YORKVILLE – Adversity once again amounted to little for the Kaneland football team Friday night.
Arguably the worst thing that happened to the Knights in a 55-0 rout of Northern Illinois Big 12 East rival Yorkville was Drew David’s interception late in the first half with the outcome well in hand.
Foxes defensive back Latrell Williams swooped under a David pass that rainbowed down the sideline, and Yorkville’s homecoming crowd temporarily went wild. The score, after all, still was 34-0.
Kaneland (7-0, 3-0 NI Big 12 East) triggered the running clock soon enough, converting the opening possession of the second half to a touchdown in 2:27. The Knights scored on six of their first seven drives overall, repeating a tried and true recipe that’s highlighted much of their 13-for-13 all-time run in the conference.
“We just go out there and play our game,” senior left tackle Zach Theis said. “Doesn’t matter what size, how big they are, how old they are, we just go out there and do as well as we can. Do what we practice all week.”
Yorkville (3-4, 0-3 NI Big 12 East) managed only 51 first-half rushing yards on 22 carries. Foxes quarterback Jake Anton had three incompletions before throwing an interception to Kaneland’s Jesse Balluff, who further put his imprint on the game with four touchdowns – two each rushing and receiving.
Already a noted runner who broke out as a sophomore during the Knights’ 2011 climb to the Class 5A state semifinals, Balluff got early season snaps at safety but started working in more regularly during Week 5 at Rochelle.
“It’s fun. I’m playing both ways and we’re scoring like crazy, and our defense is doing awesome,” Balluff said. “It’s just enjoyment, really.”
Fellow junior Dylan Nauert accounted for two other touchdowns en route to the running clock, with an 11-yard scoring run and 60-yard TD reception from Drew David.
Defensively, linebackers Ryan Lawrence (one sack) and Gary Koehring helped limit the Foxes’ ground attack as Yorkville finished without a completed pass.
Filled in on that fact after the game, Knights coach Tom Fedderly raised his eyebrows. He wasn’t aware.
“We really talked and stressed to these kids as the season goes along, games are getting bigger, we’ve got to improve as a team if we want to be the team we want to be,” Fedderly said. “I was really glad to see us not take a step back.”
David’s quick slant to Nauert, a one-play, 10-second drive, resembled the kind of explosiveness Kaneland has unleashed with its vaunted spread attack in the past several seasons.
On Friday, more deliberate drives actually were the norm. Kaneland even needed a pair of fourth-down conversions deep in Foxes territory before cashing in for separate TDs.
The Knights clicked early without one of their emerging weapons. Kaneland will wait to hear on the prognosis of junior tight end/linebacker Tyler Slamans, who appeared to hyperextend his knee at the end of a first-quarter reception, Fedderly said.
Home games against Sycamore and Morris remain in the Knights’ bid for a third successive conference title. Many of the Knights’ coaches wear hats highlighting the “Back 2 Back” crowns from 2010-11, but the program realizes minting another slogan for a newer version isn’t guaranteed.
“Don’t look forward, don’t look far ahead,” Theis said. “Next game’s Sycamore. We’ll start a game plan Monday and see how that works.”
If the past two-plus seasons are any indication, the Knights will take their chances. Either way, their strategy tilts toward the efficient side.