Tag Archives: Drew David

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.

Winter Sports Preview: Season of change

Knight cagers hope returnees lead team full of newcomers
by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—There seems to be a wrinkle at the beginning of every Kaneland High School boys basketball season.

In 2009-10, Dave Dudzinski ran roughshod over the area, while in 2010-11, the Knights captured their first conference title since the Reagan administration. And in 2011-12, the Knights benefited from all-Northern Illinois Big XII selection and West Aurora transfer Marcel Neil and secured a Regional plaque.

Now, coach Brian Johnson has to prepare a group for a similar postseason run like the one that advanced to the Sycamore Sectional semifinal, but without personnel like Neil (at Kishwaukee Junior College) and junior Thomas Williams, who transferred to Texas.

“There’s been a lot of change, even from just the summer when we had Thomas, but we have some boys that have put in a lot of hard work,” Johnson said.

Among the group of hard-workers Johnson is talking about are senior guard Dan Miller and senior forward Matt Limbrunner, the two oldest reps on the Knight squad. The Knights will also expect heavy contributions from junior forward John Pruett and junior guard Tyler Carlson.

“Those guys have put in a lot of time. They’re good athletes and good kids. People ask me what type of team we’ll have and I don’t know yet,” Johnson said. “Last year, we could attack the rim, and we rebounded fairly well. I don’t know if we’ll be able to do all those things this year.”

Adding to the question pile is the health of third-year point guard Drew David, still on the mend after football bumps and bruises.

“It’ll be nice having Drew back in his third year at the point, and Tyler and John practiced with us all year and they know what we’re expecting,” Johnson said.

Also looking to contribute with varsity minutes in 2012-13 are sophomore guard Connor Fedderly and fellow sophomore guard Ben Barnes, junior forward Tom VanBogaert, junior guard Bailey Harvell and junior forward Cole Carlson, who saw quality summer minutes.

The Knights also bring a freshman guard into the mix in the form of Dylan Vaca.

“They’ll fill their roles as best they can and see some successes. This year, we’re going to have to be a team in every meaning of the word. That’s one thing I’ve really noticed, is we don’t necessarily have those go-to guys; they all work really well together,” Johnson said.

When it comes to the hierarchy of the NIB-12 and the odds of getting to a second conference title in three seasons, Johnson knows Kaneland must wade through several capable teams.

“DeKalb’s coming back with a really nice player in Andre Harris. Rochelle has their two guards that are very solid players. They’re good teams and are at the top of our league, and Yorkville did a really nice job last year,” Johnson said.

Action got underway on Wednesday at the Batavia Windmill Classic, with results unavailable as of press time against the hosts. The home opener is Friday, Nov. 30, against Morris, with the Knights once again making a stop at the Plano Christmas Classic, beginning on Saturday, Dec. 22.

No-Way for Knight football

Photo: Quarterback Drew David looks downfield under good blocking during the second quarter at Lincoln-Way West on Saturday. Photo by Patti Wilk

Lincoln-Way West builds big lead, eliminates Kaneland in second-round action
by Mike Slodki
NEW LENOX, Ill.—It’s been awhile since the Knight football team has seen that kind of offensive and defensive output from a playoff opponent.

The newest of the four Lincoln-Way schools, the Warriors from the West, used their playmakers to the best of their ability while employing their stingy defense on the way to a 31-15 upset of the Kaneland crew on Saturday afternoon.

In the first meeting of the two schools on the football field, the Warriors pressured Drew David and also broke long gains throughout the day in a meeting of No. 1 and No. 9 seeds in the Class 5A playoffs.

For Kaneland, it marks the earliest exit for the squad since 2009, when rival Sycamore bested the host Knights, 40-13, in a first-round matchup.

The Warriors improve to 8-3 on the year, while KHS finishes the season at 10-1, but still is 6-4 in its last 10 playoff encounters. The Knights will also enter 2013 with its 28-game regular season win streak intact.

Junior Drew David had his toughest game of the 2012 campaign, still nursing an injured hand. He was sacked seven times and threw for 84 yards with three interceptions.

L-WW saw its first scoring drive end with a nine-yard touchdown pass from Justin Keuch to Nick Andrade with 5:20 left in the first for a 7-0 lead.

L-WW struck again in the second quarter on a 10-play drive that ended with a 26-yard touchdown run out of the Wildcat formation by senior transfer Lavonte Blackful on fourth down for a 14-0 edge with 7:47 to go before halftime.

Kaneland fell victim to an interception on the ensuing drive’s second play, and runs by Blackful and Javier Montalvo set up a 22-yard field goal from Joe Leo with 2:00 left for a 17-0 lead going into the break.

The Warriors expanded on their lead when the running attack set up a 10-yard TD strike to Jake Robbins with 8:01 remaining in the third for a 24-0 edge.

Jesse Balluff (30) comforts quarterback Drew David (4) at the end of their playoff loss to Lincoln-Way West on Saturday. Photo by Patti Wilk

A dagger came after a KHS punt set up the hosts at their own 18, but Blackful went 82 yards for a score on a sweep with 2:24 remaining in the third for a 31-0 lead.

Kaneland finally found the end zone thanks to a nine-yard touchdown pass from Tyler Carlson to Zach Martinelli with 2:06 to go. Martinelli ran in the two-point try to make it 31-8. On its next possession, the Knights’ Carlson ran it in from the four with :47 left for the final 16-point margin.

KHS coach Tom Fedderly gave credit to the Warriors, a force to be reckoned with.

“It was tough, but we kind of got behind so much that we really had to go to our passing game,” Fedderly said. “We knew going in that we’d have to mix things up. To their credit, those guys did a great job. Offensively, they moved the ball on us.”

Lincoln-Way West faces Joliet Catholic in the third round, as the Hilltoppers beat Tinley Park on Saturday, 42-21.

NIB-12 champions

Last-minute heroics lead to win over Morris, 3rd-straight conference crown
by Mike Slodki
Kaneland—It was anyone’s ballgame to win.

By virtue of heightened play on their last drive, coupled with a bit of luck, it turned out to be Kaneland’s ballgame.

Echoing the dramatic narrative histrionics of a year ago in Grundy County, it came down to the Knights’ final possession against Morris on Friday, with Drew David throwing a five-yard, game-winning touchdown pass to Zach Martinelli with :27 left for a 33-30 win.

“We’ve run that route numerous times all year, and Drew put that ball on the money,” Martinelli said. “It couldn’t have been any better. I saw it coming and I was smiling.”

The win cemented Kaneland’s third straight undefeated regular season. Kaneland’s program has now won 28 regular season games in a row. Counting the postseason, KHS is 34-3 in its last 37 contests.

The Knights also finish the regular season as Northern Illinois Big XII East division champions and have never lost a conference game.

Kaneland outgained the visiting Redskins by a count of 408-280 and advanced 200 yards on the ground in the win.

Jesse Balluff provided immense support for the Knights with a 140-yard rushing effort with a touchdown, and even took some snaps out of the Wildcat formation to relieve David, who is still recovering from a nagging hand injury.

Morris quarterback Zach Cinnamon had a team-high 81 yards rushing.

His counterpart, David, was 13-for-21 for 208 yards with three touchdowns and an interception.

“I didn’t play last Friday, and I felt a little out of the game rhythm, but once we got back on the field for the first play I was good to go,” David said.

Martinelli was the top receiver with six catches for 124 yards.

KHS struck first in the opening frame, thanks to a third-down pass under pressure to Martinelli for a 59-yard touchdown with :10 left in the first for a 7-0 lead.

A kickoff return for a touchdown by Morris was called back because of a penalty, negating Morris’ chance to answer.

Morris’ first score came on a Cinnamon touchdown run from the 15-yard line with 4:21 remaining in the half.

KHS seemed to be moving toward another score, but a tipped pass was picked off by Josh Lincoln at the 5-yard line and returned all the way back to the 16-yard line of KHS. With time for one play, Fernando DelToro’s 33-yard field goal try ended the half with the Redskins taking a 10-7 lead.

Third-quarter scoring got underway with Balluff galloping over a tackler and going for a 53-yard touchdown with 8:38 remaining for a 14-10 lead in the third quarter.

The following drive went eight plays, featuring Balluff runs and a pass to Kyle Pollastrini. However, the drive stalled, allowing Matt Rodriguez to boot a 41-yard field goal for a 17-10 lead with 3:10 remaining.

Morris took five plays to find the end zone as Anthonee Monson scored on a 16-yard TD pass with :56 left in the frame to tie the score.

The fourth quarter began with six Balluff runs and a 39-yard field goal for a 20-17 lead with 9:52 remaining in regulation.

Morris used an Austin Hogan kickoff return to set up shop at the KHS 31. Reese Sobol scored on a 20-yard touchdown run on the fourth play of the drive for a 24-20 Morris lead with 8:01 remaining.

Kaneland made good on the next drive: an eight-play, 70-yard drive that ended with Dylan Nauert catching a touchdown pass from the 14 out of trips formation for a 27-24 edge with 4:10 remaining.

The two squads traded punts with Morris scoring next, thanks to a 49-yard scamper by Cinnamon with 1:58 remaining. The extra-point try was no good, but Morris still led 30-27.

After two incomplete passes, David rushed for 15, 33 and two yards to put the Knights in solid Redskins territory.

A pass to Pollastrini was good for 19 yards, which set up the final successful play.

Morris had a chance to drive 69 yards in 21 seconds, but Cinnamon was sacked on the final play.

“We go every week saying it’s going to be a four-quarter game,” KHS coach Tom Fedderly. “We’ve got to play every single second of the game until the last play is done, and we had to do it tonight.”

Kaneland, as the No. 1 seed on its side of the bracket, will host No. 16 Belvidere at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 27. Kaneland held on against the Bucs in the first round of the 2011 playoffs for a 51-45 barnburner.

