And then there were 16. Well, round one is over, and the Knights move on to Powerhouse Driscoll Saturday. Driscoll seeded number one, is 10-0 after beating Yorkville last week, 55-20.
This now becomes the biggest game of the season, and could be the biggest football game in Kaneland's history. A victory here and there could be no stopping the Knights.
The Highlanders play a standard 4-3 defense with man coverage. Their line only averages 195 points, but they're very strong. The team has tons of experience, being in the playoffs 8 out of the last nine years, winning the class 3A state championship in 1991. In addition, this year's squad is made up mostly of seniors.
Driscoll has had only one close game all year and has allowed only 39 points for the season. In the last 4 games they have averaged nearly 51 points per game!
Their senior running back #33 Jason Aspito may be the best football player Kaneland has seen all year - he does everything. His junior brother Jeff (#3) is the QB with a deadly arm, who's favorite receiver is #7 Mike Wisnieski, a P.J. Fleck clone. Just when you focus on the Aspito brothers, #44 fullback Patrick Artis will get the ball and break your heart.
Driscoll is a solid team, on offense, defense and special teams. So hang on to your hats, because Saturday's game will certainly be a war.
Even though the Highlanders dismantled the Yorkville Foxes last week, 55-20, there's a story behind the score.
Yorkville was without the heart and sole of their team when powerhouse running back Brad Runkle left the team and superstar quarterback Joe McElroy broke his thumb and was unable to play.
The Foxes offense was none existent, having no first downs the entire first half. With their no-huddle attack, the offense spent only minutes on the field, leaving the defense to carry the load. Driscoll was able to be on the attack all day. Then when Yorkville fumbled the ball on their first two possessions in the second half, they became a beaten team.
But despite the impressive stats by Driscoll, the numbers favor Kaneland. First Kaneland beat Driscoll in last year's playoffs at Kaneland, 21-0. Driscoll lost few seniors so this year's team is about the same as last year. "They really only lost their quarterback", says coach Joe Thorgesen.
And now some fun with numbers. -- Even thought the Highlanders beat the Foxes by 35 points. Hersher beat Yorkville by 21 and Kaneland beat Hersher by 20 so the lopsided Yorkville score is a wash.
Forget Kaneland's lost to Yorkville earlier in the year by 7. Kaneland had 9 fumbles in that game. Both teams are entirely different now. Kaneland's "D" is rock solid and over the last few games the offense has come together under the direction of Aaron Siebens, for a more balanced attack. Plus Matt Gladd's kicking has gotten better and better. On the other hand Yorkville has lost it's key players.
Speaking of Yorkville -- Their freshman football team was 9-0 and their sophomore conference record was 5-0, which included a narrow 7-6 victory over Kaneland. So a natural rivalry is developing between the two schools for years to come.
Looking back over the season the Knights have continued to improve, and as Coach Joe Thorgesen says "Our best football is still ahead of us".
Because of Kaneland's mid season fumbleitiest, the Knights have learned to overcome adversity and the defense has real time back-against-the-wall experience.
But Kaneland's offense has become awesome, even though Dan Kenny who just missed a 1000 yard season has a bad ankle. With Kenny hurt, the Knights just generate another 100 yard running back in Kyle Schrader. West has proven to be Mr. Everything and Mr. reliable. Rusty Pozen is a load to bring down and QB Aaron Siebens, has to take credit for stabilizing the whole shebang.
Throw in a P.J. Fleck on the wing and you have a well rounded attack force.
Enough cannot be said about the offense line as it has really come together over the last half of the season, giving Siebens time to find his target, and generating nice holes for the RB's. Especially watch the right side of the line as guard Brian Herra and tackle Andy Swanson, blow monster holes in the defensive line.
In their last two games, the Knight's offense lit up the scoreboard with 92 points, and that was without a healthy Dan Kenny.
But Kaneland "D" is what this football team is all about. It's a defense that sends shills down the backs of opposing coaches. It's a defense unit that is bonded together between players and coach. Coach Kearney.
Of the 11 defensive positions, the Knights have 7 players who made the SPC Blue all conference team. That's how good they are. They may be the best defensive unit to ever grace Peterson field.
Next adventure is 1:00 Saturday in Addison. Take the Army Trail Road exit off 355 and head east. Turn left at Lombard Street, and Driscoll is just ahead on the left.
Parking is a bit of problem, so it may not be a bad idea to get there a little early. In addition there aren't many seats for visitors.
One question might be, are the Kaneland players concerned about going up against the number one seed next week. "Heck no,". states DB Nick Gillis. "Mr. Kearney will set up a (defensive) game plan, and all we'll have to do is execute it."
Kinda make's yea feel sorry for old Driscoll doesn't it?
On fun side 11 Kaneland players were named to the All Conference Blue team.
From the offense, senior running back Dan Kenny, with 942 yards, Senior OT Andy Swanson, and Sophomore wide receiver P.J. Fleck with 33 snags.
The defensive team consist of, Senior DE Shane Bird, Junior linebacker Rusty Pozen, Sophomore linebacker Kyle Schrader, senior defensive backs Nick Gillis and Paul Aspengren, and Junior DB Ryan West.
And special honors goes to senior Steve Goldman as the Blue Divisions Defensive player of the year.
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