By Chris Chaney
The Batavia Bulldogs had to make a series of adjustments for their Week Three game against the Gamble Montessori Gators, both in their preparation leading up to the game and then when the lights came on Thursday evening, but neither stood in their way of getting to 2-1 on the season.
“First and foremost, the game being on Thursday didn’t do anything bad to us, but it changed our schedule and made us get into game mode a day early,” Bulldogs head coach Don Sizer said. “There was a realization that this is 24 hours before we normally play, so I think that was the biggest reason for our slow start and also the fact that their speed is hard to duplicate in practice.”
The first quarter of the Bulldogs’ third game of the season was a slugfest, but not in the terms of a slow-down, grind-it-out-type battle; quite the opposite, in fact. The first quarter was a slugfest in that both teams were throwing haymakers at one another in the form of big-play touchdowns.
The Bulldogs tried to establish the run early, only to find the scoring recipe was through the air. Junior quarterback KeShawn Foley threw for two long touchdowns on the Bulldogs’ first two scoring drives of the first quarter before breaking off a 46-yard quarterback keeper that also went for six.
The only problem with the ease with which the Bulldogs scored was that the Gators, who tied the game at 20 through one quarter, seemingly matched Batavia’s long touchdowns with big scoring plays of their own.
Coach Sizer said the realization that his team needed to get down to business sunk in after the Bulldogs let Gamble stick around through the first 12 minutes of play.
From there on out, Batavia only gave up 12 points while scoring 34 more of their own to win a 54-32 game going away.
“It took about a quarter for our guys to get acclimated to their speed and then things were better after that,” Sizer said. “(Gamble) stacked the box a lot and we had to take advantage of it. We have some kids that can catch and a kid who can throw it around, so we took advantage of that.”
Defensively, Sizer wanted his defensive backs to jam the Gamble receivers at the line to throw off their timing, but the Gators’ speed caught the Bulldogs defense off guard to start. Once they were able to better acclimate themselves with the opponent, the Bulldogs defense stymied a previously lethal passing attack.
The Bulldogs spread the wealth around on offense with six players finding pay dirt. Running backs Sean Hill and Dylan Wagner both ran for rushing touchdowns, while Tony Gatto rushed six times for 61 yards.
Foley was the Bulldogs’ most potent offensive threat for the third week in a row, rushing six times for 100 yards and three scores. Foley also threw the ball 12 times, completing eight passes to five different receivers and three more touchdowns.
Conn Gerrard, Ian Stamper and Wagner scored through the air.
Foley’s reputation as the Bulldogs’ go-to guy has opened up opportunities for his teammates and their exceptional play has made the Batavia offense a tough one to contain.
“Everyone has to key on (Foley) so much that our other players have a chance to carry the ball, to catch the ball and have some success,” Sizer said. “The other guys are freed up a little bit.”
That Batavia offense has become the problem of the Amelia Barons for Week 4. The Bulldogs and Barons face off in Holman Stadium on Friday, Sept. 20 with both teams coming in off of big wins. Amelia dismantled Clermont Northeastern on Sept. 13, 27-0.
Sizer is expecting Amelia’s size up front to cause some problems for the Bulldogs, but is game planning to use the Barons’ size to the Bulldogs’ advantage. Sizer wants to make the bigger Amelia guys spread out and run a lot while using the weapons he described earlier to create scoring opportunities.
Amelia will be Batavia’s last game before jumping into league play with CNE the following week, then Williamsburg, Blanchester and Bethel-Tate in early October.
“We jump in with both feet against Amelia next week,” Sizer said, stacking up the Bulldogs’ next few weeks of play. “CNE has changed their philosophy a bit and have some good athletes and big kids as well.
“I think we’re going to be playing in a physical league and our deal is that we’re going to have to stay healthy. The bottom line is that we have to do our best and make the other teams go to Plan B.”
The Bulldogs and Barons kick off at 7:30 p.m. at Holman Stadium tomorrow night.