IHSA Class 5A Playoff Notes
No. 1 Kaneland will host Belvidere High School in the first round of the Class 5A State Series.

Belvidere comes to Kaneland with a 5-4 overall record, and averages a 12.2 scoring deficit for the year.

Meanwhile, Kaneland enters the playoffs with a perfect 9-0 record, outscoring its opponents by an average 28.1 points per game.

No lows at 7-0

Photo: Kaneland’s Ryan Lawrence (29) gets in on the ball carrier with help coming from Bradley Johnson (79) and Gary Koehring (5) during the second quarter of the varsity boy’s 55-0 win at Yorkville on Friday. Photo by Patti Wilk

Knights take hunt to Foxes in 55-0 win
by Mike Slodki
YORKVILLE—Foxes football must have felt like it was in a valley of the same name after the final buzzer sounded on Friday.

Jesse Balluff and his fellow Knights peaked again, and not for the first time.

With four touchdowns, Balluff and crew triggered a running clock for the fourth time in seven tries in 2012, en route to a 55-0 win over the host Yorkville squad at Campbell Field.

Kaneland improved to 7-0 (3-0 Northern Illinois Big XII East), while Yorkville fell to 3-4 (0-3). The Knights still have yet to lose a NIB-12 conference matchup since the group’s inception in 2010, and begin 7-0 for the third consecutive season.

Kaneland has now won 26 regular season contests in a row, dating back to the final week of the 2009 regular season, and 28 of its last 30 contests overall.

Like last week, KHS had no trouble getting off to a good start, as it found the end zone on its first five possessions. They did the same on their first six drives in a win over DeKalb on Sept. 28.

Quarterback Drew David and Balluff each had a game-high 75 yards on the ground and helped KHS to 238 rushing yards overall.

David finished the night 8-of-13 for 175 yards and three touchdowns with one interception.

Dylan Nauert’s 69 yards receiving led the team.

After the first YHS drive came up empty, Kaneland used six plays to go 62 yards, which ended on an 18-yard TD pass to Balluff in the flat on a crucial third-down play.

Kaneland was up 7-0 with 8:19 left in the first and never looked back.

“I saw the opening and took it,” Balluff said. “Our lineman are just amazing this year, it’s ridiculous.”

Another Yorkville dead-end drive had KHS set up shop at the Fox 41, where runs by Balluff and Nate Dyer set up a 12-yard TD pass to Nauert with 3:50 left in the first for a 13-0 lead.

A drive that spanned two quarters ended after nine plays with a six-yard score from Balluff, making it 20-0 with 8:40 left in the second quarter.

Yorkville found itself punting again, setting up a one-play drive that ended on a 60-yard catch and run TD for Nauert and a 27-0 edge with 3:45 to go in the first half.

Balluff intercepted a pass on defense allowing Kaneland to set up shop at the hosts’ 36. A run by David and pass to Balluff paved the way for Balluff to catch another touchdown in the open field for a 34-0 lead with 2:10 to go in the first half.

“We can score from the 20; we have a very powerful offense. Even at the 50, we can score quicker and score more often,” Balluff said.

KHS was up to old and beneficial tricks to begin the second half, as the opening six-play drive ended with a 31-yard TD run by Balluff with 9:33 to go, which made it 41-0.

The fourth quarter saw additional touchdowns on runs by Tyler Carlson and Isaac Swithers for the final margin.

KHS coach Tom Fedderly keeps seeing the troops improve week after winning week.

“The further we go in the season, the more meaning the games have,” Fedderly said. “We know we need to improve if we want to be a conference champ or be in a big game.”

Kaneland will try to handle Sycamore in Maple Park on Friday, Oct. 12.

A year ago saw the Knights take out Sycamore along Spartan Trail in a 35-21 game. Sycamore comes off a 26-14 win against the Rochelle Hubs and enters Friday with a 5-2 mark.

Rout(e) 66

Photo by Patti Wilk
Kaneland scores on 1st 6 possessions in NIB-12 tilt with DeKalb
by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—Fellow Northern Illinois Big XII (NIB-12) schools must be shaking their collective heads when it comes to the prospect of facing Kaneland football.

Meanwhile, the Knights continue to raise their fists in triumph.

The latest example was this past Friday, in which the Knights rolled the DeKalb Barbs by a final of 66-23 at Peterson Field in Maple Park.

Kaneland improved to 6-0, with a 2-0 mark in Northern Illinois Big XII East Division play. The Knights have yet to lose a conference game since the inception of the NIB-12.

Additionally, Kaneland has won 25 regular season contests in a row, and 27 of its last 29 overall.

With the latest home victory, Kaneland has not lost at home since an overtime loss at the hands of Geneva in 2009.

KHS has now defeated DeKalb seven times in a row, although that streak was in jeopardy a year ago when the Barbs enjoyed a 17-point third quarter lead before a gargantuan KHS comeback.

“We’re trying to prove every week that we want to be a good team,” KHS coach Tom Fedderly said. “We’ve got to be able to beat a team like this to do what we want to do.”

There would be no early lead for DeKalb, with the Knights rattling off 38 straight points after an initial 7-7 tie.

Knight quarterback Drew David was 7-of-14 for 209 yards, while Kaneland also employed two 100-yard rushers due to bullish running. Jesse Balluff had 162 yards on 11 carries, while teammate and usual goal-line option Nate Dyer had 11 carries for 111 yards.

Dylan Nauert had four catches for 128 yards to lead the receiver corps.

The scoring festivities started with a 20-yard touchdown throw from David to Martinelli two-and-a-half minutes into the game for a 7-0 lead.

DeKalb had its brief celebratory moment on an 88-yard Dylan Hottsmith kickoff return for a touchdown that tied the score 14 seconds later.

KHS responded three plays later on a 60-yard TD pass to Nauert over the middle to make it 14-7 with 8:07 left in the first.

After a Barb punt snap went awry, the Knights took over at DeKalb’s 15-yard line and punched it in with Dyer two plays later on a 4-yard score with 7:29 to go, making it 21-7.

DeKalb came up empty on its next drive, and Balluff ran to the endzone from the 14-yard line with 3:50 to go in the first for a 28-7 lead.

In the second frame, the Knights’ David ran it on the next drive with 9:45 to go for a 35-7 lead. DeKalb was picked off by Kory Harner, setting up shop at the Barbs’ 20. Nauert caught a 19-yard TD pass on the third play of the drive to make it 42-7 with 7:50 to go in the half.

KHS’ Martinelli returned a 50-yard punt return for a touchdown, which would have set the Knights’ third running clock of the season into effect, but it was called back on a holding penalty, and David threw a pick near the goal line to end the drive.

Matt Rodriguez hit a 43-yard field goal on the next drive for a 45-7 lead with 1:51 to go in the half.

A punt by DeKalb was swarmed by Kaneland special teams, giving the ball to KHS at the 18 of the Barbs.

Nauert caught a TD pass that was negated by a holding penalty, which led to Rodriguez missing a 28-yard field goal attempt at the end of the half.

The third-quarter scoring began on a DeKalb touchdown throw with 6:25 to go, which made it 45-14. Balluff’s 80-yard touchdown run 21 seconds later brought the margin to 52-15.

Martinelli caught a four-yard score on the next drive to kick in the running clock with 3:13 to go in the third for a 59-14 edge.

Dyer closed the scoring out in the fourth quarter with 8:35 to play on a touchdown run.

Massive touchdown runs on Friday had the offensive line to thank.

“On both sides, the line is playing at a very high level,” lineman Jamaureo Phillips said. “We have ups and downs, but we are consistent and we’re working on it.”

Kaneland heads to Kendall County to visit the Yorkville Foxes on Friday, Oct. 5. Yorkville comes off a 44-41 loss to visiting Rochelle this past Friday, and sits at 3-3 with an 0-2 mark in NIB-12 play.

Roast of Rochelle

Photo: Dylan Nauert (20) supplies a good block for running back Jesse Balluff (30). Kaneland went to Rochelle Friday and came away with a solid 34-6 victory. Photo by Patti Wilk

Knights’ passing attack works with defense in 34-6 win at Rochelle
by Mike Slodki
ROCHELLE—Knights football is making road quests feel like home.

That’s how good they’ve been playing.

Coming to the end of the 2012 opening stretch in which they’ve played four of their first five games on the road, the Knights invaded their first Northern Illinois Big XII East division test: Rochelle.

The Knights held Rochelle’s vaunted wing-T offense in check, subdued the Hubs’ determination after losing to KHS in the Class 5A quarterfinals 10 months ago, and came away with a 34-6 win. That is the sixth consecutive win over Rochelle, a span that started following the Knights’ loss that launched the Hubs’ new football facility in 2007.

The Knights’ staunch defense allowed just 140 yards to the running game of Rochelle, and has allowed just six points in the last three games.

Junior QB Drew David was 11-for-19 for 262 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions, while receiver Dylan Nauert hauled in five passes for 135 yards and two scores.

“Our line’s been blocking really well. When they give me lots of time and I’m able to get it to those guys, they’re able to make guys miss and can take it all the way at any time,” David said.

After a scoreless tie marked the first quarter of play, the Knights converted points on their fourth drive.

Nauert hauled in a pass, emerged from an attempted tackle, and went down the KHS sideline for an 86-yard touchdown and a 7-0 lead with 6:49 remaining in the first half.

“I knew I had to run the hitch and I ran it. I saw the opening and ran as fast as I could,” Nauert said.

David threw a pick on the next drive, but after forcing Rochelle to punt, Jesse Balluff caught a pass in stride and raced 58 yards for another score at a 14-0 lead with 1:40 to go before halftime.

Rochelle’s Tony Walsh, the Hubs’ leading rusher on the night, capped an eight-play drive with a four-yard score with 2:41 to go in the third frame, but the extra-point attempt missed to put the score at 14-6.

Whatever good feeling the Hubs had was quickly erased as runs by David, Balluff and Nate Dyer advanced the ball, along with a pass to Zack Martinelli.

