LAKE ZURICH – Tyler Jansey has one more game to achieve the “ultimate prize” of a high school football career.
“Going to state – winning state – is one of the things I’ve always dreamed about,” Jansey said in the blustering cold following Batavia’s 24-7 victory over Lake Zurich in the Class 7A state semifinal on Saturday.
Jansey, a Batavia senior and Wisconsin recruit, watched his brother, Michael, achieve that when Batavia beat Lake Zurich in the 7A final five years ago.
Now, he gets his moment.
“So many guys can talk about what college they go to or what awards they win,” Jansey said. “But, at the end of the day, what you want most is a state championship on your high school team, man. Those are your brothers you grew up with and going to state with your brothers is an experience that most people don’ t get. 99% of people don’t get, so it’s unbelievable. All glory to God.”
Batavia advances to face Mount Carmel, who beat St. Rita in the other semifinal, next Saturday in Champaign. Batavia lost to Mount Carmel in stunning fashion last year in the second round of the postseason in a game filled with late game penalties and an emotional finish.
“That’s the team we wanted to play this year,” Batavia running back Ryan Whitwell said of the possibility of playing Mount Carmel before that game was final. “So it’s exactly what we wanted and we’re ready for them.”
Batavia (10-3) led 10-7 Lake Zurich at the half, but the Bears were the ones to strike first.
Ashton Gondeck connected with Jackson Piggott for a stunning 82-yard touchdown off a play-action fake that found Piggott all alone sprinting for daylight with 530 left in the first quarter.
The Bulldogs answered on Charlie Whelpley’s 2-yard tying score with 7:37 left in the second quarter to make it 7-7. Whitwell fumbled on their next possession, but the defense forced its third punt of the half. Alec Crum knocked in the 32-yard field goal to make it 10-7 Batavia into the half.
On the first play from scrimmage in the second half, Jansey (148 rushing yards) ran for a 71-yard touchdown to make it 17-7 Bulldogs just minutes into the third quarter.
Batavia later had a botched snap on a Crum field goal attempt with 5:50 left in the third quarter deep in Bears territory, but another three-and-out doomed the spark of momentum.
Whitwell eventually cashed in for a 29-yard touchdown to pad the lead and Batavia was eventually able to run the ball enough for eventual kneel downs and celebrate on yet another trip to Champaign.
Whitwell was a seventh grader on the Batavia sideline as a water boy five years ago.
“At the beginning of the season, we were 1-2 and I think a lot of people even on the team were just having doubts and thinking ‘what are we really made of,’” Whitwell said. “Ever since that moment…we always talked about going to the state championship when we were just working out together, it’s just crazy that it’s actually happening now. It’s crazy to play another game. It’s just awesome.”
Whitwell finished with 70 rushing yards and quarterback Ryan Boe had 90 passing yards.
“It doesn’t seem so cold right now, I tell you,” Batavia coach Dennis Piron said. “Shame that we had a couple fumbles, I mean, we really were running the ball well. But we have all year and that’s been our bread and butter…we took some [passing] shots and I think that let them know ‘we’re going to throw the ball’ so because we did, you couldn’t just pack in on us…Jansey was a monster down the stretch. Charlie Whelpley has been so good in the playoffs, our line, Jimmy Zitkus lading those young junior guys…There’s a lot of heroes here.”
Lake Zurich (11-2) was paced by Gondeck’s 5 for 9 completions and 100 passing yards. Chris Pirrone had 25 rushing yards for the Bears.
“These guys were freshmen my first year here,” Bears coach Ron Planz said. “So I’ve watched them grow and mature and they’ll be definitely a place in my heart for a long time. They are. They’re one of the best teams in program history and they deserve all the accolades and they deserve to walk off that field with their head high.”