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Unwelcome visitors : Big third quarter keys Bulldogs’ win at Batavia

  • Written by Ken Karrson

A raucous crowd dressed mostly in white greeted Richards when it arrived at Batavia High School Friday night.

The fans’ so-called “whiteout” ultimately proved a washout, however, at least as far as rattling the visitors was concerned.

“I think our kids enjoyed it and thrived on it,” Bulldogs coach Tony Sheehan said. “It’s what high school football is all about.

“We’ve got some guys who I don’t think know [or care] where they are. They’re football players and they love playing in front of people. [The fans] were loud, but a lot of our kids used it positively.”

Richards also made sure the noise got dialed down significantly in the third quarter. That’s when the Bulldogs put some distance between themselves and their namesakes, as they piled up 18 points in relatively rapid fashion.

That opened up a comfortable 31-13 lead for Richards and allowed it to eventually bank a 31-26 victory over Batavia, which had captured 20 consecutive regular-season wins and was part of most preseason top 25s compiled within the Chicagoland area.

“This is probably No. 1 [among regular-season triumphs] since I’ve taken over,” said Sheehan, who is in his sixth season of coaching at his alma mater. “[Batavia is] a quality program that’s well-coached with physical, smart kids. They’re everything we thought they’d be.

Comeback classic: Improbable rally lifts Cougars past Marian in OT

  • Written by Ken Karrson

Photo by Jeff Vorva. St. Xavier University running back Nick Pesek gets his helmet spun around during a game-tying drive against Marian University Saturday night. The Cougars beat the defending NAIA national champs 31-24 in overtime.  Photo by Jeff Vorva. St. Xavier University running back Nick Pesek gets his helmet spun around during a game-tying drive against Marian University Saturday night. The Cougars beat the defending NAIA national champs 31-24 in overtime. The next time Mike Feminis is seen walking along the St. Xavier University sideline, his attire might have already undergone a change.

“I’m taking the visor off and wearing a hat because I’ll be completely bald after this,” the veteran leader joked.

“This” referred to the Cougars’ season-opener with Marian University, a contest pitting the past two NAIA national champions against one another. And through 30 minutes of Saturday night’s clash at Bruce R. Deaton Field, it was all Knights.

The defending titlists roared out to a 24-10 halftime edge and, with SXU’s offense seemingly stuck in neutral, appeared to be in excellent position to knock off their longtime Mid-States Football Association rival. But Marian was kept out of the end zone after that, and the Cougars finally took advantage of excellent second-half field position to forge a tie in the late stages of regulation.

A missed Knights field goal necessitated overtime, and senior Joe Gill’s 13-yard pass to redshirt freshman Sean Jones in the extra session gave NAIA No. 4-ranked SXU the points it needed to secure an improbable 31-24 triumph over No. 2 Marian in a conference crossover contest.

Déjà vu denied: Eagles dodge another slip, edge T’bolts

  • Written by Ken Karrson

One of baseball Hall of Famer Yogi Berra’s supposed malapropisms was the phrase, “It’s like déjà vu all over again.”

  Sandburg coach Dave Wierzal could be excused for not finding any humor in Berra’s famous quote Friday night, mainly because his Eagles were on the verge of reliving a Week 1 nightmare. In that previous situation, Sandburg failed to hold onto a 21-6 halftime advantage and ultimately suffered a devastating 26-21 setback to Lincoln-Way Central.

Fast forward to Seliga Field in Week 2, where visiting Andrew had rallied from a 28-14 deficit to grab a 35-28 lead eight minutes into the fourth period. With the Thunderbolts having scored on three straight possessions, Wierzal was understandably nervous about what was unfolding in front of him.

“It was pretty stressful,” he said. “There was a lot of time left, but there was the issue of would we be able to stop them if we went three-and-out [on offense] again? We hadn’t stopped them for three series.”

But just when it was most needed, Eagles defenders did exactly that — twice in a row, in fact. In between, Sandburg’s offense tallied twice, on Aidan Muno-Kohn’s 7-yard run and Brian Langowski’s 4-yard dash.