Balluff plunged in from the two-yard line to make the score 21-6 with 1:23 to go in the third quarter.

Kaneland’s two scoring drives in the final 12-minute set happened with a Dyer touchdown run with 10:26 to play, and when Nauert caught a 32-yard touchdown pass with 6:27 remaining.

“They’re just getting better and better,” KHS coach Tom Fedderly said. “We found out what they’re good at and they’re making improvements. Everything we do starts with the guys up front.”

For the third straight year, Kaneland opened its season 5-0 (1-0 in the NIB-12 East).

The Knights have yet to lose a conference game since the inception of the new school formation in 2010. Their regular season win streak sits at 24, with wins in 26 of its last 28 contests, and they have not lost a road game since losing in Geneva in week eight of 2008.

The Knights host DeKalb on Friday, Sept. 28, with the 1-4 Barbs coming off a win against Streator.

Demolition Knight

Photo: Running back Jesse Balluff heads for the end zone for a score during the first quarter of Kaneland’s 42-0 home victory against Sterling on Friday. Photo by John DiDonna

Kaneland dominates on both sides of ball in 42-0 rout of Sterling
by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—Kaneland and Sterling’s football programs have had two highly anticipated and dramatic meetings in the last seven seasons.

The battle on Friday in Maple Park was no less anticipated, but maybe less dramatic.

A stifling rush defense and an all-cylinders offense paved the way for a 42-0 win over the visiting and AP-ranked Golden Warriors, raising the Kaneland season mark to 3-0. Sterling fell to 2-1.

KHS saw its regular season win streak extend to 22. The Knights have now won 27 out of their last 29 overall contests.

“Sterling is a playoff-caliber team, and we thought it would be a playoff atmosphere,” KHS coach Tom Fedderly said. “We really wanted to be up and show that we are a good team.”

Quarterback Drew David employed the run at his disposal and was a modest six-of-10 for 133 yards and two touchdowns. Nate Dyer had 70 yards rushing.

Even before they both shared spots in the Northern Illinois Big XII, KHS and Sterling went toe-to-toe in playoff action in recent years.

The Knights and Golden Warriors battled in a 2006 Class 5A quarterfinal playoff game that saw KHS outlast Sterling in overtime, 52-45.

Two years later, Sterling earned a 23-21 win in the first round of the playoffs.

The margin was wider in 2012, and the Knights got into the act early thanks to a 45-yard touchdown strike to Brandon Bishop for his first score of the still-new campaign for a 7-0 lead with 6:11 left in the first frame.

On the next possession, the Knights got mass yardage from Zack Martinelli for a 27-yard gain, and two plays later, running back Jesse Balluff plunged in from the two for a 14-0 lead with 4:11 to go in the first quarter.

The second quarter was more of the same, as a four-play drive from KHS mixed a little of pass and run and ended with a David touchdown run from the three-yard line with 10:16 to go in the second quarter for a 21-0 advantage.

After Sterling’s drive ended in a punt, Balluff, Dyer and David took turns carrying the ball until Dyer punched it in from the four for a 28-0 lead with 4:20 to go in the half.

On a fourth-and-20 from its own 36, a punt snap went awry and was recovered on the 13 by Cole Carlson. Four plays later, Bishop caught a touchdown pass from the seven-yard line on third down to make it 35-0 before halftime with 1:34 remaining.

The third quarter began with a long and sustained drive on the part of KHS. A 14-play drive concluded with a 22-yard TD run by Dyer, who navigated the holes enough to send the game onto a running clock.

It marks the first running clock achieved by Kaneland since a 56-14 win at LaSalle-Peru on Sept. 16, 2011.

It was that kind of day for Sterling football, and it was that kind of day for linebacker Gary Koehring, playing at a high level this year.

It was no different on Friday, as Koehring and the Knights allowed just 78 yards of offense, 45 in the first quarter.

“Our coaches put us in the right spots, and all we’ve got to do is study what they give us on film and hard work; that’s all we’ve got to do,” Koehring said. “I feel that I’m playing better and buying into what the coaches are saying.”

Up ahead for Kaneland is a trip to Streator High School on Friday, Sept. 14, which ends the crossover portion of the 2012 schedule.

Offense name of the game in Knights win

Photo: Dylan Nauert comes down with the ball from a pass by Drew David in the first quarter. Kaneland went on the road to beat Huntley 52-35. Photo by Patti Wilk

Kaneland improves to 2-0 after enduring furious Huntley rally
by Mike Slodki
HUNTLEY—It’s not one quarter of football, but rather four.

Once again, the Kaneland Knights football team had to endure a string of successful drives by the opposition.

Unlike Week 1, the Knights maintained the lead the entire way and saw their lead grow from a one-score situation in a 52-35 win at Huntley High School on Friday.

While the Red Raiders closed a 35-7 halftime chasm to 35-28 in the third quarter, the Knights’ offensive unit clicked despite three turnovers.

An air assault highlighted by junior quarterback Drew David’s four touchdowns and 348 yards passing, plus three touchdowns by wideout Zack Martinelli, helped withstand the Huntley comeback.

KHS coach Tom Fedderly was eager to see his Knights on the gridiron after their opening game in Chicago the previous Saturday.

“These kids have a lot of pride,” Fedderly said. “We had a great week of practice and tried to correct some things. Obviously, there are things we’ve got to improve on. I’m really happy with our first half.”

That first half started with a bang as David executed a flawless ball fake and ran 40 yards for a touchdown for a 7-0 lead just one minute, 23 seconds into the contest.

David later found Dylan Nauert for a 10-yard scoring strike with 7:18 remaining in the first for a 14-0 edge.

A Huntley drive accented the run with an eight-play, 80-yard drive ending on a four-yard QB keeper by Kam Sallee to make it 14-7 with 3:51 to go in the first.

It took just five plays for KHS to respond, this time in the form of a five-yard touchdown pass to Martinelli with 1:03 to go for a 21-7 lead.

The David-to-Martinelli connection hit paydirt twice more in the second quarter. A 10-yard TD with 6:29 to go made it 28-7, while a 12-yard score with 2:07 closed the first-half scoring and increased the margin to four touchdowns.

Huntley roared out of the gates in the third quarter, capping an opening drive with a 28-yard TD pass to Bryce Beschomer with 9:07 to go to make it 35-14.

The Red Raiders then converted two consecutive drive-killing interceptions to touchdowns on their end. Sallee ran it in from 19 yards to close to within 35-20 with 7:40 remaining, and Jake Lackovic caught a 23-yard pass for a touchdown with 4:45 to go, with the two-point try setting the score at 35-28.

KHS brought the momentum back by finding the end zone thanks to a one-yard plunge by goal-line option Nate Dyer with 9:31 left for a 42-28 lead. Matt Rodriguez’ 24-yard field goal gave KHS a three-score lead at 45-28 with 6:27 remaining.

Dyer’s nine-yard touchdown witha 3:06 to play made it 52-28 before a late Huntley TD set the final tally.

Kaneland’s many heroes included David, who also paced the ground game with 98 yards, Kyle Pollastrini with 120 yards receiving, and Martinelli.

Martinelli was reminded of a previous encounter that involved holding on to a big lead.

“It reminded me of Morris (Week 9 in 2011) where I was like ‘not again,’” Martinelli said. “We played three great quarters, and now we have to bring up that third quarter.”

KHS plays its home opener on Friday, Sept. 7, against Northern Illinois Big XII school Sterling. This will be the first meeting since November 2008, in which Sterling ousted Kaneland in a first-round playoff game.

Cutting it close

Photo: Wide receiver Dylan Nauert gets away from a Brooks tackler during Kaneland’s 25-24 road win on Saturday. Photo by Ryan Wells

Knights overcome slow start for 25-24 win
by Mike Slodki
CHICAGO—It wasn’t the start the Kaneland Knights football outfit wanted, but it’ll take the finish.

A late touchdown pass from junior quarterback Drew David to receiver Zack Martinelli with 3:11 remaining in the fourth quarter capped the comeback mountain against Chicago’s Brooks Prep Eagles on Saturday for a 25-24 week 1 win.

The second-half flurry completed a 24-6 comeback over the vastly improved hosts at Gately Stadium, which lays a field goal away from Chicago State University.

It was 365 days earlier that Kaneland’s attack produced a running clock for the entire second half in a 44-0 rout over Brooks.

Saturday’s contest echoed last year’s 17-point comeback win in September 2011 at DeKalb, and was a mirror image of sorts to Montini Catholic’s late comeback over Kaneland in the Class 5A State semis.

Kaneland has now won 20 consecutive regular season games in a row, and 25 of its last 27.

The streak was in jeopardy often on Saturday, due to the offensive output from Brooks quarterback Ahmad Bradshaw and tailback Cleveland Clark. Brooks tallied 324 total yards.

“They were running sweeps outside and then started running some options, and we had problems with our option responsibility,” KHS coach Tom Fedderly said. “In the second half, we made some adjustments and tried to bring a little heat from the outside.”

For Kaneland, David went 14-for-30 for 275 yards with two touchdown throws and a pick.

Martinelli caught six passes for 163 yards and two scores.

In the first quarter, Brooks hit paydirt first on its second drive, when Clark powered in from the one-yard line with 3:14 remaining for a 7-0 lead after a nine-play drive.

Dylan Nauert helped answer with a reception, and combined with a face mask penalty, the play netted 30 yards. Back Nate Dyer scored the first Knights touchdown of 2012 with a six-yard plunge, but Matt Rodriguez missed the point afterward to keep it 7-6 with :57 left.

Brooks continued to control the ball and clock in the following frame, and it led to a 21-yard field goal by Jesus Miranda with 5:12 to go in the second quarter for a 10-6 lead.

A Nauert touchdown pass was called back due to offsetting penalties, and the Knights were forced to punt.

