”

Emendorfer also is looking forward to adding Theis, the Northern Illinois Big 12 Conference East Offensive Player of the Year, to the mix on the O-line.

Zach Theis (No. 57). File photo
Zach Theis (No. 57). File photo

“You don’t find too many players in high school being recognized as Player of the Year as an offensive lineman,” Emendorfer said. “We think he has a chance to compete for playing time, but we’re very careful about making any promises. He has talent; it’s just a matter of making that transition to college.”

Theis’ mindset going into the season is to contribute in any way possible.

“I’m going to go in and try my hardest and do everything they want me to do,” Theis said. “If it ends up being a starting spot, that’s the way it’s going to be, but if it’s not that, I’ll fill my role on the team and be a team player.”

The former Kaneland stars also will be roommates at their new school. They’ll be living in a dorm on campus.
“We’ve got everything,” Theis said. “We’re just trying to find a couch.”

No doubt, Kaneland products Quinn Buschbacher and Ryley Bailey, both wideouts on the squad, will help Theis and Bradford adjust to life at UW-Platteville both on and off the field. Bradford and Theis played alongside Buschbacher in 2011, while Bradford and Bailey have known each other since they were kids.

“It’s definitely nice to go in there and play with someone you’ve already played with before,” Bradford said. “Not a lot of people get to do that, and I think it’s going to be fun.”

Buschbacher, a sophomore for the Pioneers, recalls how Bailey, now a senior, took him under his wing when he became part of the team last year. He plans on mentoring Theis and Bradford once they arrive in Platteville.

Former KHS standout Quinn Buschbacher. Courtesy Photo
Former KHS standout Quinn Buschbacher. Courtesy Photo

Former KHS standout Ryley Bailey. Courtesy Photo
Former KHS standout Ryley Bailey. Courtesy Photo

“With Ryley, it was super nice coming into college,” Buschbacher said. “He acted like my older brother. I’ll be like Blake and Zach’s brother like Ryley did with me.”

There will be plenty for the new freshmen to adapt to, Buschbacher noted, such as a noticeable uptick in the speed of the game, managing their classes and their schedules.

“They’ve still got to learn the playbook, and the coaches have to get a feel for how they adapt to the level of speed, playing at a high level and being consistent,” Buschbacher said.

But Buschbacher believes Theis and Bradford will make a smooth transition to college ball. Coaches at UW-Platteville and Kaneland have developed a strong relationship over the years, and the two schools run the same type of offense and utilize similar terminology.

“They’re Kaneland boys,” Buschbacher said. “Ryley and I were able to adapt very well. Kaneland has a very good tradition and consistently plays at a very high level. It allows us to come in, work hard and have that determination to push through and reach whatever level we want to.”

They’ve adapted well, indeed. Bailey led the Pioneers in receptions (70), receiving yards (849) and touchdowns (10) last season. He was named a first-team all-Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC) player and also was selected national Division III Receiver of the Week after catching 11 passes for 191 yards and two scores during a 49-19 win over UW-Eau Claire.

Emendorfer said Bailey has the potential to be an all-American candidate this season.

“I’ve been in college coaching at Platteville 15 years, and Ryley is one of most intelligent football players I’ve ever coached,” he said. “What Ryley brings to the table is football savvy. He’s our Swiss knife. He can do everything; he can block, catch the vertical game, catch the short game and is a very versatile athlete. He’s one of our best blocking receivers. When we need a big play, Ryley’s the guy we go to.”

Buschbacher, meanwhile, caught 26 passes for 216 yards and two TDs last year. Emendorfer indicated he has big plans for the team’s 2012 freshman Player of the Year this season.

“Quinn is very explosive,” Emendorfer said. “He can take a 5-yard pass and turn it into a 50-yard touchdown easily. As the year went on, he got more and more playing time. Offensively, we averaged over 40 points per game (last year). The reason is because of people like Quinn and Ryley. We’re hoping for big things next year.”

The Pioneers, coming off an 8-2 record—their first 8-2 season since 1976—are garnering national attention. They’re ranked 14th in Lindy’s Sports Magazine’s Division III pre-season top 25.

Buschbacher said he feels confident the Pioneers can live up to their preseason billing, if not exceed expectations. Making the Division III playoffs, and advancing in the postseason, are among the Pioneers’ goals for 2013.

