Batavia defensive coordinator Matt Holm’s impression of Lake Zurich on film is quite clear.
Lake Zurich exhibits a clean, concise brand of football.
The Bulldogs (9-3) travel to Lake Zurich for the Class 7A state semifinal on Saturday. The Bears (11-1) have not lost since a week two 21-10 decision against St. Charles North.
“They’re just very solid,” Holm said. “They’re clean. They don’t make a lot of mistakes. They don’t lose yardage [and] get sacked very little. Running backs don’t try and bounce stuff [outside] and then take losses.”
[Bears quarterback Ashton Gondeck] makes good decisions and obviously has good legs, so he can turn a play [if he needs to improvise]. Just very solid,” Holm continued. “They got a couple of dynamic players, but for the most part, they don’t make mistakes, they take advantage of field position. We just have to be as clean as we can possibly be to match that.”
Batavia does have recent playoff history against the Bears, including a 37-0 win in the first round of the postseason last year. The Bulldogs also defeated them in the 7A state title game in 2017.
“[Watching last year’s game film will be] helpful in seeing what they thought they wanted to do or were successful at doing against our defense,” Holm said. “...It’s useful to watch them against Wheaton North and it’s useful to watch them against other teams.”
The winner will advance to Champaign to face the winner of Mt. Carmel or St. Rita the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Batavia, of course, lost to Mt. Carmel in emotional fashion in overtime in last year’s second round.
French, St. Francis preparing for test vs. Providence
Danny French brought the thunder against Rochelle.
French, a St. Francis senior outside linebacker, had 3 1/2 sacks and three quarterback pressures in the Spartans’ 35-16 win over the Hubs in the Class 4A quarterfinal last week.
“Our defensive coordinator had a great game plan we all believed in,” French said. “Honestly, the key for me is I have a great relationship with the guys in front of me. We know what each other is going to do. I read gaps off the opposite side they pressure. Once I pick my line, there is no looking back and I go full-speed until I get to the quarterback. We truly work together.”
“They do a lot of the dirty work and don’t always the credit they deserve,” French continued. “It’s truly a team game plan. As a team we watch more film than anyone. We all know what’s coming and just react.”
St. Francis (11-1) hosts Providence in Wheaton on Saturday at 2 p.m. Providence rolls in coming off a upset over No. 1 seeded Richmond Burton in the quarterfinal.
The winner will play either Rochester or Sacred Heart-Griffin in Champaign.
“Providence will be our toughest challenge so far,” French said. “They’re very big. They run the ball hard and chippy. They are well coached and execute very clean. I trust our bigs are up for the challenge.”
“Offensively, we can score quickly. We have a Division I [talent] quarterback [Alessio Milivojevic] and a Division I tackle [TJ McMillen]. These are two guys that can change a game. Our line is big, physical and protect very well. Our skill guys are off the charts. We can truly play with anyone. If we win up front, I really like our chances.”