Brooks made good on the new opportunity with a Clark five-yard touchdown run to make it 17-6 with :23 left in the half.

Bradshaw accounted for a 39-yard touchdown run on an option play to make it 24-6 with 4:32 to go, but Martinelli caught a 62-yard rainbow 12 seconds later to make it 24-13.

The fourth quarter started to shift the way of KHS, and after a Brooks punt, Nauert’s 48-yard catch brought the ball into Eagles territory. Nine plays later, Dyer’s two-yard touchdown run with 8:29 left closed the gap to within 24-19 after a missed two-point try.

Brooks punted again, allowing Kaneland to orchestrate its go-ahead drive. Martinelli grabbed a 29-yard slant pass to set up his touchdown reception that saw him juke a defender on a screen.

‘We’ve had a lot of hitches all week,” Martinelli said. “We’re coached to turn outside and I saw him turn inside.”

Martinelli knew the offensive side of the ball had to adjust in the final two quarters.

“I talked to Drew at halftime and told him it was just like DeKalb,” Martinelli said. “We’ve got to step it up and calm down. Once he calms down, Drew is probably one of the best quarterbacks in the state.”

Kaneland travels to Huntley High School to face the Red Raiders on Friday, Aug. 31. Kaneland has earned the upper hand in the last three meetings.

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

Kaneland holds court in summertime

Photo: Drew David moves the ball upcourt against a Belleville West defender during Tuesday’s action at the 27th Annual Morris Boys Shootout. Photo by Mike Slodki

Boys hoops
competes in
Morris Shootout

by Mike Slodki
MORRIS—Twenty-minute halves, a running clock, and kids wearing something akin to rec-league warmups.

But the Kaneland boys basketball trip to the 27th annual Morris Shootout, occurring Tuesday and Wednesday, was anything but rec.

With the Knights in Pool H against the likes of Belleville West, Oswego and Pekin high schools, the Kaneland group was taking this 32-team affair as a chance to show skills.

Even with a 12-point loss to the downstate Maroons in the books to open matters, coach Brian Johnson takes each summer day to see what he has.

“We’re trying to figure out what we have, and we made mistakes, but that stuff usually irons itself out by the time the season comes around,” Johnson said.

The Knight boys have participated in leagues at Geneva and DeKalb high schools, to go along with camps and lifting during the morning hours.

It makes for a different style of basketball once tip-off happens.

“They are competing out there and it’s a little more freelance. There’s a lot of kids out there that play a lot of basketball. We’re a team with kids that play three sports, and it’s a little more freelance when it comes to the summer. We’re not really a freelance team, and I think that will show when the season rolls around.”

Kaneland’s new faces for summer ball are Dylan Nauert, Brock Robertson, Bailey Harvell, Dylan Vaca, Cole Carlson, Tom VanBogaert and Shane Jorgensen.

Returning are Clay Denlinger, Dan Miller, Drew David, Thomas Williams, Tyler Carlson and John Pruett, making for a core to build around once summer progresses to the late fall.

“They’re going to do a nice job-—all the guys coming back. They’re poised to have really nice seasons, and we need to see where everyone kind of fits into play,” Johnson said.

The Knights head off to the Geneva League Tournament on Thursday, June 28.

Knights bounced: E-Rabs’ fourth spells doom for KHS in sectional

by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—There exists no direct or obvious correlation for higher drama the further you go in the Class 3A boys basketball playoffs.

That seemed to be ever true for coach Brian Johnson’s Knight crew, but the excitement failed to tip their way by the final buzzer on Tuesday night in Sycamore.

Victimized by a furious fourth quarter in the Sycamore Sectional semifinal by Rockford East High School, and more specifically, Steven McNease, KHS fell 66-54 to end its season at 17-11 (5-5 Northern Illinois Big XII Conference).

Kaneland has now ended all three seasons with Johnson at the helm with 17 wins.

The E-Rabs now head to the sectional final on Friday, March 9.

It was on the opposite end of the emotional spectrum from Friday night’s 65-61 overtime comeback win in the Rochelle Regional final, which secured Kaneland’s first regional plaque since 1999.

Against Rockford East, Marcel Neil had a team-high 14 points, while Thomas Williams had 13, but it was McNease’s 26 points, including 21 in the fourth quarter, that spelled the end for the Knights.

Going into the final eight minutes tied at 35, and even holding a slim 45-44 lead with four minutes, 52 seconds to go, the Knights were outscored 31-19 in the last frame. The E-Rabs went on a 22-9 run to conclude the game.

“Our boys made a match and (Rockford East) had to fight to get the win,” Johnson said. “We won a regional, and that’s something they can be proud of.”

Down 26-15 with 2:47 to go in the first half, Kaneland used baskets from Drew David, Tyler Heinle and Williams to close within 26-23 at halftime.

The third quarter was closer, and a Neil putback made it 27-26 Kaneland 55 ticks into the half. With time winding down, a Matt Limbrunner close-range bucket with 1:10 to go gave KHS a 35-33 edge before Rockford East tied it with 57 seconds remaining.

Both teams exhibited high percentages in the fourth and traded shot for shot. Dan Miller’s two foul shots with 4:10 to go tied it at 47, but McNease caught fire with a trifecta to give the E-Rabs the lead for good with 4:02 left.

The lead increased to 56-49 with 2:05 to go and could get no closer with Rockford East playing the turnovers and steals to their advantage.

In a happier circumstance against the host Hubs in Ogle County, the Knights were paced by Neil with 21 and Williams with 19.

KHS also went 29-for-36 from the foul line, while Rochelle went 13-for-16.

Down 33-20 at halftime in a raucous setting, Kaneland composed itself and closed within 42-33 at the end of three.

Down by as many as 10 in the fourth, Kaneland found itself down 57-49 with 2:17.

All the Knights did from then on was put in the last eight points of regulation to force overtime.

A basket by Neil and followed by his three-point play with 1:29 to go closed it to 57-55, while Williams’ free throws with 44.7 to go tied the score at 57 to force another frame.

KHS took control with an inside move by Neil 90 seconds into OT, and then went up by as much as six with foul shots by David, Williams and Neil.

“We had to dig deep,” Neil said. “In that fourth quarter, we knew it was going to take leadership. We stepped up and hit big shots.”

The Knights say goodbye to Neil, Tyler Heinle, Trever Heinle and Bryan Van Bogaert.

Boys BB shows playoff hoop skills in win over Spartans

Photo: KHS head coach Brian Johnson tries to spur a comeback in the fourth period of Kaneland’s close match against Rochelle on Friday. Rochelle escaped with a 59-57 NIB-12 win. Photo by Patti Wilk

by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—This has already turned out to be a better postseason than the last for KHS boys hoops.

Exorcising some demons of last year’s season-ending regional opener loss to Aurora Central Catholic on March 2, 2011, top-seed Kaneland worked their offense and came weathered Sycamore runs for a solid 55-45 win.

Sycamore (9-20) had outlasted Burlington Central in the opening game of the Rochelle Regional.

Kaneland is set to play two-seed Rochelle on Friday, March 2, at 7:30 p.m. after the Hubs edged Hampshire, 59-57.

The Knights, now 16-10, have a chance to make good on a regional title after losing to DeKalb two years ago in Maple Park.

The task at hand on Tuesday was more difficult than listed on paper, with the Spartans on a positive trajectory and having gotten the better of Kaneland in the second regular-season meeting.

“It’s a big win against a conference opponent, and they beat us earlier in the year,” KHS coach Brian Johnson said. “This is going to be a tough game no matter what.”

The victory marked a nice change of pace for the Knights after sustaining two losses in a row—the first time that has happened since Jan. 18, 2011.

Thomas Williams and Marcel Neil had 15 points apiece, and Trever Heinle had 13 points. It was all the better to combat Sycamore’s Devin Mottet, who scored the Spartans’ first 10 points of the evening and finished with 20.

Down 8-4 early, Heinle had a putback, Williams made two foul shots, and with 4.6 seconds to go, Dan Miller sunk a shot to go up 10-8.

Williams’ basket with 1:38 to go in the half made it 22-16 before a Spartan three just before the buzzer cut the margin to three at the half.

The offense started to click for KHS midway through the quarter on a Drew David three for a 31-21 lead with 4:21 to go. Tyler Heinle’s trey with 4.6 to go made it 36-27 by the buzzer.

The lead ballooned to 44-31 with 4:18 to go, and the free throws did the rest of the damage.

Tyler Heinle and Neil came up with pivotal three-point plays, as well.

“We knew coming into the game they’d been playing a lot better,” David said. “We knew we had to compete from the beginning.”

In the regular season finale, the Knights’ comeback fell short against the Hubs, 59-57—a reversal of fortune from the regular season finale a year ago that resulted in a Northern Illinois Big XII conference title.

The Knights were paced by Williams’ 15 points, Tyler Heinle’s 13 and Neil’s 12.

Yorkville gets the best of Knight boys

Photo: Drew David makes a mad scramble for the ball during a 62-51 setback against Yorkville. The Foxes executed a regular season sweep of KHS. Photo by John DiDonna

KANELAND—After a long drive to Streator led to victory earlier last week, Kaneland was looking to ride the victory bus against Yorkville right in its own backyard.

As it was, the Fox roundballers put Kaneland in a rut on Friday.

With Kaneland struggling on the offensive end for an important portion of the game, KHS fell 62-51 to Yorkville.

The regular season sweep by Yorkville over the host Knights sunk the Kaneland record to 15-9 with a 5-4 mark in Northern Illinois Big XII conference action.

Kaneland has gone 6-4 in its previous 10 battles this season, and has not lost two in a row at any point through 24 games.

Thomas Williams produced a game-high 20 points, while Marcel Neil added 10 of his own.

The Knights were in decent standing after the first quarter with a 13-all tie, but the points came at a high premium in the next two frames.

Yorkville went into the locker room up 30-18, and found itself ahead 44-26 after the third quarter

The Knight offense found another gear with 25 points in the fourth, but the onslaught was too late.