“I’m really excited,” Buschbacher said. “We have a good group of guys that are motivated to be successful. The Stagg Bowl (the Division III national championship game) is out there for us to take, but it’s up to us to reach that goal. We know it’s out there. We have to do whatever we can to capture it.”

KHS’ Bradford wins scholarship

KANELAND—Kaneland High School senior Blake Bradford was recently named the winner of the 2013 Kane County Pheasants Forever Scholarship Award.

Bradford, a Maple Park resident, earned the $1,000 scholarship because of his commitment and passion for the outdoors and conservation. He will attend college with an interest in environmental science.

KHS fall sports announce awards

Kaneland—The Kaneland High School fall sports programs recently concluded their respective awards nights.

Cross Country—Boys
• Most Valuable Runner: Kyle Carter, Conor Johnson
• Most Improved Runner: Nathaniel Kucera
• Larry Eddington Award for Courage, Leadership and Strength—Nick Messina
• Captains—Kyle Carter, Conor Johnson, Brad Kigyos
• Golden Knight Award—Freshman: Kyle Osborne; Sophomore: Andrew Lesak; Junior: Ryan Bower; Senior: Gus Stott
• State Qualifiers—Kyle Carter, Conor Johnson, Nathaniel Kucera, John Meisinger, Ryan Bower, Brandon Huber, Ryan Paulson, Luis Acosta
• All Conference—Kyle Carter

Cross Country—Girls
• Captains—Abby Dodis, Maggie Brundige, Ashley Castellanos
• Most Improved Runner—Jessica Kucera, Sydney Strang
• Most Valuable Runner—Victoria Clinton
• All Conference—Victoria Clinton, Brianna Bower, Abby Dodis, Sydney Strang, Amanda Lesak
• State Qualifiers—Victoria Clinton, Aislinn Lodwig, Sydney Strang, Abby Dodis, Ashley Castellanos, Maggie Brundige, Amanda Lesak, Brianna Bower
• All State, State Champion—Victoria Clinton

Football
• Captains—Blake Bradford, Ryan Lawrence, Dan Goress, Kory Harner, Nick Sharp
• Most Improved Player—Bradley Johnson
• Most Valuable Player—Blake Bradford
• Offensive MVP—Zach Martinelli
• Defensive MVP—Gary Koehring
• Special Teams MVP—Matt Rodriguez
• NIB XII All Conference—Zach Theis, Nick Sharpe, Alex Snyder, Zach Martinelli, Jesse Balluff, Drew David, Justin Diddell, Jaumaureo Phillips, Blake Bradford, Kory Harner, Gary Koehring, Ryan Lawrence, Matt Rodriguez

Golf
• Varsity Most Improved Player—Jessy Denton
• Varsity MVP—Matt Yonkovich
• Fresh/Soph MVP—Jeremy Faletto
• Fresh/Soph Most Improved Player—Tori Guyton, C.J. Wehrmann
• All Conference—Matt Yonkovich, Connor Williams, Brody Kuhar, Luke Kreiter
• State Qualifiers—Connor Williams, Luke Kreiter, Matt Yonkovick, Brody Kuhar, Dan Miller, Sean Glennon

Soccer
• Captains—Alex Gil, Anthony Parillo, Marshall Farthing, Sam Rymarz, Alec Koczka, Ivan Bohorquez
• Most Improved Player—Jason Biddle, Marshall Farthing
• Most Valuable Player—Alex Gil, Anthony Parillo
• Rookie of the Year—Ivan Bohorquez
• Coach’s Award—Tyler Siebert, Alec Koczka, Chris Van Dinther, J.T. Karr
• Offensive Player of the Year—Anthony Parillo
• Defensive Player of the Year—Sam Rymarz
• Player of the Year—Anthony Parillo
• All Conference—Marshall Farthing, Alex Gil, Anthony Parillo, Alec Koczka, Sam Rymarz
• All Conference-Honorable Mention—Arsim Azemi
• All Sectional-Honorable Mention—Arsim Azemi
• All Sectional—Alex Gil, Marshall Farthing
• All State—Anthony Parillo

