Kyle Gettemy probably never imagined he’d be making a return trip to Batavia this fall.
Earlier this season, Yorkville scheduled a JV game at Batavia. Gettemy, Yorkville’s senior linebacker, made the trip.
Now Gettemy and the Foxes are heading back to Batavia. This time, for the program’s biggest game in a generation.
“I don’t think we thought about it at the time that we would be back here for a varsity game,” Gettemy said. “I’m excited for Saturday. They’re a run-heavy offense, we’re a run-stop defense. It will be another physical game like Moline was. They have some big-time players. It’s an opportunity to show what we can do against big-time players and a big-time program.”
Yorkville (10-1), which heads to Batavia (8-3) for a 1 p.m. game Saturday, is in the quarterfinal round for the first time since 1999.
The Foxes are here by virtue of their 34-31, four-overtime win over Moline last Friday. Gettemy led a stop on fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard line to preserve the victory. Younger brother Josh Gettemy, a junior, ran for 113 yards and three touchdowns after starting running back Gio Zeman left the game with a shoulder injury, and caught a touchdown pass.
Batavia, likewise, had to survive a doozy of a second-round game to get here. The Bulldogs beat Hersey 19-13 in double overtime on Wisconsin recruit Tyler Jansey’s 1-yard TD run, after Hersey missed two field goals in the overtime periods.
Batavia, though, is no stranger to deep postseason runs, building a reputation as one of the best programs in the western suburbs. The Bulldogs have made six quarterfinal appearances since Dennis Piron came aboard as head coach in 2011, with state titles in 2013 and 2017.
“There are some consistent things that they do that we try to pattern ourselves after and emulate,” Yorkville coach Dan McGuire said. “Great coaching, a lot of kids playing football – they have to be close to the 90-player range. And the other thing that sticks out is how physical they are. They have a great defense, which is no different than past Batavia teams, but I think they’re even more physical than in the past.”
Yorkville, of course, is just fine with physical football.
A fierce front seven and one of the best defensive lines around is led by Colorado State recruit Andrew Laurich, Wyoming commit Jake Davies and Blake Kersting has posted five shutouts. It shut out Moline in the second half last Friday, allowing Yorkville to score a late touchdown to force overtime.
They’ve caught the eye of Piron, whose program last played Yorkville in 2009, a 14-12 Foxes’ win, as members of the Western Sun Conference.
“They’re a lot bigger than any Western Sun team that I’ve ever seen,” Piron said. “Defensively they’re looking for you to make a mistake and capitalize off of it, as stout defensively as we’ve seen. It’s an impressive group of kids. Luckily a lot of teams we play has an emphasis on their down four.”
The Foxes, unfortunately, might have to go into their biggest test of the season short-handed. The status of Zeman, who has rushed for 973 yards and six TDs this season and is a huge part of the Foxes’ offense, is uncertain.
“We do not know for sure,” McGuire said. “About 50/50.”
The availability of linebacker/fullback Ben Alvarez, also hurt late last Friday, is similarly up in the air.
“Same deal. Could be without both of them,” McGuire said. “That is something we have to be cognizant of. They have been a big part of what we do.”
If Zeman can’t go Yorkville will have to lean on Josh Gettemy, who himself has rushed for 628 yards and six touchdowns on the season.
“Credit to Josh – he’s taken advantage of opportunities that he’s had,” McGuire said.
While Yorkville is dealing with some significant bumps and bruises, Batavia appears to be at its most healthiest at the right time.
Notably, senior wide receiver/defensive back Drew Gerke came off a broken finger over the summer, then played the first half of the season in a cast with a broken wrist. He caught three TDs in one game wearing that cast.
He’s healthy now, has 15 catches for 408 yards, and in last Saturday’s win had a tying 85-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the second half.
“He’s an outstanding player, extremely athletic,” Piron said. “I finally feel like we’re healthy, the best we have been.”
Senior Ryan Whitwell has rushed for 1,191 yards and 19 touchdowns for Batavia and Jansey has rushed for 444 yards and seven touchdowns. Jansey also leads the Batavia defense with 109 tackles, 15 tackles for loss, and four sacks.
Batavia, after a 1-2 start to its season, has lost just once since – in double overtime Week 9 against St. Charles North, another Class 7A quarterfinalist.
As good as Batavia’s program and pedigree is, McGuire’s Foxes aren’t about to back down from the challenge in front of them.
“They are a great program in the area,” McGuire said. “No disrespect to Batavia but our schedule, we’ve had the opportunity to play some very good teams. That is good for our kids. It’s a great opportunity, but at this stage of the game everybody is great.”
Up next: The winner advances to the semifinal round against the winner between No. 11 Lake Zurich (10-1) and No. 3 Pekin (11-0).
Friday Night Drive pick: Batavia