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Knights football season comes to a close

It was like a sad ending to a tremendously entertaining play when the curtain fell for the final time on the 1996 Kaneland football Knights, as the Driscoll Highlanders defeated the team in white, 24-6 in the second round of the 1996 IHSA class 3A state playoffs. It was a great season, but unfortunately it had to come to an end.

The Knights had plowed under the the Farmington Farmers 31 -14 in the first round of the playoffs the prior week. This followed a smashing win over Westmont to win the SPC Blue Division championship. Details, stats, stories, pictures, etc. follow: (to one of the most entertaining seasons ever for the Kaneland Knights.)

Click here: for a report on Round one: the Farmington game.

Click here: for a preview of Driscoll game and the Playoffs.

Click here: for a report on Round two: the Driscoll game.

Click here: for a preview of Kaneland's football future.


Following Kaneland's lost to Driscoll, interest in area moved to wrestling and basketball. However the playoffs continued with Driscoll losing to Spring Valley Hall by a single point, 22-21. Spring Valley Hall, who won the 3A title last year, then earned a return trip to Normal by beating Marengo 41-28 the following Saturday. This pitted Spring Valley Hall with one loss against Carterville with no loses, for the Class 3A state championship.

In the championship game, Carterville scored a touchdown with 2:34 left and beat defending champion Spring Valley Hall 23-20, on a icy rainy night. Carterville (14-0), was bumped up from 2A for the playoffs and had almost 200 fewer students than Hall.


"I think the Kaneland Knight defense is a great example of TEAM D!! The guys play together and never put their heads down. There are some young kids doing a great job and some seniors stepping up as well. I think we owe it all to the defensive coordinator-Coach Kearney. He is the guy who puts it all together in practice and puts us in the right place to make the play.

We never think the other team is better than us because we go harder than they do every play. Even when the offense fumbles or throws a pick we run out on to the field and do our best to get the ball back.

Overall the defense is the main reason we have a 6-2 record and playoff bound. We play our hardest because we never want to let coach Kearney down and we take pride in it. We still don't have a shutout and will do our best to get coach one this week at Westmont because he deserves it for all the help and time he has put into this TEAM!!!!"

Senior Captain, Paul Aspengren


Sept. 27 vs Yorkville is Parents night
Oct. 18 vs Evergreen Park is Homecoming
8/30 Fri Grant Fox Lake 5:30 Won 35-6
9/06 Fri Wauconda Home 5:30 Won 40-18
9/13 Fri Glenbard South Home 5:30 Won 25-6
9/20 Fri Morris Morris 5:30 Lost 14-21
9/27 Fri Yorkville Home 5:30 Lost 7-14
10/5 Sat Ridgewood Norridge 10:45 Won 26-12
10/11 Fri Herscher Herscher 5:30 Won 27-7
10/18 Fri Evergreen Park Home 5:30 Won 17-7
10/26 Sat Westmont Westmont 10:45 Won 51-13
11/2 Sat First round Playoffs Farmington 6:00 Won 31-14
11/9 Sat Second round Playoffs Driscoll 1:00 Lost 6-24

Kaneland vs Grant

Kaneland won game one 35-6, after giving up an first possession touchdown to Grant. But, then blanked the Bulldogs the rest of the way. The Knights used the running combination of Ryan West (109 yards) and Dan Kenny (97 yards) to pound on Grant.

Kaneland vs Wauconda

The Kaneland Knights stomped the visiting Wauconda Bulldogs, 40-18. The Knights started fast by bursting to 40-0 lead by mid-second quarter, and then relaxing the rest of the way for the victory. Ryan West returned two punts for touchdowns of 48 and 50 yards. P.J. Fleck scored on 45 yard pass play, Paul Schupper scored on a 35 yard pass, and Dan Kenny and QB Eric Delaney ran for TDs. The Knights rushed for 231 yards and passed for 144 more.

Kaneland vs Glenbard South

Glenbard South had no answer for Dan Kenny, as he rambled for 224 yards on 16 carries and scored 4 touchdowns to lead the unbeaten Kaneland Knights (3-0) to a 25-6 victory. Glenbard who came into the game unbeaten could only watch as Kenny ran for a 71 yard TD in the third quarter and capped the evenings' scoring with a 75 yard TD in the fourth. Kenny now has 504 yards rushing on 39 carries, in the first 3 games. Almost 13 yards per attempt.

At the end of the game Kenny said, "It felt weird, but great," referring to so much open field in front of him. " I owe it all to the guys up front who blocked for me."

Kaneland vs Morris

In the beginning it looked like a repeat of last year's 33-0 Morris blow-out. On their first two possessions Morris scored touchdowns for an early 14-0 first quarter lead, while the Knights couldn't even find the first down markers.

To add insult to injury, both QB Eric Delaney and receiver Paul Schuppner were injured in the action, never to return. But the Knights dug in and held the Redskins scoreless for the rest of the half and managed to get on the scoreboard with themselves with a second quarter drive ending with a 5 yard TD pass play to P.J. Fleck.