The sophomores came away with a 53-51 overtime win over Yorkville, as John Pruett had 16 points in the win.

The freshmen lost to Morris, 35-26 in the NIB-12 tournament.

Just one more regular season game remains for the Knights—a home battle against Rochelle on Friday, Feb. 24.

Kaneland, the number-one seed in the Class 3A Rochelle Regional, faces either Burlington Central or Sycamore on Tuesday, Feb. 28, at 6 p.m.

Knight hoops splits vs. Nazareth, DeKalb

Photo: Thomas Williams gets fouled in the fourth quarter of Kaneland’s 65-55 win at DeKalb on Friday. Williams led all scorers with 21 points. Photo by John DiDonna

Neil contributes 19 in comeback win vs. Streator
by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—Sometimes the losses that befell a team can reveal positive qualities.

Despite the Knights falling behind by as much as 15 points at the end of the first quarter, Kaneland charged back against Nazareth Academy on Saturday afternoon and showed resolve before losing 54-49.

That setback came off the heels of a season sweep-inducing win in DeKalb on Friday night, 64-55.

Kaneland also took it to host Streator on Tuesday by a final of 53-41.

The Knights are now 15-8 with a 5-3 record in Northern Illinois Big XII conference tussles.

The Wheaton Academy Shootout affair in West Chicago had Kaneland outscore Nazareth in the final three quarters, but had trouble at times with inside threat Tyler Jackson, who scored 16 points in the post.

Marcel Neil had a game-high 17 points, followed by Matt Limbrunner’s 13 and Thomas Williams’ 10.

Down 22-7 after the first eight minutes, the Knights gradually adapted to the athletic adversary and made five shots in a row, cutting it down to 35-30 with 4:18 to go in the third quarter, thanks to a Limbrunner basket.

Drew David’s basket with 1:52 to go in the third closed the deficit to 37-35.

Nazareth Academy hit five of seven shots, but Kaneland’s Limbrunner converted an offensive putback to close to within 45-44 with 3:35 remaining.

Nazareth hit a three to make it 48-44. Later, Neil’s offensive putback with 3:01 to go made it 48-46, which would be as close as Kaneland would get for the rest of the contest.

Coach Brian Johnson saw a team that was still recovering from a hard-fought win the previous night, and did its best with a versatile lineup from LaGrange Park.

“That seven-footer is a tough player,” Johnson said. “He really intimidated our guys early, but as the game went on, they decided to take it to the bucket more and Marcel and Limbrunner really stayed strong.”

Taking on the Barbs for the first time in their Dresser Road digs, a 21-point effort from Williams and 10 apiece from Neil and Trever Heinle did the trick.

The Knights took a 21-18 lead after one but saw the lead flip to a 31-30 DeKalb edge at the half.

Kaneland’s prolific output in the third gave the visitors a 54-48 lead before holding firm in the fourth quarter.

DeKalb fell victim to a 22-for-30 night from Kaneland on the foul line.

Taking on the Streator Bulldogs of the West Division, Kaneland was buoyed by Neil’s 19 points, a game-high. The former West Aurora product was the only Knight in double figures. Kaneland went 17-for-31 from the foul line.

KHS was up 9-8 after one but fell behind 22-19 at the half. The Knights climbed back within 35-34 before dominating the fourth.

KHS is slated to battle the visiting Yorkville Foxes in the penultimate regular season battle on Friday, Feb. 17, at 7 p.m.

Knight boys take pitfall vs. Sycamore

Photo: Drew David drives with determination against Sycamore defenders. Kaneland lost at home against Sycamore 51-42. Photo by Patti Wilk

KANELAND—There shall be no sweep of the Spartans in 2012.

Dealing with a double-digit lead at halftime, Kaneland fell victim to playing catch-up ball and found itself on the wrong end of a 51-42 result against the visiting Spartans on Saturday afternoon.

The lone game of the week had Kaneland drop to 13-7 on the season, with a 4-3 record in Northern Illinois Big XII Conference play.

The game was in stark contrast to the 70-42 win on Dec. 10, 2011, in Sycamore.

Marcel Neil supplied a game-high 14 points, despite being on the losing end.

KHS was also stung by a 6-for-14 shooting night at the foul line, compared to 16-for-23 by Sycamore.

Sycamore went on top early, 14-7, before expanding the lead by the halftime buzzer to 24-14.

The margin remained steadfast at 34-24 by the end of the third, before Kaneland’s offense came alive in the fourth, but it only served to bring the deficit to nine.

The sophomores lost their battle with Sycamore by a 52-42 clip. Tyler Carlson had 15 points.

A full week greets the Knights varsity contingent with a trip to DeKalb on Friday, Feb. 10, a jaunt to the Wheaton Academy Shootout on Saturday, Feb. 11, and a drive to Streator on Tuesday, Feb. 14, for some NIB-12 hoops.

Boys conquer home floors of Rochelle, Geneseo


Photo: Marcel Neil takes the route less travelled during Friday’s 60-56 comeback win in the land of the Hubs. Photo by Patti Wilk

by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—Last year’s Northern Illinois Big XII Conference East division champions are playing at quite the competitive level.

That piece of aggravating news is not exactly, what future opponents wished to hear, and it’s what foes Rochelle and Geneseo experienced first-hand this weekend.

With a 60-56 comeback win in Rochelle on Friday, followed by a two-hour trip west on Interstate 88 and a 55-46 win in Geneseo, the Knights currently sit at 13-6 (4-2 NIB-12). Kaneland is now in the midst of a three-game win streak, and has won seven of its last 10 contests.

The past two years at this time, the Knights have been 11-8.

The last two contests between the Knights and Hubs featured an energized battle for conference supremacy in Ogle County in February 2011, and a 16-point comeback win on the Knights floor the month prior.

This time, it was Drew David leading the way for Kaneland against the Hubs with 17 points, followed by Marcel Neil with 13, Thomas Williams with 12 and Dan Miller with 10.

Rochelle went on top early with an 18-15 edge after one quarter, and increased the lead to 32-27 at halftime, before staking out a 43-37 lead after three.

With a 23-13 in the fourth, KHS emerged victorious.

The Knights were also helped by the foul line advantage, going 14-for-17 from the charity stripe. Rochelle was just 1-for-3.

At the home of the Maple Leafs, Kaneland once again found balanced scoring in the form of Tyler Heinle’s 13, Matt Limbrunner’s 10 and David’s 10.

Kaneland also benefited from five three-pointers—three from Heinle and two from David.

KHS went out to a 15-12 lead, and stifled the Maple Leafs on the way to a 27-19 lead at the break.

In the third, Kaneland extended its lead to 42-27 before Geneseo closed the gap somewhat.

“We are lucky to have a really balanced scoring attack,” KHS coach Brian Johnson said. “Not a single player on the team feels as if they need to ‘get theirs’ when it comes to scoring. Our players are very unselfish and truly put the team first. They have a knack of getting the ball to the hot hand and to the right person during those late-game situations.”

Underclass action this week featured Kaneland sophomores beating Geneseo 57-34 and Rochelle 73-53.

Kaneland freshman fell to Morris 39-26 in the “A” tussle and 38-34 in the “B” game.

The next varsity task is Sycamore coming to town on Saturday, Feb. 4.

Kaneland rebounds from loss in Yorkville with win at Burlington

Photo: Matt Limbrunner (42) put up 10 points in the tough loss to Yorkville on Friday. Photo by Ben Draper

KANELAND—For now, the scales of the Kaneland-Burlington Central boys basketball rivalry tipped toward Kaneland.

KHS took care of the host Rockets on Saturday evening by a final of 65-46, serving as a nice contrast from the 56-51 loss to conference foe Yorkville on Friday evening.

The Knights now sit at 10-5 (3-1 Northern Illinois Big XII).

Facing the Rockets, the Knights were treated to 18 points from Marcel Neil, Drew David (15 points) and 12 from Matt Limbrunner.

Also helping the cause was a stellar 14-of-15 night from the foul line.

Despite being down 11-10 after one, Kaneland rallied to take a 30-25 lead at the halftime break.

KHS was ahead in the matter by a 44-34 margin before outgunning the Rockets 21-12 in the fourth quarter.

The Foxes sprinted out to a 25-7 lead after one quarter on Friday, but saw KHS compress the deficit to 37-28. Kaneland trailed 50-41 going into the final quarter.

The Knights were paced by 14 points from Tyler Heinle and 10 from Limbrunner and Thomas Williams.

In earlier action, the sophomores took care of their Yorkville rivals by a 43-41 score. The freshman “A” squad lost 39-28 to the Foxes, while the “B” team lost 45-29.

The Knights try to power their way through the season’s second half with a trip to Morris on Friday, Jan. 13.

The Knights have already taken two previous meetings with the Redskins, including two weeks ago at the Plano Christmas Classic.

KHS finishes 3rd at Plano Christmas Classic

Photo: Marcel Neil (23) holds his own block party in the initial Plano Christmas Classic matchup against Morris last week, with teammate Thomas Williams (24) close by. For his efforts in the four games, Neil was named to the All-Tournament team for the third-place Knights. File Photo

PLANO, Ill.—If you want to improve yourself as the year ends to give yourself hope in the new year, Kaneland boys’ basketball had the right idea.

The Knights improved on last year’s sixth-place finish at the Plano Christmas Classic by finishing in third place, including a win over last year’s Classic champ.

When the final buzzer sounded on 2011 play, the Knights went 3-1 in the tourney. After a Dec. 27 win over Morris, the Knights beat Streator 53-47 on Dec. 28, lost to Yorkille 61-50, and edged 2010 champ Rockford Christian 45-41, with a late rally to cinch up a record of 9-4 (3-0 Northern Illinois Big XII).