Tennis
• Team Spirit Awards—Varsity: Jess Woodward; JV: Katelyn Blaszynski
• Most Improved Awards—Varsity: Colleen Landers; JV: Mallory Dugan
• MVP—Sarah Grams, Stephanie Zwick
• Outstanding Achievement Awards—School Record: 38 wins—Madison Jurcenko, Angelica Emmanouil; 1st Singles player to qualify for the State Tournament—Samantha Schrepferman
• State Qualifiers—Madison Jurcenko, Angelica Emmanouil, Samantha Schrepferman
• All Conference—Madison Jurcenko, Angelica Emmanouil, Samantha Schrepferman, Sarah Grams

Volleyball
• Most Improved Player—Emily Laudont, Keri Groen
• Spirit Award—Rachael Clinton
• MVP—Jenny Lubic
• Top Offensive Player—Ellie Dunn
• Top Defensive Player—Shayna Tucek
• All Conference—Ellie Dunn, Lauren Banbury

KHS fall athletes earn accolades

Kaneland—A number of Kaneland High School fall athletes were recognized for their performance from throughout the 2012 season.

Leading the way for Kaneland’s post-season honors was senior offensive lineman Zach Theis. He was named to the Illinois High School Football Coaches Association All-State Team, was the NIB-12 East Division Offensive MVP and All-Conference.

Joining Theis as Kaneland football All-Conference Team members were senior offensive lineman Nick Sharp, junior offensive lineman Alex Snyder, senior wide receiver Zack Martinelli, junior running back Jesse Balluff, junior quarterback Drew David, junior defensive lineman Justin Diddell, junior defensive lineman Jaumaureo Phillips, senior defensive back Blake Bradford, senior defensive back Kory Harner, junior linebacker Gary Koehring, senior linebacker Ryan Lawrence, and junior kicker Matt Rodriguez. Balluff was also an All-State Honorable Mention. Balluff, David, Snyder and Koehring were each named to the All State Academic Team.

Earning All-Conference honors from the Kaneland High School volleyball team were sophomore Ellie Dunn, senior Lauren Banbury and senior Ashley Prost.

Girls cross country All-Conference honors went to sophomore Victoria Clinton, freshman Brianna Bower, senior Abby Dodis, junior Sydney Strang, and senior Amanda Lesak.

Junior Kyle Carter earned All-Conference distinction for boys cross country.

All-Conference golf team members were juniors Matt Yonkovick and Brody Kuhar, and seniors Luke Kreiter and Connor Williams.

Football Preview: Kaneland’s Got Talent

Photos: The Kaneland Knights varsity football team (right) hopes to keep its strong defense and improve over last year’s overall record of 21-1. The Knights lost a heartbreaker in last year’s IHSA semifinal 35-31 against Montini. Quarterback Drew David (below) will return to lead the team’s offense. File Photos

Knights’ football feels good about what 2012 holds
by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—For the second straight season, Kaneland football endured a heart-pounding postseason journey.

For the second straight season, Kaneland had its heart broken against visiting Montini Catholic in the Class 5A State semifinals.

But this Knights crew, behind sixth-year coach Tom Fedderly, looks to start a new journey, and have it go just a bit further.

In the early days of practice, Fedderly is feeling good about his crew that has gone undefeated in regular season play since an Oct. 16, 2009, overtime loss to Geneva, and has won 27 of its last 29 contests.

The Knights can take solace in the fact of having five all-Northern Illinois Big XII players coming back.

“A lot of guys are returning, including four offensive linemen, and that means we can spend more time on the little things,” Fedderly said.

“Obviously, when you look at our team coming back, we have a lot of people back but we have to replace Sean (Carter) and Quinn (Buschbacher), and I think we’ll have some kids that’ll do that,” Fedderly said. “We have our quarterback coming back, and he’s a smart kid.”

That smart kid, Drew David, went undefeated, commanding the vaunted spread offense as a sophomore, and continues in the steps of his three-year starting predecessor, Joe Camiliere.

David passed for 39 touchdowns in 2011 and spurred comebacks against teams like DeKalb and Belvidere.

“When you look at Joe’s sophomore year and Drew’s, it’s about the same. I think they had 10 picks each. This year, we hope to not have as many turnovers. We talk about that a lot. Drew’s a smart kid, and he’s not going to make the same mistake twice,” Fedderly said. “He’s a real competitor, and we’re looking forward to seeing what he can do.”

