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The INSIDER: Football

Kaneland running back Jesse Balluff gets by DeKalb's Jonathon Bell in the first quarter Friday in Maple Park. The Knights defeated DeKalb, 66-23.
Kaneland running back Jesse Balluff gets by DeKalb's Jonathon Bell in the first quarter Friday in Maple Park. The Knights defeated DeKalb, 66-23.

Kaneland’s defense stuffs run
Kaneland’s defense made life tough on DeKalb running back Dre Brown on Friday night in the Knights’ 66-23 win. Brown, who missed the Barbs’ Week 5 win over Streator with a concussion, had just two rushing yards before halftime.

The sophomore, who came into the game averaging 8.2 yards per carry, often had nowhere to run against a strong Kaneland front seven. Brown finished the game with 15 carries for 64 yards.

First-year DeKalb coach Todd Hallaron said the Knights had a good game plan and had the Barbs scouted well.

“They knew exactly where to bring pressure out of the formations that we had,” Hallaron said. “I think athletically they were just dominant up front.”

In the first half, DeKalb tried to get Brown in the open with short screen passes, but the Kaneland defense was all over him there as well.

“They’re pretty solid in the middle,” Hallaron said. “I was trying to take advantage of the flats in the first half and it just didn’t work.”

Pregame tribute

Sycamore held a moment of silence before Friday night’s varsity football game in honor of John McGrath, 38, who died Thursday morning. McGrath was riding his bicycle to work when he was struck by a car.

McGrath’s two kids attend Sycamore High School and the school is collecting food, money and gift cards for the family in the school’s main office. Sycamore collected money during the game for a memorial fund. To donate money, visit any Northern Bank and Trust and ask for the family fund.

Hallaron praises Knights

Kaneland’s 66-23 win over DeKalb Friday moved the Knights to 6-0, including 2-0 in the Northern Illinois Big 12 East. The strong football conference is now in its third season, and Kaneland still hasn’t lost a league game.

The Knights have made the Class 5A semifinals the past two seasons, but Hallaron, who was an assistant under former Barbs coach Marty Sanders the past two seasons, said this Kaneland team is the best squad he’s seen.

“They had the line. They had the backs, the receivers,” Hallaron said. “The defense that could bring pressure whenever they wanted to.”

The Knights will look to win their 13th consecutive NI Big 12 East game Friday, when they visit Yorkville (3-3).

VIEWS: Spartans’ defense keeping them in games

Five forced turnovers. 13 points allowed.

Those types of defensive numbers usually result in victories, not losses. But another standout performance by the Sycamore defense wasn’t enough to keep the Spartans from back-to-back defeats as Sycamore fell to Morris, 13-0, at home.

Friday’s defensive performance was the latest in a string of good results posted by the Spartan defense.

Jack Dargis picked off a deflected pass early in the second quarter and sophomore Dion Hooker recovered a fumble just before halftime. Hooker would get Sycamore’s second interception of the game early in the third quarter and Brett Weaver recovered two fumbles in the fourth quarter.

Three of those turnovers gave Sycamore the ball in Morris territory, but the offense was unable to put together a sustained drive. Hooker’s interception in the third quarter set up Sycamore at the Morris 29-yard line. The Spartans picked up one first down before quarterback Devin Mottet was picked off.

The Spartans are giving up an average of less than 18 points per game through the first six games, but even that stat is a little misleading.

Sycamore gave up 30 points to DeKalb in Week 3, but all of them came in the second half after getting out to a 35-0 lead in the third quarter. Seven of Geneseo’s points in Week 4 came on a fumble return for a touchdown.

Sycamore coach Joe Ryan admitted the offense has a little work to do moving forward after scoring only six points over the past two games. The young offensive line struggled with some of Morris’ movement up front. 

But the defense continues to keep them in games and is probably the biggest reason the Spartans are still only one win a way from a probable postseason berth.

“That gives us a shot,” Ryan said. “We continue to play defense like that [and] I think we’ve got a shot.”

• Ross Jacobson is the sports editor of the Daily Chronicle. Contact him by email at

Power Rankings
1. Kaneland (6-0)

The Knights took it to DeKalb throughout the first half in only their second home game of the season.

2. Sycamore (4-2)
Sycamore again played a tough game against a good team, but couldn't get much going offensively against Morris.

3. Genoa-Kingston (2-4)
Friday's loss to Winnebago means the Cogs will have to win out to have a shot at the postseason.

4. Hiawatha (2-4)
Mooseheart opened up a 21-0 lead on Hiawatha in the first quarter and the Hawks only managed three yards rushing.

5. DeKalb (1-5)
The Barbs couldn't stop the high-powered Kaneland offense and will have their hands full in Week 7 against Morris.

Spotlight on…
Brett Weaver
Sycamore, so., linebacker
Weaver recovered two fumbles in the Spartans' 13-0 loss to Morris. The linebacker was part of a defense that forced five turnovers on Friday.

What to watch for
Rochelle at Sycamore, 7:30 p.m., Friday
The Spartans will try to end a two-game home losing streak and essentially clinch a playoff spot with a victory.

Alden-Hebron at Hiawatha, 7 p.m., Friday
Hiawatha needs a victory to keep its playoff hopes alive and both of the Hawks' wins have come in Kirkland.

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