Against conference crossover rival Streator, the Knights saw 16 points from Drew David, 12 from Marcel Neil and 11 from Tyler Heinle in the win. Additionally, the Knights were also beneficiaries of 31 trips to the line, of which the KHS crew had 21 conversions.

KHS had a 17-14 lead after one quarter and led 30-20 at the half. Streator closed to within 41-36 at the end of three before the Knights held firm.

Against the Foxes, Neil’s 14 points were tops, along with Thomas Williams’ 11 points.

Yorkville led 14-13 after one, but KHS rallied for a 27-25 halftime lead. The Foxes then took charge with a third quarter that ended with KHS down 42-36 before the final frame.

In the finale against the Royal Lions, the Knights were paced by Dan Miller’s 13 points and Williams’ 10.

KHS led 11-10 before falling behind 23-18 at the half. The Knights still trailed 33-29 after three before a 16-8 run closed the game in Kaneland’s favor.

With the holiday tournaments out of the way, the Knights prepare for Yorkville once again, in Kendall County on Friday, Jan. 6.

Top finishes at the Plano Christmas Classic
Championship:
Belvidere 61,
Yorkville 51

Third-place:
Kaneland 45,
Rockford Christian 41

Fifth-place:
Aurora Ch. 75,
Ottawa 45

Seventh-place:
Streator 59,
H-BR 55

Re-gifting: Kaneland manages win over Morris in Plano tourney

Photo: Tyler Heinle (32) contemplates his next move for the third-seeded Knights during Monday’s 50-44 win over the Morris Redskins at the Plano Christmas Classic. Heinle scored 12 points against the Redskins. Photo by Patti Wilk

by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—A team always likes to make a statement in its opening contest. Preferably, it’d be a positive statement.

At Kaneland High School’s boys basketball opener of the 49th annual Plano Christmas Classic, the Knights not only made a positive statement, but also earned their second straight victory over rival Morris on Tuesday by a 50-44 margin.

Kaneland, the third-seed, was due to play the Streator Bulldogs on Wednesday after Streator beat Burlington Central.

KHS was paced by Marcel Neil’s 13 points and Tyler Heinle’s 12.

The perimeter game was kind to Kaneland, with the first-half featuring a reliance on the bombs. The Knights had seven three-pointers on the day.

In the first quarter, Kaneland fell behind 13-12, but saw trifectas from Thomas Williams, Neil, Dan Miller and Heinle in the frame.

Yet another three by Williams gave KHS a 21-19 advantage with 2:34 left in the half.

After a foul shot by Neil and an ensuing basket, Kaneland led 24-19 with 47.1 left before Morris converted a three-point play to make it 24-22.

Kaneland saw its lead grow to as much as nine points in the third, thanks to a pair of foul shots by Heinle with 1:56 left. Drew David’s foul shot made it 36-30 before the buzzer sounded.

Morris got to within 38-36 with 4:35 to go, but a Matt Limbrunner baseline jumper with 4:13 remaining got the margin back to four. A David three and Limbrunner basket got the margin back to 45-39 with 1:38 to go. Heinle made five foul shots down the stretch to secure the win.

“Down the long run, this will make us better,” Heinle said. “They’re on video, we have their plays and know what their guards and big men do.”

KHS coach Brian Johnson was pleased at how the Knights recovered through some first-half troubles.

“I thought we made nice adjustments in the second half, and Limbrunner had some nice shots. He’s a good shooter and allowed us to open up the game a little bit,” Johnson said.

Kaneland’s goal of winning its second Plano Christmas Classic in three years is still intact, with the tournament ending on Friday, Dec. 30. Out of the 24 teams, nine are new entries: Aurora Christian, Belvidere, Burlington Central, Dixon, Indian Creek, Lisle, Indian Creek, Ottawa, Streator and Wilmington.

Knights take care of conference business

Photo: It’s not football season, but Drew David (11) makes a dive for a loose ball in the first quarter during Friday night’s 58-46 conference win over rival DeKalb. The win propelled the Knights to 6-3. Photo by Patti Wilk

Neil helps KHS boys defend turf vs. DeKalb
by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—With DeKalb coming in to Maple Park on Friday evening, Kaneland boys basketball would need players with a sense of the big stage.

That designation happened to belong to Marcel Neil on Friday, which segued to a winning effort, and also means encouraging things for Kaneland’s fortunes entering 2012.

With 28 points, Kaneland’s Neil helped Kaneland to a 58-46 win and to a 6-3 record (3-0 Northern Illinois Big XII).

Neil’s big night was a result of his smooth transition from the West Aurora program.

“It’s awesome, I love it here,” Neil said. “Everybody’s friendly and it was so easy to get into the flow of things.”

With DeKalb coming in, Neil found it was easy to do what he was best at.

“I was getting a lot of open shots, backdoor cuts and ball screens, and it was a lot easier because of my teammates,” Neil said.

The Knights burst out to a 24-12 lead on DeKalb (2-6) after one quarter of action, and saw the lead hold firm at 34-19 for the locker room trip.

DeKalb’s game solidified as they hit six of eight shot attempts, and seven of 10 in the third quarter.

Neil hit two baskets, including one down low, and Tyler Heinle jacked a three-pointer, but DeKalb closed the deficit to 41-34 before the end of the third frame.

With four consecutive successful shots, the Barbs tightened the deficit to 46-42 with 3:42 remaining. KHS rallied by getting buckets by Neil and Thomas Williams (10 points) to make it 50-42 with 2:16 remaining.

DeKalb could only manage a free throw and a three-point play for the remainder of the clash, while Heinle, Williams and Neil were flawless in eight foul shot attempts to close the game.

“It’s a conference rival, and they were going to make a comeback,” KHS coach Brian Johnson said. “It was going to be one of those dogfight games. DeKalb fights real hard.”

KHS also dealt with the absence of Trever Heinle, who went down with an injury after a lay-up attempt in the second quarter. Heinle is expected to return shortly to game action for the Knights.

Meanwhile, in sophomore action, DeKalb beat Kaneland 52-50 despite 12 points from Connor Fedderly.

KHS enjoys the holiday weekend before heading off to the Plano Christmas Classic, edition 49, beginning on Tuesday, Dec. 27.

This will be the third straight trip for the boys, who look to get to championship heights like they did in 2009.

Kaneland is scheduled to face either Morris or Sandwich on Tuesday, Dec. 27, at 10:30 a.m.

The top five seeds for the upcoming Plano Christmas Classic are:
1. Rockford Christian
2. Yorkville
3. Kaneland
4. Aurora Christian
5. Belvidere

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.

Boys split against current, former conference mates

Photo: Thomas Williams (24) caters to his own southpaw strengths on a trip to the basket during Friday’s NIB-12 win over the visiting Morris Redskins. Photo by John DiDonna

by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—Beginning 1-0 in conference play doesn’t just sound better—it is better.

With every meeting in the second-year Northern Illinois Big XII conference a premium, every win over evenly-matched opponents will fit nicely in the back pocket of Kaneland boys basketball.

Such was the case on Friday evening at Kaneland High School, with the Knight crew leading wire-to-wire in a 56-46 win over the visiting Morris Redskins.

The Knights fell back to earth against former Suburban Prairie Conference and Western Sun Conference-mate Glenbard South, 42-37 on Tuesday in Maple Park.

The Knights are now 3-3, and 1-0 in conference play.

KHS was buoyed by Marcel Neil’s 21 points and Trever Heinle’s 18 points against the Redskins. The Knights also sunk five three-pointers, including three from Neil. Also helpful was the 17-of-23 effort from the free throw line.

“They’re a tough team,” KHS coach Brian Johnson said. “We were maybe hoping to run a little bit more than tonight, but Morris did a good job of handling our press. We don’t have anybody that matches up to their size, but we fought hard.”

Neil offered up a field goal, plus two threes, and the Knights led 13-5 after one frame.

Despite going scoreless for over five minutes of action, Kaneland still managed to hold the lead, and Neil’s fifth straight bucket made the score 18-7 with 4:10 to go in the second.

A three-point play for Morris closed within 18-15 with 2:25 remaining, but a left-handed lay-in by Thomas Williams (nine points) and a foul shot by Dan Miller extended the lead before the teams entered halftime with KHS up 21-16.

Kaneland continued to hold firm and led 37-32 after three, thanks to key baskets by Heinle and Neil.

WIth Morris’ interior pressure stifling efforts to go to the basket, the Knights saw their advantage dip to 39-35 with 5:49 to go.

The home squad found a way to get to the line, however, with Heinle and Drew David making good from the charity stripe in the final frame.

Williams, whose bucket gave Kaneland a 43-37 lead with 3:48 to go, felt good about the effort that led to victory.

“It feels real good,” Williams said. “Just to know you can overcome the defense and being tough, and still score and come out with the win is good.”

Against the visiting Raiders, Heinle was the only Knight to reach double figures with 11 points.

Kaneland and Glenbard South were tied at eight apiece after one, and the Raiders had a slim 17-16 advantage at the break before Kaneland’s 15-5 run in the third had KHS ahead 31-22.

Then, Glenbard South turned it on the fourth, and turned the Knights off, outscoring Kaneland 20-6 in the fourth quarter.

Ahead for Kaneland is a Saturday, Dec. 10, meeting at the home of the Spartans in Sycamore, while Hinckley-Big Rock High School is the site of a Tuesday, Dec. 13, meeting.

Sophomoric!
For a glimpse at some of the future Knights, just turn to the Adam Wickness-coached sophomores.

This week, John Pruett’s 27 points were key in the 55-49 win over the Redskins.
Meanwhile, on Tuesday, Connor Fedderly’s 21 and Pruett’s 18 helped KHS
enjoy a 61-47 result vs. the GS Raiders.

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.

Semifinal sting: Montini edges KHS, 35-31

Photo: Receiver Sean Carter hauls in a pass during Saturday night’s Class 5A
playoff semifinal battle with defending champion Montini. Photo by John DiDonna

by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—Sequels can be more entertaining and gripping than the original, but for Kaneland football and its fans, the ending to this particular drama was still hard to take.

