Attention tends to drift towards the linebackers and defensive backs for Batavia’s defense.
After all, the Bulldogs’ top four tacklers are linebackers.
That, however, perhaps has allowed Bulldogs senior defensive end JP Chaney to continue to fly under the radar on a defense already stacked with talent.
Chaney is sixth in tackles with 34, but tied for second with 12 for loss alongside Wisconsin verbal commit Tyler Jansey. Chaney is also tied for second in sacks with 4 1/2 and has a team-high 30 quarterback hurries.
“We got a lot of great playmakers on the team, and really, it makes my game a lot easier when you got great players around you,” Chaney said. “Especially with Brody [Osborne] coming down to outside linebacker, if you don’t account for him he will make you pay.”
“So when it comes down to it, I just have to worry about doing my job and getting myself into a position to succeed,” Chaney continued. “S, as much as the game is big, I think the week of preparation is also key [to] being able to work moves; but also knowing what to do when I’m in a situation I’ve seen before [allowing] me to read and react faster.”
Chaney’s motor and effort isn’t lost on junior linebacker Ben Fiegel, either.
“JP works his tail off no matter what,” Fiegel said. “His pass-rush moves are really what sets him apart and his ability to chase down runners from behind [does as well]. He overall knows the game really well, is one of the hardest workers I know and the work is showing right now.”
Barbush emerging for Bulldogs
One teammate that also is starting to gain some traction is senior linebacker Joey Barbush, who nabbed an interception in Batavia’s 42-0 playoff opening win over Rockford Guilford last week.
“Joey is a great kid. He is a kid who decided that he was going to help the team and to see him develop of the weeks has been special,” Chaney said of Barbush, who has 25 tackles and three interceptions. “He’s really been showing signs of being the lockdown defender our defense was looking for.”
“He is a great teammate who loves to work and get better whatever sport he is playing,” Chaney continued. “I am looking forward to getting to finish my high school career with him in basketball as well.”
Fiegel noted Barbush is a “ballhawk.:
“He is a very fast and aggressive guy,” Fiegel said. He takes what he wants and he is a big part of our secondary.”
Look ahead to Hersey
Batavia (7-3) now turns its attention to Hersey, who enters with a 10-0 record. The Huskies completed their first perfect regular season since 1975 and enter with a reputation for blowing teams out. In eight out of 10 games played, the Huskies have scored at least 40 points and scored 49 points in three of its’ last four games.
“Hersey is a good team. They aren’t 10-0 for no reason,” Chaney said. “They play hard and got some studs on their team and we can’t take them lightly. We feel that we our conference play has really prepared us for a game like this and are ready for the opportunity.”
The Huskies also offer a few options in their rushing stable. Brett Kersemeier had 84 rushing yards on 17 carries and Carter Hansen had 101 yards on 14 carries in their playoff win over Buffalo Grove last week. Nasir McKenzie also is likely to get carries, too.
The Bulldogs traditionally defend the run effectively and surrendered just 39 last week. Batavia allows an average of 78.2 rushing yards per game this season through 10 games.
“I’m excited,” Fiegel said. “They are a good team and it will be an exciting game for sure . I think everyone on the team is amped up and ready to give it their all each and every single week. We have one thing on our mind right now, and that’s this Saturday at 1 p.m.”
Other playoff games
St. Charles North (9-1) visits Hoffman Estates (7-3). Kickoff is Saturday at 2 p.m.
Kaneland (7-3) visits Prairie Ridge (9-1). Kickoff is Saturday at 1 p.m.
St. Francis (9-1) hosts Evergreen Park (8-2). Kickoff is Saturday at 1 p.m.