Jesse Balluff returns to bear the load of the ball-carrying in his junior season.

“Last year, we didn’t know what we had coming off the ACL,” Fedderly said of the running back who battled an injury prior to the start of last season. “As the year went on, he got stronger. We just want to continue the progress with him.”

Carter and Buschbacher leave for collegiate ball in Wisconsin, meaning it’s time for new blood.

“We’ve got Zack Martinelli back and Kyle Pollastrini back; both started last year. Tyler Slamans will be out at tight end. Dylan Nauert primarily played defense last year, but he’ll take Carter’s spot and Brandon Bishop comes up, too,” Fedderly said.

On the line, Alex Snyder returns from an exceptional freshman season, and Joe Komel joins the three other returnees—Shane Jorgensen, Drew Sharp and Zach Theis.

Linebacking crew members Ryan Lawrence, Kory Harner and Gary Koehring are expected to bring more all-conference honors and big hits in 2012.

The secondary needs to replace the opportunistic ball-hawking play of Jacob Razo.

Nauert, Harner, John Pruett and Tanner Andrews are looking for picks and hits in the defensive backfield, with Dan Goress and JR Vest fighting for a spot, as well.

Buschbacher’s exit leaves a return hole, but Martinelli and Bishop are projected to offset that need.

Matt Rodriguez will contribute his kicking and punting skills in 2012.

Kaneland looks to take care of tasks and will rely on not only its coaching staff on the sidelines, but on the field.

“We have experience and really smart kids. Getting to the semis last year, they got big-time experience in big games and I think these kids have their heads on straight,” Fedderly said.

The Knights’ quest begins on Saturday, Aug. 25, against host Brooks Prep at Gately Stadium in Chicago, while the first home game is Friday, Sept. 7, against Sterling.

Varsity Football Schedule
• Saturday, Aug. 25; 4 p.m.
At Gwendolyn Brooks
College Prep HS
• Friday, Aug. 31; 7:15 p.m.
At Huntley HS
• Friday, Sept. 7; 7:30 p.m.
Home vs. Sterling HS
• Friday, Sept. 14; 7:30 p.m.
At Streator High School
• Friday, Sept. 21; 7:30 p.m.
At Rochelle Township HS
• Friday, Sept. 28; 7:30 p.m.
Home vs. DeKalb HS
• Friday, Oct. 5; 7:30 p.m.
At Yorkville HS
• Friday, Oct. 12; 7:30 p.m.
Home vs. Sycamore HS
• Friday, Oct. 19; 7:30 p.m.
Home vs. Morris HS

Varsity roster Seniors
Kyle Pollastrini, WR/LB;
Zack Martinelli, WR/DB;
Blake Bradford, LB;
Ryan Lawrence, RB/LB;
Tanner Andrews, WR/DB;
Dan Goress, RB/LB;
Kory Harner, WR/DB;
Michael Kinder, TE/DE;
Zach Theis, OL/DL;
Caesar Estrada, OL/DL;
Nick Sharp, OL/DL;
Bradley Johnson, OL/DL
Juniors
Dan Evers, WR/DB;
JR Vest, DB;
Drew David, QB;
Gary Koehring, RB/LB;
Matt Rodriguez, K;
Brandon Bishop, WR/DB;
Tyler Slamans, TE/LB;
Tyler Carlson, QB/WR;
John Pruett, WR/DB;
Dylan Nauert, WR/LB;
Grant Wooten, WR/DB;
Jesse Balluff, RB/LB;
Nate Dyer, RB/LB;
Cole Carlson, LB;
Bryan Endrenal, OL/DL;
Justin Diddell, OL/DL;
Tom VanBogaert, TE/LB;
Sam Bower, OL/DL;
Joe Komel, OL/DL;
Shane Jorgensen, OL/DL;
Jaumaureo Phillips, OL/DL;
Evan Ortiz, OL/DL;
Alex Snyder, OL/DL
Sophomores
Connor Fedderly, WR/LB
Head coach
Tom Fedderly

KHS fall athletes recognized with awards

KANELAND—Kaneland High School athletics released their slate of Fall Sports Awards, with each sport trumpeting the best it had to offer, with some All-Northern Illinois Big XII honors thrown in for good measure.

