That was sweat and mist from Friday night’s drizzle glazing Kaneland quarterback Joe Camiliere’s face as he lamented the swan song of the Batavia-Kaneland rivalry.
The Bulldogs made him run and romp through the mud, though their defection with the rest of the Western Sun Conference after this season didn’t quite prompt tears.
“It’s always fun, competitive and it’s great to always play them,” Camiliere said after his Knights beat the Bulldogs, 21-17, “but this is the last one.”
Batavia and Kaneland have shared league ties dating to the days of the now-defunct Little Seven Conference, but that will change beginning next fall. Collective unrest among WSC schools with smaller enrollments climaxed during the spring, leading to an announced split from bigger schools Batavia, Geneva and Glenbard South after this season.
“Unfortunately, we couldn’t control that,” Bulldogs coach Mike Gaspari said. “I still don’t understand it, particularly as competitive as the league is this year. Look at scores up and down.”
Aside from Kaneland, still unbeaten in WSC play, Yorkville led for a time before staying within 11 points of Geneva one year after losing by 35. Sycamore trimmed the margin of defeat against the defending IHSA Class 7A runner-up Vikings from 24 to eight points. Then there’s DeKalb. Regarded by many last week as mushy homecoming fodder, the Barbs nearly upset Glenbard South, falling short, 21-14.
They’ll get the chance to dampen Geneva’s own festivities this week.
“It’s hard to fathom why this [split] has happened,” Gaspari said, “but it has, and we’re fortunate to have a place to go.”
Batavia and Geneva will join the Upstate Eight Conference while Kaneland and fellow WSC alums DeKalb, Rochelle, Sycamore and Yorkville help form the new Northern Illinois Big 12. Gaspari, who also serves as Batavia athletic director, says he hasn’t had much time to think about future non-conference schedules but called booking Kaneland “pretty unlikely” at the start.
Talking after Kaneland’s come-from-behind victory against the Bulldogs on Friday night, Knights coach Tom Fedderly seemed willing to listen once the schools grew more stable in new leagues.
“It’s a big rivalry, and we’ve got a lot of respect for Batavia,” Fedderly said. “It’s always a great game and there’s always a great atmosphere here, and we just wish them luck.”
This week’s Sports Illustrated highlights St. Francis girls volleyball coach Peg Kopec as one of its “Faces In the Crowd,” recognizing her recent achievement as the first coach in IHSA history to win 1,000 games in a single sport. Kopec collected career victory No. 1,000 in St. Francis’ 25-19, 25-22 road sweep of Chicago Christian on Sept. 9. She joins 21-year-old Maple Park native Kassandra Barteau as the second Chronicle-area Face in the Crowd to grace SI this month. Barteau, an equestrian show rider, appeared in the Sept. 7 issue after winning the gold medal in freestyle dressage at the North American Junior and Young Rider Championships. She also claimed the U.S. Equestrian Federation National Young Rider Championship this summer, winning the event for the third straight year.
• Kevin Druley is a sportswriter for The Chronicle. He can be reached at 630-845-5347 or email@example.com.