Daily Herald
Batavia is going to be fun to watch
By John Lemon | Daily Herald Columnist
Published: 8/27/2011 2:01 AM

Standing on the sidelines last year during Marmion's run to the Class 6A state championship game, you would get used to hearing a lot of fired up players and coaches hollering about a big hit or a punishing run as the Cadets made one more big play after another.

Standing on the same sideline with a new cast of players Friday night in Batavia, the same coaches most common instructions?

"Punt team, get ready!"

It was that kind of night for Marmion. And unfortunately for the Cadets, even when the punt team came in life was difficult for punter A.J. Friedman. He had to run for his life three times on bad snaps, showing impressive athleticism to get off the best 11-yard punt you would want to see one time, avoiding a safety another and finally getting absolutely crushed by Marquise Jenkins on a play that drew a late-hit penalty on the Bulldogs.

Those Marmion coaches showed patience with their new faces, and they have a lot of them with just 2 starters back on offense from their 2010 state team.

They certainly could have picked an easier team to break those starters in against than Batavia's veteran defense. Those new Marmion starters included a pair of quarterbacks Dan DiBartolo and Charlie Faunce and later sophomore Brock Krueger late in the fourth quarter.

"This will hurt until Monday at 3 and it should and it does," Marmion coach Dan Thorpe said. "The kids will respond. We were ready mentally. Defensively they did just what we prepared for. They executed their defense better than our offense."

So while the Marmion coaches get back to work next week learning from Friday's mistakes, first-year Batavia coach Dennis Piron certainly can enjoy all the things he saw his Bulldogs do right in his opener.

"I haven't bragged too much about us but I really think we're good," Piron said. "We have a lot of weapons and we're hard to defend."

Batavia is going to get perhaps its best weapon back soon in two-way stud Cole Gardner (knee). He sat out Friday but was cleared by doctors earlier in the day to return.

"It's nice to get this win without him," Piron said. "Think of our defense with him.

"I like all the kids how hard they have worked and how much fun they are having. They like each other. To their credit all the offseason work they put in is what you saw tonight. I think this is the beginning."

Hopefully this is just the start of an annual game with Marmion. This was the second year of a two-year contract, and Piron said he wants the game to continue.

Just like last year, there were long lines before the game waiting to get in. Huge crowds, neighboring schools, the added intensity it brings when some of the Marmion players grew up in Batavia.

"Our town supports us. They (Marmion) travel well, they should," Piron said. "They told us they will renew, we sure hope they do. Our sophomore game was even (a 14-7 Batavia win). Hopefully we renew because how can you do better than this rivalry for the first game of the season?"

jlemon@dailyherald.com