In golf, All-NIB-12 went to Troy Krueger and Matt Yonkovich. Co-Varsity MVP’s were Brody Kuhar and Yonkovich. Connor Williams won the varsity most improved player award. On the frosh/soph roster, Stephen Cannell took the MVP, and Jacob Sheehan won the most improved player award.

For volleyball, All-NIB-12 nods went to Katy Dudzinski and conference MVP Kylie Siebert.

Dudzinski was named top offensive player while Siebert was named top defensive player.

Most improved player went to Rachael Clinton, and the Spirit award went to Lauren Banbury. Dudzinski and Siebert took home the team MVP awards.

In Kaneland tennis, Stephanie Rosenwinkel, Amelia Napiorkowski and Kelly Kovacic were recognized as captains. Mallory Dugan and Stephanie Karolewicz were named most improved. Kovacic and Colleen Landers took the team spirit awards. Outstanding achievement awards went to Jelly Emmnouil for a perfect regular season, Madi Jurcenko for a school record 33 wins, and the doubles tandem of Jurcenko and Napiorkowski for a record of 32-3. All-NIB-12 members were Napiorkowski, Jurcenko, Emmanouil and Sammie Schrepferman, and those four were also named team MVP’s.

For girls cross country, Victoria Clinton was honored for All-State totals, as well as being a State qualifier with teammates Maggie Brundige, Abby Dodis, Aislinn Lodwig, Amanda Lesak, Sydney Strang and Ashley Castellanos.

Lesak, Dodis, Lodwig, Brundige and Clinton were named to the All-NIB-12 team. Dodis, Brundige and Carolina Tovar were recognized as captains. Most improved runners were Dodis and Brundige, while Clinton was named as Most Valuable Runner, capping an exceptional freshman campaign.

For boys cross country, Kyle Carter, John Meisinger, Brandon Huber, Miki Marin, Conor Johnson, Luis Acosta, Clayton Brundige and Nate Rehkopf were recognized as State qualifiers, while Huber, Carter and Meisinger made the All-NIB-12 team.

The Golden Knight Awards went to freshman Andrew Lesak, sophomore Nathanie Kucera, junior Meisinger and senior Rehkopf. Rehkopf, Brundige and Marin were recognized as captains. Huber took the most improved runner nod. Brundige won the Larry Eddington Award for Courage, Leadership and Strength. Carter was named most valuable runner.

For the State semifinalist football squad, Quinn Buschbacher was recognized for his IHSCA All-State accomplishment, and Jacob Razo was credited with an IHSCA Honorable Mention. Alex Snyder, Drew David, Blake Bradford and Ben Kovalick were named to the IHSCA Academic All-State team.

Snyder, Nick Sharp, Buschbacher, Sean Carter, David, Ryan Noel, Kovalick, Razo, Kory Harner, Ryan Lawrence and Bradford were named to the All-NIB-12 team.

Special teams MVP was Matt Roriguez, while Buschbacher was offensive MVP and Razo was named defensive MVP.

Most improved player was Brandon Stahl, captains were Kovalick, Noel, Buschbacher, Razo and Carter, while Sean Carter walked away with the MVP award.

For the regional finalist soccer team, Alex Gil and Anthony Parillo were named to the All-Sectional team, while Jordan Escobedo, Gil, Parillo and Alec Koczka made the All-NIB-12 team. Pedro Perez and Tyler Siebert were honorable mention candidates.

Gil was named player of the year, with Escobedo taking the offensive player of the year and Sam Rymarz named the defensive player of the year.

The Coach’s Award went to Siebert, Koczka, Jason Biddle and Chris Van Dinther. Gil, Escobedo and Parillo were recognized as captains.

Rookie of the year went to Arsim Azemi. Thansi Pesmajoglou was named most improved player and Gil and Parillo took the team MVP.

Buschbacher tops in NIB-12 with offensive MVP honors

KANELAND—Honors for Kaneland Knights football are now coming as frequently as a monster gain on a Friday night in Maple Park.

