There are only a handful of public schools that start every season realistically expecting to win a state title.
It takes a special coaching staff, an engaged community, a quality youth football setup and a supportive school administration. Batavia is one of those rare places where it has all come together.
“We’re awfully proud as coaches that we are in the conversation every year,” Bulldogs coach Dennis Piron said. “That’s pretty good for a public school. Kids in the community grow up dreaming of being Bulldogs. We are continually amazed by the quality and the sacrifice and the work ethic.”
The town’s deep commitment to high school football made it more difficult to swallow the way last season ended. Batavia lost at Mount Carmel in the second round of the Class 7A state playoffs on a controversial, untimed down after time expired.
“That’s stuck in our craw,” Piron said. “It was such a strange game and we don’t like to talk about it much because we don’t want to have sour grapes. But yeah.”
The No. 4 Bulldogs might not talk much about the game publicly, but they aren’t shy about how much that bitter ending has motivated them for the upcoming season.
“We were the best team last year and we should have won the state title,” linebacker Jack Sadowsky said. “But we’ve put that behind us and we are going to come back and play damn good football. It comes down to the small things. The best team will be able to win on their worst day.”
Sadowsky, an Iowa State recruit, is joined at linebacker by Wisconsin recruit Tyler Jansey. It’s rare to see a high school football team with two Power Five-bound linebackers.
“We have this trust that we’ve built up playing with each other forever,” Jansey said. “It’s just awesome playing with another linebacker of that caliber. We make each other better and no one has to be the star player that has to make all the plays.”
Jansey and Sadowsky will be the foundation of a solid defense.
Batavia’s offense will have new faces at running back and receiver, but junior Ryan Boe returns at quarterback.
“He’s gained so much confidence and he’s going to be so much better than he was last year,” Jansey said. “He’ll have a breakout year.”
Boe (6-1, 195) is relishing the spotlight that comes with the starting quarterback job in a football crazy town.
Batavia’s Ryan Boe passes the football during practice.
Kirsten Stickney/For the Sun-Times
“Obviously there’s a little bit of pressure but that’s a good feeling,” Boe said. “Being able to come out and see everybody in the stands that supports me and the team and knowing how much they want us to succeed is a special thing.”
Piron raved about Drew Gerke’s improvement at receiver. As usual the Bulldogs have several large pass catchers. Ryan Whitwell and Charlie Whelpy will handle running back duties.
“These are probably the two biggest backs we’ve had together,” Piron said. “Both can run and block so we are pretty excited about that. We like power football.”
Batavia has a rugged schedule that opens with a three-game road trip due to some construction on the football stadium. The home and visiting stands are being enlarged–so even more of the town can fit inside on Friday nights.
“I love road games so I’m not worried about it,” Jansey said. “There’s just nothing better than hearing the crowd growing crazy and then you make a huge play and it is just dead silence. I love that and just the whole routine of going on the bus. It’s like you are a warrior going into battle.”
Aug. 27 vs. Phillips at Gately
Sept. 2 at Lincoln-Way East
Sept. 9 at Wheaton North
Sept. 16 vs. Lake Park
Sept. 23 at Glenbard North
Sept. 30 vs. Wheaton-Warrenville South
Oct. 7 vs. Geneva
Oct. 14 at St. Charles East
Oct. 21 vs. St. Charles North
Source by chicago.suntimes.com