Football Preview: Kaneland’s Got Talent

By on August 23, 2012

Photos: The Kaneland Knights varsity football team (right) hopes to keep its strong defense and improve over last year’s overall record of 21-1. The Knights lost a heartbreaker in last year’s IHSA semifinal 35-31 against Montini. Quarterback Drew David (below) will return to lead the team’s offense. File Photos

Knights’ football feels good about what 2012 holds
by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—For the second straight season, Kaneland football endured a heart-pounding postseason journey.

For the second straight season, Kaneland had its heart broken against visiting Montini Catholic in the Class 5A State semifinals.

But this Knights crew, behind sixth-year coach Tom Fedderly, looks to start a new journey, and have it go just a bit further.

In the early days of practice, Fedderly is feeling good about his crew that has gone undefeated in regular season play since an Oct. 16, 2009, overtime loss to Geneva, and has won 27 of its last 29 contests.

The Knights can take solace in the fact of having five all-Northern Illinois Big XII players coming back.

“A lot of guys are returning, including four offensive linemen, and that means we can spend more time on the little things,” Fedderly said.

“Obviously, when you look at our team coming back, we have a lot of people back but we have to replace Sean (Carter) and Quinn (Buschbacher), and I think we’ll have some kids that’ll do that,” Fedderly said. “We have our quarterback coming back, and he’s a smart kid.”

That smart kid, Drew David, went undefeated, commanding the vaunted spread offense as a sophomore, and continues in the steps of his three-year starting predecessor, Joe Camiliere.

David passed for 39 touchdowns in 2011 and spurred comebacks against teams like DeKalb and Belvidere.

“When you look at Joe’s sophomore year and Drew’s, it’s about the same. I think they had 10 picks each. This year, we hope to not have as many turnovers. We talk about that a lot. Drew’s a smart kid, and he’s not going to make the same mistake twice,” Fedderly said. “He’s a real competitor, and we’re looking forward to seeing what he can do.”

Jesse Balluff returns to bear the load of the ball-carrying in his junior season.

“Last year, we didn’t know what we had coming off the ACL,” Fedderly said of the running back who battled an injury prior to the start of last season. “As the year went on, he got stronger. We just want to continue the progress with him.”

Carter and Buschbacher leave for collegiate ball in Wisconsin, meaning it’s time for new blood.

“We’ve got Zack Martinelli back and Kyle Pollastrini back; both started last year. Tyler Slamans will be out at tight end. Dylan Nauert primarily played defense last year, but he’ll take Carter’s spot and Brandon Bishop comes up, too,” Fedderly said.

On the line, Alex Snyder returns from an exceptional freshman season, and Joe Komel joins the three other returnees—Shane Jorgensen, Drew Sharp and Zach Theis.

Linebacking crew members Ryan Lawrence, Kory Harner and Gary Koehring are expected to bring more all-conference honors and big hits in 2012.

The secondary needs to replace the opportunistic ball-hawking play of Jacob Razo.

Nauert, Harner, John Pruett and Tanner Andrews are looking for picks and hits in the defensive backfield, with Dan Goress and JR Vest fighting for a spot, as well.

Buschbacher’s exit leaves a return hole, but Martinelli and Bishop are projected to offset that need.

Matt Rodriguez will contribute his kicking and punting skills in 2012.

Kaneland looks to take care of tasks and will rely on not only its coaching staff on the sidelines, but on the field.

“We have experience and really smart kids. Getting to the semis last year, they got big-time experience in big games and I think these kids have their heads on straight,” Fedderly said.

The Knights’ quest begins on Saturday, Aug. 25, against host Brooks Prep at Gately Stadium in Chicago, while the first home game is Friday, Sept. 7, against Sterling.

Varsity Football Schedule
• Saturday, Aug. 25; 4 p.m.
At Gwendolyn Brooks
College Prep HS
• Friday, Aug. 31; 7:15 p.m.
At Huntley HS
• Friday, Sept. 7; 7:30 p.m.
Home vs. Sterling HS
• Friday, Sept. 14; 7:30 p.m.
At Streator High School
• Friday, Sept. 21; 7:30 p.m.
At Rochelle Township HS
• Friday, Sept. 28; 7:30 p.m.
Home vs. DeKalb HS
• Friday, Oct. 5; 7:30 p.m.
At Yorkville HS
• Friday, Oct. 12; 7:30 p.m.
Home vs. Sycamore HS
• Friday, Oct. 19; 7:30 p.m.
Home vs. Morris HS

Varsity roster Seniors
Kyle Pollastrini, WR/LB;
Zack Martinelli, WR/DB;
Blake Bradford, LB;
Ryan Lawrence, RB/LB;
Tanner Andrews, WR/DB;
Dan Goress, RB/LB;
Kory Harner, WR/DB;
Michael Kinder, TE/DE;
Zach Theis, OL/DL;
Caesar Estrada, OL/DL;
Nick Sharp, OL/DL;
Bradley Johnson, OL/DL
Juniors
Dan Evers, WR/DB;
JR Vest, DB;
Drew David, QB;
Gary Koehring, RB/LB;
Matt Rodriguez, K;
Brandon Bishop, WR/DB;
Tyler Slamans, TE/LB;
Tyler Carlson, QB/WR;
John Pruett, WR/DB;
Dylan Nauert, WR/LB;
Grant Wooten, WR/DB;
Jesse Balluff, RB/LB;
Nate Dyer, RB/LB;
Cole Carlson, LB;
Bryan Endrenal, OL/DL;
Justin Diddell, OL/DL;
Tom VanBogaert, TE/LB;
Sam Bower, OL/DL;
Joe Komel, OL/DL;
Shane Jorgensen, OL/DL;
Jaumaureo Phillips, OL/DL;
Evan Ortiz, OL/DL;
Alex Snyder, OL/DL
Sophomores
Connor Fedderly, WR/LB
Head coach
Tom Fedderly