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The INSIDER: Football

Published: Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2012 5:30 a.m. CDT

SPOTLIGHT ON ...

Ben Niemann
Sycamore, junior, WR/DB
Niemann had a busy Friday night, recovering a fumble, returning an interception 82 yards for a touchdown and hauling in a fourth-quarter touchdown pass from quarterback Devin Mottet.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

Sycamore at Kaneland, 7:30 p.m. Friday The Spartans will try to snap Kaneland’s regular-season winning streak, which dates to 2009.
Yorkville at DeKalb, 7:30 p.m. Friday
This might be the Barbs’ best chance at a second victory this season with an away game against Rochelle scheduled in Week 9.

POWER RANKINGS

1. Kaneland (7-0): The Knights rolled again. Need much more be said? 2. Sycamore (5-2): Austin Culton carried the Spartans to a crucial 26-14 win over Rochelle. 3. Genoa-Kingston (2-5): The Cogs saw their playoff aspirations come to an end with a tough loss to North Boone. 4. Hiawatha (2-5): Hiawatha couldn’t match a talented Alden-Hebron team and will not be eligible for the postseason this year. 5. DeKalb (1-6): Like Morris’ previous six opponents, DeKalb was no match for the Redskins’ powerful run game.

NOTEBOOK: Niemann enjoys big 2nd half

Sycamore’s Ben Niemann had been as sure-handed as any receiver in the area through the football season’s first six games, but the junior had a couple of drops early in Spartans’ 26-14 win over Rochelle on Friday night in Sycamore.

Niemann couldn’t corral a deep ball from quarterback Devin Mottet in the first quarter and dropped a 21-yard pass that likely would’ve gone for a touchdown in the second quarter.

However, the wideout responded with a huge second half. He made a great break on the ball and reeled in a tough catch on his 82-yard interception return for a touchdown and then sealed the game on an 18-yard touchdown pass from Mottet down the middle of the field in the fourth quarter.

Sycamore HOF inductees

Two players and a former Spartans team were celebrated as new inductees into the Sycamore High School Hall of Fame during Friday’s game against Rochelle.

Angie Brown, Bob Hill and the 1961 football team were celebrated for their accomplishments.

Brown, a 2003 graduate, was a basketball, golf and softball star for the Spartans. She was a two-time conference MVP and qualified for the golf state championships as a senior. Brown went on to play basketball at St. Xavier University.

Hill, a 1960 graduate, won 10 varsity letters, playing basketball, football, baseball and track. He was named all-conference twice in basketball and once in football. He went on to play basketball at Rice University.

The 1961 Sycamore football team went 8-0 and was part of coach Pete Johnson’s 33-game winning streak, still the seventh-longest streak in state history. Tom Tucker and John Boies were all-state players on the 1961 team, which outscored opponents, 177-79.

Missed opportunity

A pivotal moment in Genoa-Kingston’s 21-14 loss to North Boone came late in the first half, when the Cogs were pressing for a touchdown to take a 14-point lead heading into halftime.

G-K had the ball inside the North Boone 10-yard line but had to settle for a field goal try, which went wide, after being pushed back by penalties. The Cogs went into the half up by seven.

“A penalty here, a penalty there, that’s what happens,” Cogs coach Travis Fredricks said.

The Cogs could only muster 86 yards of offense in the second half on the way to their fifth loss of the year.

“We just kept getting backed up in our end zone all day and it was hard to sustain a drive,” quarterback Adam Price said. “Penalties just killed us all game.”
• Anthony Zilis contributed to this report.

VIEWS:  Can Knights break through with better ‘D’?

One question has centered on the Kaneland football program since the 2012 season started: Is this the year the Knights get to Champaign?

After two straight losses in the Class 5A state semifinals and an experienced roster returning, Kaneland looks primed to make another deep postseason run.

And through the first seven weeks of the season, Kaneland has been as good as advertised.

The Knights are 7-0, running their regular-season winning streak to an absurd 26 games spanning parts of four seasons. They have outscored opponents, 312-88, and have an average margin of victory of 32 points a game.

After a one-point win over Chicago Brooks in Week 1 and a tougher-than-expected win over Huntley in Week 2, Kaneland has been dominant, not playing a game ending closer than four touchdowns.

Like last year, the Knights feature a high-powered attack led by quarterack Drew David, who is surrounded by a number of explosive playmakers. But one of the big differences over last year has been Kaneland’s emerging defense.

Consider these statistics: Last year, including the playoffs, Kaneland’s defense only had two games in which it held an opponent fewer than 10 points. This year, the Knights have three shutouts in their first seven contests. They’ve allowed only 29 points over their past five games and eight of those came on a meaningless touchdown to DeKalb late in the fourth quarter of Kaneland’s 66-23 win.

DeKalb coach Todd Hallaron, who has coached against the Knights each of the past three seasons, said he thinks this is the best Kaneland team he’s seen of late.

But the postseason (Kaneland will be in Class 5A or 6A) will determine whether the 2012 team earns that distinction or not.

• Ross Jacobson is the sports editor of the Daily Chronicle. Contact him by email at
rjacobson@daily-chronicle.com.

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