Jordan Westerkamp’s touchdown catch with 2 minutes, three seconds remaining in the game was the final blow in a 35-31 loss to Montini Catholic on Saturday night, ending the Knights’ quest for Class 5A State glory at 12-1.

Kaneland held the lead for nearly 25 minutes going from the second quarter to late in the fourth, but as it stood, Montini tries for its third straight title against the Hilltoppers of Joliet Catholic on Saturday, Nov. 26, at the University of Illinois.

Kaneland still has won 24 of 26 contests, and hasn’t lost in the regular season since Week eight of 2009.

Montini outgained Kaneland by a 407-366 yard margin, but it was more of the toe-to-toe fight Knight faithful were looking for after last year’s 27-14 setback in the semifinal to the Broncos.

“Our kids played their hearts out,” KHS coach Tom Fedderly said. “I’m so proud of our team, they came out and didn’t back down.”

Montini’s John Rhode was 20-for-35 for 230 yards with one touchdown and an interception. Counterpart Drew David was 16-for-31 for 165 yards and a touchdown.

Bronco Joseph Borsellino was the leading receiver with 123 yards on nine catches. Knight Jesse Balluff was the leading target out of the backfield with 69 yards. Balluff added a prolific 143 yards rushing, a game high. Bronco Dimitri Taylor had 111 of his own.

Montini got on the board first with a one-yard run out of the wildcat formation from Borsellino with 1:13 left in the opening frame for a 7-0 lead. Balluff tied matters soon after with an 81-yard scoring scamper down the sideline just 23 ticks later, and Taylor came back 36 seconds after that with a 48-yard TD run for a 14-7 deficit.

The second quarter belonged to KHS, thanks to a Balluff TD run from 18 yards away with 7:51 to go and a tie-breaking 26-yard field goal from Matt Rodriguez with 3:14 left, and the Knights went into the locker room up 17-14.

In the second half, things improved for KHS when Zach Martinelli made an acrobatic touchdown catch from 18 yards away, giving Kaneland a 24-14 lead with 9:01 to go in the third. Borsellino scored again from two yards out with 5:53 to go to close within 24-21. David’s four-yard plunge with 1:38 to go in the third marked the last Knight score of the season, and a 31-21 lead.

Zach Martinelli has made his share of integral catches. It was time for No. 11 to make an exceptional catch. Shifting his body to get the edge on Bronco defenders, Martinelli grabbed the ball in mid air and fell to the end zone with 9:01 to go in the third quarter, giving the Knights a 24-14 lead

With 12 minutes to go before the Knights conceivably could start their Champaign journey, the Broncos’ Taylor completed the ensuing drive after David’s TD with a 31-yard scoring run just 30 seconds into the quarter, making it 31-28.

In crunch-time, Montini’s drive stalled at the Knight 46, leading to a punt. The Knights, however, went three-and-out, giving the ball back to the Broncos. Montini went 52 yards, ending with Westerkamp’s 19-yard paydirt play.

KHS then stalled at its own 47, on an incompletion to Sean Carter.

“We wanted to be close and have it come down to the fourth quarter, and it didn’t happen tonight,” Fedderly said.

The Knights, who still had a season to remember, have now lost their last three State semifinal games. Their 2006 nemesis, Marian Central Catholic of Woodstock, lost in this year’s quarterfinal to Montini.

Knight boys hoops hope to repeat NIB-12 glory

Photo: Trever Heinle looks to give KHS a lift at guard. File Photo

“Kids know what the expectations are,” says Johnson
by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—In KHS coach Brian Johnson’s first year, he had the pleasure of Dave Dudzinski in the post.

His second year featured the first conference title for Knight hoops since the Reagan years.

What wrinkle shows itself in the 2011-12 campaign?

“I think its the group that’s been with us now three years,” Johnson said. “Practices go a lot smoother. There’s not as much downtime. Kids know what the expectations are.

Those that are counted on to take up the slack with departure of personnel like Chaon Denlinger, Zach Ringhouse, Tyler Callaghan and Daniel Helm will be returnees like guards Trever Heinle, Drew David, Tyler Heinle as well as senior forward Bryan Van Bogaert.

“Nothing’s a surprise to these kids and they are ready to help,” Johnson said. Tyler made a name for himself in the Rochelle game last year and Trever has put so much time into being a better player.

New varsity additions that are counted on to make an impact for Knight hoops are senior transfer Marcel Neil, formerly of West Aurora, at guard, and junior guard Dan Miller.

“The new guys on varsity this year have already improved in a short time,” Johnson said.

New varsity additions also include sophomore Tyler Carlson, sophomore John Pruett, junior Clay Denlinger, guard Thomas Williams, junior Noel Delgado and junior Matt Limbrunner.

Johnson takes pride in the team’s court awareness.

“Losing guys from last year like we had isn’t good for any program, but the kids have resilience and want to continue to get better,” Johnson said.

The Knights begin their quest to improve their 17-9 mark and conference title from a year ago beginning with the Windmill Classic in Batavia on Wednesday, Nov. 23.

Road warriors: Knights (12-0) take 20-14 quarterfinal at Hubs’ home

Photo: Quinn Buschbacher (22) has the upper hand as he reels in a pivotal catch during the Knights’ 20-14 win in the Class 5A quarterfinals on Saturday. The 27-yard grab led to his TD run two plays later, giving the Knights a 14-7 lead going into halftime. Photo by Ben Draper

Montini Catholic provides second straight semi challenge
by Mike Slodki
ROCHELLE—Kaneland football has dealt with Northern Illinois Big XII rival Rochelle quite successfully in recent years.

But, they hadn’t dealt with a Hubs squad like this.

With two playoff wins each under their belts, the Knights and Hubs met in Ogle County on Saturday, and much like the previous two KHS wins, it wasn’t decided until very late.

But a fourth quarter touchdown run by Jesse Balluff, coupled with two defensive stands, led to a 20-14 quarterfinal victory.

“I’m glad those kids were able to step up and win the game for us at the end,” KHS coach Tom Fedderly said. “People were doubting the defense a little bit, and I couldn’t be happier or prouder.”

The Knights improve to 12-0 and make the Class 5A State semifinal round for the second straight year, as well as the third in the last six tries.

The Hubs finished at 8-4, but it was a different team than the one Kaneland defeated 35-14, in the fifth game.

Despite having won four meetings in a row, Kaneland was dealing with a Rochelle unit gaining confidence with each playoff win, most recently last week against the Sycamore Spartans.

“Watching them on film, those guys greatly improved, and they were really playing well at the end of the year,” Fedderly said.

Even though Rochelle had a 281-272 edge in total yards, the Knights were helped by Balluff’s 70 yard rushing total, and QB Drew David added 65 yards of his own.

Quinn Buschbacher had 76 yards on four catches.

The threatening rush of Rochelle was led by Marquez Felix with 117 yards on 12 carries, while Will Metzger had 82 yards on 16 carries.
After a first quarter with no scoring, Rochelle drew first blood with a one-yard plunge by Felix with 10 minutes, 30 seconds remaining in the second quarter for a 7-0 lead.

With Kaneland looking to answer, David ended an eight-play, 57-yard drive with an 18-yard touchdown scamper with 6:42 to go for a 7-7 tie.

“I think I did OK when I had to take the ball and run,” David said. “Other times, I wish I made a different decision. For the most part, as long as we come out with a ‘W,’ it’s fine.”

After Rochelle punted, KHS capitalized with a six-play drive that ended with Buschbacher’s four-yard TD run with 2:02 remaining in the half for a 14-7 lead. The drive was set into high gear after the senior’s 27-yard, one-handed catch.

Felix tied the score on a 58-yard TD run with 9:04 to go in the third quarter for a 14-14 tie.

KHS started the go-ahead drive in the third quarter, but continued in the fourth. Balluff’s number was called three straight times, and went for a 33-yard scoring scamper with 9:53 to go.

“It seemed like (Rochelle) was a lot more physical this time,” Balluff said. “They’re a great team, and I’m afraid every year to play these guys.”

The extra point was blocked, setting a tense 20-14 lead.

Rochelle put together a drive from its own 20 with solid running. Then, on the 13th play of the drive; a fourth-and-one from the Knight 19, Rochelle signal-caller Nick Moore rolled left but was stopped before the first-down marker.
	After allowing 115 points in the last 14 quarters, the Knight defense needed to have a big stop in them at Saturday’s Class 5A quarterfinal. 	It was a successful stop, by a couple of chain-links. Hubs QB Nick Moore rolled left on a fourth-and-one from the Kaneland 19, but was stopped by a swarm of tacklers with 2:02 remaining. It was the last time Rochelle would get that deep on the field.
KHS took over with 2:02 remaining, but had to punt four plays later. Rochelle took over at its own 34. Sean Carter nabbed an important sack on a first down from midfield. With the clock running and the Hubs’ out of timeouts, Moore had to air out a pass that sailed over the players’ heads with four ticks left.

The Knights’ semifinal test, Montini Catholic, has lost twice this season, but comes off a 52-27 win over Woodstock’s Marian Central Catholic, ironically, the squad that eliminated Kaneland in the State semis in 2006.

Rally Round the Knights
Kaneland High School has scheduled a pep rally for the football team before the State semifinal, for Saturday, Nov. 19, at 3:30 p.m. in the East Gym.
Doors open at 3:15 p.m.