Starting the second half trailing 14-7 the Knights kept battling the Redskins back and forth until the middle of the forth quarter when Dan Kenney tied the score at 14 with a 2 yard run. However, with 2,500 screaming fans, Morris marched down the field to score their third TD of the evening with only 4:17 to play.

Kaneland failed to advance the ball and had to punt from their own 17 with only 3 minutes to play. Morris fumbled the punt and the Knights recovered on Morris's 43 yard line. But, a Kaneland win wasn't meant to be as the Knights turned the ball back to the Redskins on downs to end one of the most exciting games in memory, losing 21-14. Dan Kenny being shadowed the entire game gained 49 yards.

Fox Valley Rushing Leaders
Player (school) Carries Yards Avg.
Joe Engel, Oswego 181 1,055 5.8
Herschel Dixon, Waubonsie Valley 161 1,028 6.4
Dan Kenny, Kaneland 118 934 7.9
Matt Kitzmiller, Mooseheart 106 925 8.7
Tom Koutsos, Marmion 119 910 7.6

Kaneland vs Yorkville

On the heels of the intense Morris game, Kaneland seemed to lack the same intensity as they found themselves down to a very tough Yorkville team, 14-0 by the middle of the second quarter. From that point on the Knights defense dug in only to allow Yorkville two first downs. However, the high powered Knight offense stifled themselves with nine fumbles for the night, five of which the Foxes recovered.

Four times the knights penetrated their opponents 20, but only once did they score. That was on a 4th quarter 1 yard Dan Kenny TD. An Aaron Siebens to P.J. Fleck, 23 yead pass to the 1 set up the lone score. Fleck finished with 4 receptions for 90 yards, Ryan West and Dan Kenny added 77 and 67 on the ground respectively.

"The way I look at it, (in) a Yorkville-Kaneland game, we needed a a lot more intensity than we showed in the first half", stated coach Joe Thorgesen. "Our kids came back in the second half, showed character, but we didn't get it done at crucial situations. Obviously, the fumbles were the reason."

Click here: for a special report on the Yorkville game.

Kaneland vs Ridgewood

Fox Valley Team Leaders
Defense Offense
School Pts per Shool Pts per
Mooseheart 6.7 St Charles 36.8
Kaneland 11.5 Aurora Central 36.5
Aurora Central 13.1 Batavia 34.2
St.Charles 13.6 Marmion 29.5
Yorkville 14.7 Kaneland 26.8

It looked like a repeat of last weeks game as the Kaneland Knghts played their first Saturday day game this week-end, and turned the ball over SIX times in the first half to trail the Ridgewood Rebels 12-6 at halftime. The Knights continued to play give away at the beginning of the second half, with yet two more give backs. The Knights were giving their fans an early Halloween scare entering the final quarter still trailing 12-6, but the offense finally settled down and played a flawless 12 minutes scoring 3 touchdowns to take home a hard fought 26-12 victory. The win coupled with a Yorkville's lose to Evergreen Park, put the Knights right back in the conference title race.

Click here: for a special report on the Ridgewood game.

Kaneland vs Herscher

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Kaneland sweated out yet another game. Then scored two TD's in the forth quarter for a 27 -7 win against the Herscher Tigers. Story of the game - Great Defense and SEVEN more fumbles for 4 turnovers. That's 23 fumbles in the last 3 games! In the end Herscher could only muster 4 first downs and a total of 38 yards against the Kaneland rock solid defense. Kaneland ended up with 3 times as many first downs (12-4) and six times as many total yards, 240- 38. Yet the game was close until the middle of the final quarter.

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"The name of the game for us is defense," said Kaneland coach Joe Thorgesen, who joked about needing some Pepto-Bismol after the game. "We think we can score, but our defense needs to do it for us, and they did it".

Click here: for a special report on the Herscher game.

Kaneland vs Evergreen Park

Fox Valley Receiving Leaders
Player (school) Catches Yards Avg.
R.J. Luke, Waubonsie 60 965 16.1
Ben Zagorski, Batavia 39 680 17.4
Grif Griffin, St. Charles 39 388 9.9
Brian, Aversa, Geneva 37 492 13.2
Tom Trayser, St. Charles 34 541 15.9
P.J. Fleck, Kaneland 33 539 16.3

The whole season came down to this game. Homecoming, last regular season home game, the winner should be division champion, and it has major playoff implications. Even 1982 Kaneland grad Don Beebe came by for the event.

But, never fear, as Kaneland's great defense held the Mustangs at bay until Dan Kenny was able to break free for a 53 yard scamper into the end zone with less than one minute to play in the third period, for the first score of the game.

From there the Knights controlled the game, taking home an exciting 17-7 victory. With the victory and win next week , Kaneland can be division champions and be assured a playoff spot.

Click here: for a For more on the game and homecoming.

Kaneland vs Westmont

Kaneland WINS!!! 51-13. Evergreen Park and Yorkville both lose, to give Kaneland sole possession of first place and the SPC Blue Division Championship. For the first time ever Kaneland can say they are Conference Champs.

Then Saturday night Kaneland is placed in the 3A class for the Illinois State High School Football playoffs. The Knights where given the number 8 seed in their bracket. The Knights will play Farmington at home, Saturday night at 6:00, in the first round of the playoffs. This will be the only the second time Kaneland has ever had the chance to play for the State Championship.