Senior wideout Quinn Buschbacher was one of an NIB-12 -best 11 Knights to earn all-conference honors in the East division, with the senior captain earning offensive MVP honors, as well.

Morris’ Hunter Barry took defensive MVP honors.

The Knights’ 11-deep all-conference roster will see the return of six for the 2012 season. Coach Tom Fedderly mentioned in August that a big key to projected success was the return of a handful of all-NIB-12 personnel.

KHS can now boast senior Buschbacher, along with seniors Sean Carter (WR), Ryan Noel (DL), Ben Kovalick (DL) and Jacob Razo (DB). Juniors are OL Nick Sharp, DB Kory Harner, LB Ryan Lawrence and LB Blake Bradford. QB Drew David was one of only three sophomores in the conference to earn top honors, along with OL teammate Alex Snyder.

Morris added 10 members to the list, followed by Sycamore with eight.

Conference chase complete

Photo: Dylan Nauert chases Morris QB Austin Feeney during Kaneland’s 31-28 victory. Kaneland’s 9-0 mark brings forth a conference title and a date with visiting Belvidere on Friday, Oct. 28. Photo by John DiDonna

Early lead holds up for NIB-12 East champs in 31-28 win in Morris
by Mike Slodki
MORRIS—All that stood between a second consecutive Northern Illinois Big XII East division championship for undefeated Kaneland was fellow undefeated juggernaut Morris.

On Friday in Grundy County, only one undefeated football outfit stood tall: the Knights.

Storming out to a 24-0 halftime lead in a first half that saw the Redskins gather just 30 yards, the Knights clung to the lead after Morris scored three touchdowns in the fourth quarter.

But an emphasis on the run and two key interceptions had the Knights emerge the 31-28 victor.

The Knights finished the 2011 regular season campaign with a 9-0 mark and a 5-0 NIB-12 slate, cinching their second straight conference crown and the No. 1 overall team on the IHSA Playoff Points scale in Class 5A.

“It’s huge, and I’m so proud of our kids,” KHS coach Tom Fedderly said. “Coming into the season and losing all the kids that we had, we didn’t know what we had, but we knew we had a lot of talent.”

Morris finished 8-1 with a 4-1 mark in NIB-12 play.

Kaneland continues to roll on the Maple Park grass, finshing their second straight undefeated season.

The Knights have now won 19 regular season games in a row, and 22 of their last 25 contests in regular and post season.

Kaneland found out Saturday that with the No. 1 seed, it’ll host 16th-seeded Belvidere High School on Friday, Oct. 28, at 7 p.m. at Peterson Field.

Morris, meanwhile, hosts Morton High School on the same night in the upper half of the 5A bracket.

In sophomore action, Morris defeated Kaneland by a 12-6 final.

The varsity Knights outgained the host Redkins by a 328-288 margin, while being almost even in passing yardage, 232-219.

KHS quarterback Drew David was 16-for-32 on the day, with four TD throws, while counterpart Austin Feeney was 20-for-30 for 219 yards and three touchdowns, but had four picks.

David also rushed for a game-high 54 yards.

Sean Carter had 161 yards on five catches, and three touchdowns to go along with an interception.

“We knew Morris was a good team,” Carter said. “They are a hard-hitting team, but once we had that first quarter, we just got on a roll.”

Any second-half score against the Redskins would have been nice, but in Sean Carter’s case, it was the difference. His sideline catch-and-run in the fourth quarter gave KHS a 31-14 edge. Carter led the Knights with 161 yards on the evening.

Morris struggled to get things going in a friendly atmosphere, and Kaneland’s second drive yielded a 22-yard field goal by kicker Matt Rodriguez for a 3-0 edge.

One of the most significant halves of football for Kaneland this season continued in the second quarter and led to three touchdowns. David found Zack Martinelli for 13 yards, as well as Carter from 53 and 3 yards out, to take a 24-0 lead by the end of the half.

Morris finally got into the contest and on the board when on the opening drive of the second half, the Redskins drove 77 yards in 16 plays. Anthonee Monson caught a fourth-down, 19-yard TD pass with 4:10 to go to make it 24-7.

Morris amped up the attack and scored on its next drive, thanks to Feeney’s six-yard touchdown with 9:51 remaining to make it 31-21.

