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Kaneland football out to avenge loss, reclaim conference

Kaneland wide receiver Connor Fedderly prepares to catch the ball.
Kaneland wide receiver Connor Fedderly prepares to catch the ball.

Tom Fedderly and the Kaneland football team aren’t going to let history get in the way of appreciating a good season.

The Knights went 9-2 last year, reached the second round of the IHSA Class 5A playoffs and missed out on a Northern Illinois Big 12 East Division title because of a 31-21 loss at Sycamore.

The loss to the Spartans was the team’s first regular-season defeat since 2009, and kept them from a fifth consecutive NI Big 12 East title. Fedderly said given the injuries the team battled through last year, he’s happy with the outcome and thinks the team can get back on top.

“We’re really proud of what we did last year,” Fedderly said. “It was a great year. We had a lot of kids who were with us for a long time. Unfortunately, we had some key injuries that were hard for us to overcome. But it’s a new year now and we’re looking to have a lot of fun this year.”

Fedderly said the team will depend a lot on receiver Connor Fedderly – Tom Fedderly’s son – and senior free safety and running back Isaac Swithers. With a new quarterback and depleted receiving corps, he said those two will steer the spread offense early in the season.

Connor Fedderly said the team hasn’t forgotten about the loss to Sycamore last year.

“We knew that was going to be a big game against those guys,” he said. “They had a lot of good players; we had a lot of good players. They came out and they beat us.”

Junior Jake Marczuk has the inside track at quarterback, coach Fedderly said.

“Jake’s a really good athlete,” he said. “He can run, he can pass, he’s a good kid. He had a good summer with our 7-on-7. He’s a really good athlete.”

Last year’s team was a senior-laden bunch, but Swithers said this group isn’t missing a beat.

“We, obviously, lost a lot of people, but that doesn’t change anything really,” Swithers said. “Coaches do a good job keeping us disciplined. We have a really hard-working team and we actually do have a lot of good people coming back. It shouldn’t be any different from last year. Probably a little better than last year.”

Coach Fedderly said that mix, along with the team’s speed, are the two strongest points of the team.

“We’re pretty quick,” Tom Fedderly said. “We’ve got some kids here that have some good experience. There are six kids that we’re bringing back that played quite a bit. I think we’re going to have a good mix of some young kids with some experienced kids.”

Swithers will anchor the secondary on defense, with a pair of standout junior linebackers standing out – Danny Hammeister, who Tom Fedderly called one of the best in the conference, and 6-foot-5, 235-pound Jake Gomes.

Although he said the conference is superclose this year, coach Fedderly said the pieces are in place for the team to be as good as it wants to be.

“We have our goals and that’s what we’re shooting for,” he said. “The kids take a lot of pride in what the program has accomplished and we don’t want any letdowns. We come out here and expect to win. We’ll compete. I know that.”

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