Click here: for a special report on the Westmont game.

Final 1996 Standings
Kaneland 4 1 7 2
Yorkville 3 2 6 3
Evergreen Park 3 2 5 4
Ridgewood 2 3 4 6
Westmont 2 3 3 6
Herscher 1 4 2 6
Morris 5 0 7 2
Riverside-Brookfield 4 1 8 1
Elmwood Park 2 3 4 5
Sycamore 2 3 2 7
Geneva 1 4 2 7
Lemont 1 4 1 8
Batavia 4 1 8 1
Minooka 4 1 7 2
Glenbard South 3 2 6 3
Felton 2 3 4 5
Oswego 2 3 5 4
Plainfield 0 5 0 9

Sophomore Football

Kaneland 14 Grant 12

Trailing 12-6 late in the fourth quarter Shaun Wenz caught a swing pass for his second touchdown of the game to tie the score. The Knights used the same play for the 2-point conversion, then stopped the Bulldogs on their final two possessions for the win.

Kaneland 8 Wauconda 25

Trailing 7-0 at halftime, Kaneland's Shaun Wenz returned the opening kick-off 85 yards for Kaneland's only TD. Wenz then caught a swing pass on the conversion for a 8-7 Kaneland lead. But that was short lived, as the Bulldogs scored three second half TD's for the win.

Kaneland 6 Glenbard South 14

Trailing 14-0 in the fourth quarter, QB Colin Baumgartner ran an end around to score Kaneland's lone TD. The two point conversion failed. In the forth quarter Kaneland made two long drives, but were stopped each time by a stubborn Glenbard defense, resulting in a disappointing loss.

Kaneland 14 vs Morris 26

Shaun Wenz scored a first half TD pass from Colin Baumgartner and ran for the 2 point conversion to give Kaneland a early lead. But Morris came back to tie the score at halftime 8-8. In the second half the Knight defense could not hold the charging Redskins, as the Knights allowed 3 second half touchdowns. Wenz got another TD on a nifty 45 pass play, but it was too late in the game to help, as Kaneland lost their third game in a row 26-14.

Kaneland 6 Yorkville 7

On their first possession the Knights marched down the field to score on a Baumgartner to Wenz swing pass from 18 yards out. A QB keeper for the conversion failed for a early 6-0 lead. But that was the Knights only score as the Yorkville Defense toughen up. The Knights defense also played well, only to give up a 4th quarter TD. Yorkville then kicked the PAT for the win.

Kaneland 39 Ridgewood 6

The Kaneland Sophomore football team, came to life as they slammed the Ridgewood Rebels 39-6. Kurt Long scored a TD on the Knights first possession and Shaun Wenz caught a Colin Baumgartner pass for the two point conversion (TPC). Long recovered a fumbled punt, which lead to a Mike Behrens 12 yard TD reception from Baumgartner. Baumgartner himself ran in for the TPC. Wenz recovered a fumble at the Rebel 20 and rambled in for the Knights third TD. Long ran for the conversion and Kaneland lead 24-6 at half time. Wenz added two more touchdowns to the Knights tally in the third quarter with runs of 5 and 45, and added a TPC himself. Billy McKeown kicked the extra point for the games final score to end the 3rd quarter.

The last TPC was run from the power-I formation with Helge Lundgren as the up back. "He made a hole so big that you could drive a truck through it", said Wenz.

Kaneland 0 Herscher 35

Kaneland started strong with a first and goal to go at the 2 when a fumble turned the tide and the Herscher Tigers took it to the Knights handing them their only shutout. Not much more can be said about this game.

Kaneland 6 Evergreen Park 0

Early in the first quarter Jason Cornell scored the game's only touchdown from 1 inch out. An option to Curt Long was unsuccessful for the 2 point conversion attempt. Then the Knights played tough defense for the team's first shutout of the year and 6-0 victory.

Kaneland 43 Westmont 6

Shaun Wenz turned into a scoring machine with 4 touchdowns in the first half, to carry Kaneland to an easy 43-6 win and end the sophomore season on a high note 4-5. Curt Long had two 2-point conversions, and Mike Behrns caught a Colin Baumgartner pass for another to account for a 30-6 half time lead. In the second half Mike Merfeld scored from 35 yards out and Tony Signorella ran in from the 13. Bill McKeown hit on one of his two extra point kicks for the final tally.

Freshmen Football

9/3 Tues Aurora Central Aurora 4:30 Lost 0-26
9/7 Sat Wauconda Wauconda 10:00 Lost 8-12
9/10 Tues Westmont Home 5:00 Won 8-0
9/18 Wed Glenbard South Glen Ellyn 5:00 Lost 7-26
9/24 Tues Morris Home 4:30 Lost 8-20
10/1 Tues Yorkville Yorkville 6:00 Lost 12-46
10/7 Mon Ridgewood Home 5:00 Lost 20-46
10/14 Mon Herscher Home 11:00 Won 18-6
10/21 Mon Evergreen Park Evergreen Park 4:30 Won 30-0

Photos by Allen Kahl and courtesy of The Elburn Herald

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