DEKALB—The seeds for Batavia’s Class 7A state title were planted back in 2013 at Huskie Stadium. A group of eighth graders watched the Bulldogs win the championship in the stands that season.
“We were all in the top left corner,” Batavia senior Eric Peterson said. “Ever since then we really thought that we could do it. We’ve been successful in football all through our youth years. It’s just crazy the journey we took to get here.”
Batavia beat Lake Zurich 21-14 in overtime on Saturday.
“We’ve been playing together so long,” Batavia quarterback Riley Cooper, who was in that group in 2013, said. “We’ve built such a brotherhood, such a chemistry and we knew how we needed to end it. All of our work paid off today.”
Cooper connected with senior Tommy Stuttle for a ten-yard pass in overtime that turned out to be the game winner after the Bulldogs’ defense shut down the Bears (13-1).
“We ran that play a couple times earlier in the game,” Cooper said. “I was talking to coach on the headset and he said it was gonna be open, I just have to be patient. The offensive line did a great job and Tom did a great job getting open.”
“It was incredible,” Stuttle said. “Riley put it right where we needed it. All I had to do was catch it and back up a couple of yards. Lake Zurich didn’t cover it bad I think we just ran it really smoothly.”
Cooper threw two touchdown passes to Peterson in the first half. The duo combined for nine touchdowns in the playoffs.
“We’ve been doing a lot of work in the summer and we’ve been together so long,” Cooper said. “I know exactly where he’s going to be.”
Cooper was 28 for 42 for 295 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions. Peterson caught 10 passes for 154 yards. Stuttle had eight catches for 68 yards.
Lake Zurich’s defense, which only allowed nine points a game this season, has been heavily praised since August. Batavia coach Dennis Piron had something to say about that.
“Let’s talk about Batavia’s defense, because our defense is sensational,” Piron said. “It has been all year long, has been one of the best if not the best in the state of Illinois.”
Batavia (13-1) led 14-7 at the half. Lake Zurich tied the game on a 39-yard pass from Evan Lewandowski to Matthijs Enters with 3:51 left in the third quarter.
Lewandowski finished 13 for 29 for 179 yards and two touchdowns.