Kaneland struck again when Carter caught a 63-yard TD pass to end a four-play drive with 7:39 remaining to make it 31-14.

Morris answered three plays later when Feeney found Jake Ruettiger for a 33-yard touchdown to set matters at 31-21 with 6:37 to go.

Blake Bradford came up with a key interception after Morris recovered an onside kick, but KHS was forced to punt. Morris closed out the scoring with 2:18 to go on a 20-yard TD pass to Danny Friend.

Knight Jake Razo recovered the Redskin onside kick attempt, leading to a drive that saw David lose the ball on the grass, but the officiating crew ruled him down before the fumble.

A couple of additional runs set the result in stone and a jovial Kaneland crew celebrated, for one week anyway.

The playoff landscape is plentiful for the Northern Illinois Big XII this weekend, as Rochelle and Sycamore have action this weekend.

The Hubs, as a 13th seed, travel to Gately Stadium in Chicago to face Urban Prep Charter on Saturday, Oct. 29, at 4 p.m.

12th-seeded Sycamore plays at Lane Stadium in Chicago at the same time against King High School, the Knights’ first-round opponent a year ago.

The winner of the KHS-Belvidere clash is slated to face either (8) St. Francis of Wheaton, or (9) Burlington Central.

Opportunity knocks for Kaneland

Photo: Tanner Andrews (center) brings down the Sycamore runner as Blake Bradford (left) closes in during Kaneland’s 35-21 road win over Sycamore on Friday. Photo by John DiDonna

35-21 win at Sycamore leads to Week Nine showdown at Morris
by Mike Slodki
SYCAMORE—For the second time in three weeks, Kaneland football had to dig deep for a double-digit comeback.

Dig deep it did, and the host rival Sycamore Spartans ended up in a hole.

Using key turnovers and big performances through the ground and air, the Knights improved to 8-0 (4-0 Northern Illinois Big XII) with a 35-21 win over the Spartans (5-3, 2-2 NIB-12).

This marks the second straight win over Sycamore and three wins in their last four meetings.

For the second consecutive year, the Knights have managed an 8-0 start to their gridiron campaign.

Friday’s win marked the 18th straight regular season win for the Knight crew, with the last loss in the regular season coming two years ago in an overtime loss to Geneva.

The second-half comeback sets the stage for a final showdown between the top two listed Class 5A teams on the IHSA Playoff Points scale: undefeated Morris and Kaneland this Friday, Oct. 21, in Grundy County.

Kaneland won the total yards battle, 398-235, and saw Drew David go 15-for-26 through the air for 283 yards along with two touchdowns and one interception.

David also led the way on the ground with 62 yards and a TD.

Senior leader Quinn Buschbacher had 130 yards on five catches, while teammate Zach Martinelli had 79 yards on five catches.

After an early fumble returned by Scott Baker to the five-yard line, Spartan Austin Culton punched it in for a touchdown just two minutes 31 seconds into the contest.

Sycamore then took a 14-0 lead on a 35-yard scoring strike from Ryan Bartels to Jordan Kalik with 5:19 to go in the quarter.

Kaneland finally got going on a 55-yard TD pass to Buschbacher with 3:43 remaining in the first to close within 14-7. The Knights also contributed the lone second quarter score as David found Buschbacher again on a 24-yard TD pass with 2:01 left in the half for a 14-14 deadlock.

Sycamore’s last visit to the end zone came with 7:34 remaining in the third quarter when Ben Niemann caught a 27-yard TD pass on a fourth-and-six for a 21-14 lead.

A fumble by Sycamore was recovered by Knight secondary member Jake Razo. Kaneland capitalized with a three-yard touchdown scamper by Buschbacher with 2:15 to go in the quarter for a 21-21 tie.

Play of the Knight—Sycamore
Jake Razo (8) seems to always give KHS a fighting chance. This time, he recovered the first of two costly SHS fumbles, leading to the game-tying touchdown in the third frame.

In the fourth quarter, momentum shifted Kaneland’s way for good.

After a Jesse Balluff 3-yard touchdown run with 11:05 left in the fourth gave Kaneland a 28-21, its first, Dylan Nauert recovered the Spartan kickoff return’s fumble, leading to a four-yard TD run by David just 51 seconds later.