First things first

By on November 1, 2012

Photo: Kaneland’s Kory Harner takes down the Belvidere receiver in the third quarter of the Knight’s 48-0 home playoff romp on Saturday. Photo by Patti Wilk

Knight attack
sends Belvidere Bucs
reeling in 48-0 win

by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—Saturday night seemed familiar.

No. 1 Kaneland and No. 16 Belvidere once again brought in 9-0 and 5-4 records, respectively, to their second consecutive Class 5A first-round meeting.

The obviously similar occurrence to last year would be the Knights football squad emerging as the victor, which was about the only thing the same.

Instead of a 51-45 shootout from a year ago, the Knights jumped out early and stifled whatever Belvidere’s offense could muster in a 48-0 shellacking of the NIC-10 representative Bucs.

Kaneland (10-0) begins a playoff win streak anew after losing in the Class 5A State semifinals to visiting Montini Catholic to close out the 2011 season.

KHS is now 35-3 in its last 38 contests, dating back to the 2009 campaign.

Belvidere finishes at 5-5 after putting up 74 total yards and three first downs, despite the vast talents of quarterback Troy Vandenbroek and wide out Kane Steger.

Running back Jesse Balluff had 110 yards rushing and two scores, while quarterback Drew David continued to work his way back from a nagging hand injury with 128 yards passing and a rushing TD.

On the defensive end, Dylan Nauert picked off three passes and very nearly ran them in for scores before being stopped.

Balluff got things started early, with shades of Quinn Buschbacher’s first play from scrimmage in 2011, taking a direct snap out of wildcat formation all the way to the end zone for a 41-yard touchdown just 81 seconds into the contest for a 7-0 lead.

After a Blake Bradford fumble recovery deep into Bucs’ territory, Balluff scored from the 1 four plays later for a 14-0 edge.

“We knew their defense was the weaker part of their team,” Balluff said. “We scored 51 last year and we knew that was coming, but still, we were worried about their offense.”

The Knights’ next drive had a key third-down pass to Zach Martinelli for 19 yards, and two plays later, David called his own number for a one-yard touchdown sneak for a 21-0 lead with 10:43 left in the second quarter.

Kaneland employed Balluff to gain ground on its next drive, and Matt Rodriguez nailed a 35-yard field goal try with 3:18 remaining in the first half for a 24-0 lead.

A Nauert interception on the first play of the Bucs’ ensuing drive gave the ball back to KHS at the 13-yard line, where Rodriguez hit his second field goal, a 25-yarder, for a 27-0 advantage with 1:30 left in the first half.

Belvidere began the second half with a three-and-out, allowing David to find Kyle Pollastrini after one play for a 56-yard TD strike after the receiver deftly followed a block and galloped down the sideline with 10:49 left in the third for a 34-0 edge.

Nauert had interceptions on the next two Belvidere drives, the final one putting Kaneland at the visitors’ 21.

Fullback Nate Dyer ran the ball six consecutive times before plunging in from the 1-yard line for a 41-0 lead with 3:10 to go in the third to trigger the running clock.

Backup QB Tyler Carlson scampered for a 30-yard TD run with 5:12 to go for the final 48-point margin.

KHS coach Tom Fedderly made sure the Knights were not caught off guard by their foes from the north again.

“We really wanted to make sure we gave them our best effort tonight,” Fedderly said. “I’m really happy with the results. You look at some of the teams they play, and they’re great, like Rockford Boylan, Harlem and Hononegah. We’re just not taking anyone for granted.”

Saturday, Nov. 3, at 1 p.m. brings the second-round challenge for the Knights, in the form of a road jaunt to New Lenox, Ill., to face the host No. 9 Lincoln-Way West (LW-W) Warriors. The Warriors, coached by Todd Ernst, finished 6-3 in the regular season and ousted No. 8 Rochelle on Friday night in a 35-0 drubbing of the Hubs in Ogle County.

The Warriors, members of the Southwest Suburban Conference Red Division, outscored its opponents by an average of 24-13 through the regular season, and also made it to the second round a year ago.

LW-W gave up a season-high 19 points back on opening night, Aug. 24, against Kaneland rival Sycamore in a 19-13 setback.

The Knights-Warriors battle marks the first time KHS has been on the road for a second-round matchup since a meeting with the North Chicago Warhawks back in 2006.

Offsetting Rochelle’s loss, the Northern Illinois Big XII saw wins from Sycamore with a 35-13 win over Chicago’s King, and Morris, which beat Rich East 44-0.