Kaneland-Montini II
The Knights and Broncos face each other once again, with a State championship berth on the line.
A year ago, the Broncos ended the Knights’ playoff hopes by a 27-14 final.
Montini has earned state trophies in 2004, 2009 & 2010

How ‘Drew’ doin?
Sophomore QB Drew David becomes the third QB in recent memory to throw for a State semifinal team, following Joe Camiliere and Boone Thorgesen.
Through the first three playoff games in 2011, Drew is 42-for-79 for 727 yards, 5 TD, 3 INT

Just barely

Photo: Jacob Razo (8) and Ryan Lawrence (29) bring down a St. Francis runner in the second quarter. Kaneland came away with a 31-28 victory on Saturday. Photo by John DiDonna

Late TD waved off, 11-0 Knights beat St. Francis, 31-28
by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—There exists a song by Ringo Starr entitled “It Don’t Come Easy.”

While Starr was part of a group that forever changed the face of music, the Liverpool lad never laced up the cleats the last three weeks.

For the third week in a row, the Knights saw a double-digit lead shrink. Once again, the fate of the game came down to the final drive, this time against St. Francis of Wheaton.

Falling behind 7-0 early, Kaneland put up 31 unanswered points by the end of the second quarter.

St. Francis got two long touchdown runs in the third quarter and a touchdown pass in the fourth to cut it to 31-28.

St. Francis’ Jeff Rutkowski caught a 40-yard touchdown pass with no time left sending the Spartan faithful into a frenzy, but a flag for illegal participation was thrown, negating the touchdown.

With one untimed down left to be played from midfield, Rutkowski caught the ball again, but was tackled at the five-yard line.

“Unbelievable, what a great comeback by them,” KHS coach Tom Fedderly said. “A lot of credit to them. That was a great team we played, and we’re just happy to move on.”

Now, Kaneland makes it to the State quarterfinals in Class 5A for the second consecutive year, and has to travel to Rochelle for a Northern Illinois Big XII conference rematch.

KHS got the best of Rochelle 35-14 on Oct. 2.

Kaneland (11-0) won despite having been beaten in the total yards category, 507-441. St. Francis (8-3) also had a seven minute, 44 second edge in time of possession.

Knight quarterback Drew David was 21-for-40 for 353 yards, with four touchdown throws and two interceptions.

Spartan counterpart Nick Donati was 8-for-16 for 126 yards with 1 TD and two picks, but rattled off scoring runs of 51 and 70 yards in the third quarter.

Jesse Balluff of KHS had 92 yards on 14 carries, but also had 177 yards on eight catches for two touchdowns.

“Jesse is a big-time player for us. He just loves football, and has been getting better for us all season long,” Fedderly said.

Spartan Jack Petrando had his way on the ground, rushing for 155 yards on 17 carries for a score, and Donati amassed 115 yards on the ground.

James Ferguson of St. Francis had 73 yards receiving and a scoring grab.

Just 67 seconds elapsed in the game when Petrando took the ball on the third play from scrimmage and ran 46 yards for a score and a 7-0 lead.

KHS came back and executed a 10-play, 40-yard drive that ended on a 42-yard kick by Matt Rodriguez, making it 7-3 with 5:49 to go in the first.

The Spartans’ next drive ended on a field goal miss from 33 yards away, and the Knights capitalized two plays later when Balluff caught a ball near the sidelines over defenders and raced 77 yards for the touchdown and a 10-7 lead 17 ticks into the second quarter.

Kaneland then went on an absolute roll, scoring on its next three drives, as well.

After Jacob Razo recovered a fumble, Quinn Buschbacher caught a 15-yard scoring pass with 3:37 remaining to go up 17-7.

Balluff caught a 39-yard touchdown pass with 1:30 left that unfolded after the work of KHS blockers on a screen, and the Knights were ahead 24-7.

Gary Koehring has emerged as a mainstay for the Knights’ defense. On Saturday evening, he emerged with a pivotal athletic play. When Spartan QB Nick Donati was looking to turn a play into another big gain deep in KHS territory in the early stages of the fourth, defensive pressure hit Donati while Koehring plucked the ball out of the air with 10:57 left in the game.

After a Razo interception, the Knights converted with a 5-yard scoring strike to Buschbacher with :24 remaining, making the lead 31-7 by halftime.

The second half ended up rougher for KHS, ending drives on interceptions, a punt and a missed field goal.

Donati’s 51-yard score came with 8:17 to go in the third, and his 70-yarder came with 4:46 to go, making it 31-21 by the end of the third.

St. Francis closed to within 31-28 on an 11-yard pass to Ferguson with 7:48 to go.

Later, Rodriguez’ 38-yard field goal try was no good with 3:32 to go, setting in motion the final sequence of the game.

The Knights’ second meeting of the year with the rival Hubs takes place on Saturday, Nov. 12, at 1 p.m. in Ogle County. No. 13 Rochelle has gotten past Chicago’s Urban Prep Charter, 43-41, and Sycamore 21-16.

The winner of the game faces either Montini Catholic or Marian Central Catholic in the State semifinal game next week.

The key call
Illegal participation:
When an offensive player goes out of bounds (unless blocked out), returns during the play
and is the first one to touch the ball. football.refs.org

Seems like old times
• Kaneland has captured the last four meetings against the Hubs, last losing in 2007.

• KHS and Rochelle have met in the playoffs twice in recent years, with Rochelle winning 27-7 in 2004, and 42-7 in 2003.

• Sean Carter and Quinn Buschbacher had two TD’s each in the Sept. 23 victory.

Knights emerge with 51-45 victory in round one

Photo: Ryan Fuchs (10) makes a key 28-yard catch in the fourth quarter of Friday’s 51-45 slugfest in round one of the Class 5A playoffs. The senior’s grab was his only catch of the game, but continued a drive that ended on a Zack Martinelli touchdown catch. Photo by John DiDonna

KHS has date with St. Francis Spartans in second round
by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—On the surface, it wouldn’t seem like a Class 5A No. 16 seed like the Belvidere Bucs would make any kind of a splash in the first-round matchup with the Knights football roster on Friday.

It turned out that it wasn’t until very late in the fourth quarter that Kaneland was able to throw the NIC-10 school out of the playoff pool.

Belvidere (5-5) outgained Kaneland in total yards by a 557-478 count, and had a chance to take the lead late in the fourth, until Knight Kory Harner leapt up and beat his Buc counterpart to the pass, securing a 51-45 win.

“I think that was Kory’s first interception,” KHS coach Tom Fedderly said. “He picked a great time to do it. We just tell the kids to keep playing. They got some things on us, and our kids just kept playing and we made a play at the end.”

Kaneland (10-0) hosts the No. 8 seed St. Francis of Wheaton, who eliminated Burlington Central on Saturday by a final of 27-10.

For Kaneland, this brings coach Fedderly’s postseason mark to 4-3 since taking over the reigns in 2007.

A year ago, Kaneland began its playoff quest with a running clock, 42-0 win over Chicago’s King High School.

The leading rusher for the contest was Buc talent Marcus Gooden, who rushed for 174 yards and two touchdowns on 13 carries. Belvidere had four rushing scores on the night.

However, Kaneland went to a balanced rushing attack that shared the wealth and yielded good things when needed most.

Quinn Buschbacher had 80 yards and two rushing scores, followed by Jesse Balluff with 78 yards and three touchdowns, and quarterback Drew David had 69 yards on 10 tries.

“I think our pass and our running game really complement each other,” David said. “We can’t always rely on the pass to win us games, and we can’t always rely on the run to win us games. Today, we decided we were going to pound it.”

Belvidere QB Troy Vandenbroek was 15-for-25 for 278 yards, with two touchdowns and one pick. David was 13-for-21 for 251 yards, one touchdown and one interception.

Sean Carter of KHS had 134 yards receiving on four catches.

KHS scored first on a 43-yard TD run by Buschbacher just 1 minute, 54 seconds into the game, and scored again on a David one-yard sneak with 3:53 left in the frame, with the extra-point attempt botched making it 13-0.

The Bucs stormed back on the first play of the next drive thanks to an 80-yard scamper by Gooden. Gooden gave Belvidere the lead on a three-yard TD run with :17 to go for a 14-13 lead.

Down 17-13, Kaneland went to the rush again and had Balluff score on two one-yard carries within 3:15 of each other, taking a 27-17 lead in the second. Vandenbroek closed the first-half scoring with a nine-yard run with :24 left to close within 27-24.

In the third quarter, David found Zack Martinelli for a 14-yard strike with 9:32 to go for a 34-24 lead. With 1:12 to go in the frame, Buschbacher scored from four yards out to go up 41-24.

Kaneland players and fans alike had to withstand a feisty fourth quarter as Belvidere didn’t go away.

Reed Greiter caught a 17-yard TD pass with 10:01 to go to close within 41-31. After getting the ball back on a pick, Vandenbroek ran for a 40-yard score on the next play to make it 41-38 with 9:46 to go.

Buschbacher then took the ensuing kickoff 94 yards down to the one, where Balluff plunged in for a 48-38 lead with 9:26 to go.

Kyle Harris caught a 38-yard TD pass to close within 48-45 with 8:15 to go. Jake Razo recovered the onside kick attempt, and Matt Rodriguez kicked a 40-yard field goal to set things at 51-45 with 5:19 to go.

Belvidere drove into KHS territory, and on a 2nd-and-20 from the Knight 33, Harner came up with the crucial pick, leading to Kaneland running out the clock.

Kory Harner (43) was part of a defense that had given up 73 points in its last six quarters of football. Notwithstanding, the Knights defense still needed to make a big play, and Harner came through. Harner’s first interception of the year stopped a Belvidere drive on Friday that had advanced to the Kaneland 33-yard line. The Knights ran out the clock, and now prepare for St. Francis this Saturday, Nov. 5, in Maple Park.

The next challenge for the Knights, on Saturday, Nov. 5, takes place at 7 p.m.

The winner of the Knight-Spartan contest faces either Sycamore or Rochelle the following week.

The road ahead
The 4 remaining Northern Illinois Big XII teams went 2-2 in the first round of the Class 5A playoffs.

Kaneland 51 vs. Belvidere 45

Morris 35 vs. Morton 24

Sycamore 36 vs. King 29

Rochelle 43 vs. Urban Prep 41

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.