WEST CHICAGO – The Batavia-West Chicago game began with a Batavia fumble recovery on the opening kickoff.
It ended with a Batavia interception on the game’s final pass.
Between the first and last plays, Batavia took the ball away from West Chicago an additional seven times Friday night, ran up a 41-0 shutout on the road and officially rebounded from their Week 1 loss to St. Charles East.
“We had a lot of struggles last week, and I was very proud of the way the kids bounced back,” Batavia coach Mike Gaspari said.
Three of the Bulldogs’ nine takeaways occurred during the Wildcats’ four first-quarter possessions, and Batavia (1-1) capitalized on each, scoring 21 first-quarter points off turnovers. In all, six Batavia takeaways eventually resulted in touchdowns, which accounted for all 41 of their points.
Senior Shane Holl scored Batavia’s only defensive touchdown on a 53-yard interception return to run the score to 14-0 with 4:13 remaining in the first quarter.
“I’ve never seen that many turnovers,” said Holl, who nabbed a second interception in the third quarter and returned it 31 yards before being pushed out just short of the goal line.
“Coaches were on us all week because they know we’re better than what we showed in Week 1,” Holl added. “We’re better than that, and we showed it tonight.”
Three of the turnovers were forced by special teams units, including the opening kickoff.
“We started practicing special teams the very first day of practice,” Gaspari said. “That’s something that we consider the second component in our whole program. Defense is No. 1, special teams are No. 2 and offense is really a distant third to those two. I think that showed tonight.”
With all five scoring drives beginning in West Chicago territory, not much was required of the Batavia offense and, contrary to the Wildcats’ offense, the Bulldogs took care of the ball, aside from a second-quarter fumble at the West Chicago goal line by quarterback Jack Creed. Creed started in place of Week 1 starter Jordan Coffey.
“You put it on the ground 10 times and you turn it over nine, you’re not going to beat anybody. Anybody,” said West Chicago coach John Walters, whose Wildcats fall to 1-1. “We lost to ourselves today.”
Why Batavia won: West Chicago couldn’t hold onto the ball. The Wildcats turned it over nine times and Batavia made them pay with all of their 41 points scored off turnovers.
Turning point: Batavia’s kick coverage set the tone with a forced fumble on the game’s opening kick. The Bulldogs recovered at the Wildcats’ 25 and scored four plays later.
Outstanding player: Batavia linebacker Shane Holl had two interceptions, the first of which went 53 yards for a touchdown to give the Bulldogs a two-possession lead. His second went 31 yards to the goal line to set up the game’s final touchdown at the end of the third quarter.