May 19, 2024
Sports - Kane County


Sports - Kane County

Bulldogs’ win ends Saints’ playoff hopes

Batavia quarterback Noel Gaspari gets chased by St. Charles East's Joe Hoscheit during Friday's game.

ST. CHARLES – Batavia installed six new offensive formations before the season, making newcomers and returners from last year’s 2-7 team responsible for 14.

The Bulldogs have yet to unveil each one as the regular season passes its midway point, but the looks St. Charles East saw in Friday’s 28-0 Batavia win worked efficiently enough.

Batavia drove for touchdowns on three consecutive possessions after opening the game with a three-and-out, putting things away early to improve to 3-2 and 2-0 in the Upstate Eight Conference River Division. Perhaps they’re saving the most exotic stuff for archrival Geneva, which visits Batavia next week in a game with major conference title implications.

“We always look forward to that one, definitely,” senior fullback/defensive lineman Alec Lyons said. “But we still knew we were going to be challenged by East. The struggles they’ve been having didn’t matter.”

The Saints’ dreams for a playoff berth evaporated with the loss. East (0-5, 0-3 UEC River) squandered its best chance to score when a Wildcat shotgun snap to Zach Zajicek on a first and goal from the 5 went over the senior’s head late in the fourth quarter.

Instead of throwing the ball away, Zajicek instinctively plowed upfield and tried to get yardage. The play resulted in a loss of 15.

With the season down to “a matter of pride now,” coach Mike Fields will look to seniors such as Zajicek and leading rusher Mike Brown to help lead the team to something salvageable.

“We’re in a tough bind right now,” Fields said. “We’re sitting 0-5 and this isn’t fun. But the reality is, this is still football. Maybe we put too much pressure on these young men, but I still think they’re great kids and good football players and they’re still going to make the most out of the rest of this thing.”

East showed resilience in spurts for most of the night. On the Bulldogs’ first touchdown drive, sophomore Joe Hoscheit sacked Batavia quarterback Noel Gaspari for a loss of 10 yards on the heels of a 27-yard completion to Zach Strittmatter. Still, Batavia recovered soon enough.

Good field position opened the door for the Bulldogs’ next two scores. Batavia took over at midfield early in the second quarter after Zajicek slipped on a direct snap play on 4th and 1. The turnover set up a 26-yard pass from Gaspari to Joe Sortino.

The Saints punted on the ensuing possession, but the kick itself netted negative six yards for the Saints. Punter Kevin Russell fielded a low snap and sent the ball straight up in the air amid a charging rush of Bulldogs.

Players on both sides of the coverage looked around wondering what was happening. Once referees spotted the ball on the East 16, Batavia left no doubt, as Gaspari immediately found David Peskind in the front right corner of the end zone. The 5-foot-8 Peskind adjusted to an underthrown ball as Jerry Fialka leapt to defend the play.

“Unfortunately, I have to say I was pretty lucky there,” Gaspari said. “I thought I was going to get picked off. I didn’t make the greatest throw, but David ended up with a great catch.”

Fialka returned the kickoff 35 yards to the Saints 39 before East stalled with a three-and-out. Another chance to respond passed the Saints by minutes later, when Zajicek was not allowed to return Batavia’s blocked field goal attempt out of the end zone.

Emund Kabba scored on a 32-yard run midway through the third quarter for the final margin, finishing with 65 yards on 12 carries. Brown had a game high 78 yards on 14 carries.

Batavia intercepted Saints quarterback Jake Mazanke twice and completed its second shutout of the season. The Bulldogs blanked Larkin, 41-0, in Week 3.

Batavia 28, St. Charles East 0

FIRST QUARTER B - Lyons 1 run (Clabough kick), 3:18 SECOND QUARTER B - Sortino 26 pass from Gaspari (Clabough kick), 8:13 B - Peskind 16 pass from Gaspari (Clabough kick), 6:01 THIRD QUARTER B - Kabba 32 run (Clabough kick), 6:05

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS RUSHING – Batavia: Kabba 6-65, Lyons 7-48, Fornek 8-30, Wilson 1-1, Gaspari 3-(10). Totals: 24-134. St. Charles East: Brown 14-78, Zajicek 14-27, Bruce 1-2, Mazanke 3-1, Fialka 1-1. Totals: 33-109. PASSING – Batavia: Gaspari 7-16-140-2-0. St. Charles East: Mazanke 11-23-70-0-2, Zajicek 0-1-0-0-1. RECEIVING – Batavia: Peskind 3-53, Strittmatter 1-27, Sortino 1-26, Gardner 1-21, Lyons 1-13. St. Charles East: Russell 2-20, Brown 3-16, Fialka 2-14, Zajicek 3-10, Lanthier 1-10.

Kevin Druley

Kevin Druley for Shaw Local News Network

Kevin Druley is a freelance writer for Shaw Local News Network who covered sports for the Kane County Chronicle from 2008-16