Charlie Whelpley helps Batavia beat Yorkville in playoffs

Charlie Whelpley may not do it all for Batavia, but he sure does a lot.

The 6-foot-2, 210-pound junior running back is a special player who excels at running the ball, catching the ball and even kicking the ball as the team’s punter.

And, on occasion, Whelpley throws it pretty effectively as well for the Bulldogs, according to senior linebacker Jack Sadowsky.

“You give Charlie the ball and he’s going to make a play,” said Sadowsky, an Iowa State recruit. “He’s a great athlete.”

Batavia's Charlie Whelpley gets tripped up by Yorkville's Gage Range after a big gain during a Class 7A state quarterfinal game in Batavia on Saturday, Nov. 12, 2022.

Whelpley didn’t score a point Saturday, but he did have an impact on each of the three scores his team had in a 17-6 victory over visiting Yorkville in a Class 7A state quarterfinal.

Prevailing in a titanic defensive struggle sends the 18th-seeded Bulldogs (9-3) to next week’s semifinal at 11th-seeded Lake Zurich (11-1), a 29-27 winner over Pekin.

“Getting short fields was huge,” Batavia coach Dennis Piron said. “We were playing mainly for field position. Yorkville is hard to score on. We haven’t seen a front four like that.

“Getting first downs late in the game were critical because they still had a shot. Whelpley had some really nice power runs there.”

But first, Whelpley began with three of his five receptions on the opening drive, the Bulldogs’ longest of the game, accounting for 30 of Batavia’s 69 yards.

Kicker Alec Crum’s 25-yard field goal capped the drive.

“Special teams, I thought, were really big,” Piron said. “They did block a punt on us. More power to them and their defense. That’s what they do.

“But I thought our kicking game was solid. Crum really buried them because our coverage made a difference in field position.”

Yorkville quarterback Michael Dopart gets pressured by Batavia's JP Chaney and Jordan Buckley during a Class 7A state quarterfinal game in Batavia on Saturday, Nov. 12, 2022.

Batavia’s special teams countered with two blocks.

The first, by senior linebacker and Wisconsin recruit Tyler Jansey, came on a Hudson Fiene’s extra-point kick after Gio Zeman’s 31-yard touchdown run gave the Foxes (10-2) a 6-3 lead in the second quarter.

Sadowsky blocked Fiene’s 39-yard field-goal attempt with 2:35 left in the third quarter.

“We saw something we thought was a weak point, and practiced Wednesday and Thursday on field goal blocks,” Sadowsky said. “It was supposed to be Jansey, but on the field goal, I happened to get through and smacked the ball.

“Not gonna lie, I pulled out my hand. It hurt.”

Whelpley had a 50-yard punt downed at the Foxes’ 5 late in the first half.

“Huge, huge play,” Piron said. “I’m a psycho. I’m burning my timeouts there, trying to take risks, but I didn’t want to go into the half playing it safe.”

Batavia's Tyler Jansey blocks an extra-point kick by Yorkville's Hudson Fiene during a Class 7A state quarterfinal game in Batavia on Saturday, Nov. 12, 2022.

His defense forced a three-and-out and benefited from Yorkville’s 13-yard punt into the wind, giving the Bulldogs the ball at the Foxes’ 26 with 53 seconds left.

Ryan Boe’s 10-yard TD pass to Luke Alwin with 10 seconds left gave Batavia the lead for good at 10-6.

Another three-and-out by the Foxes gave the Bulldogs the ball near midfield early in the third quarter.

For insurance, Whelpley’s 23-yard completion to Drew Gerke on a halfback option pass keyed a drive topped by Ryan Whitwell’s 3-yard TD run.

Whelpley has completed 5 of 7 passes this season. He has dropped seven punts inside the 20.

Yorkville's Gio Zeman is brought down by Batavia's Jack Sadowsky and Joey Barbush after a short gain during a Class 7A state quarterfinal game in Batavia on Saturday, Nov. 12, 2022.

“Short fields were huge,” Piron said.

Batavia’s defense had two interceptions. Sadowsky snared a ball near midfield that defensive lineman Jordan Buckley tipped. Gerke came up with the other.

Sophomore defensive back Luke Zook intercepted a pass for the Foxes.

“We needed to play a clean game and we needed to do that to win,” Yorkville coach Dan McGuire said. “Credit to them for forcing the turnovers they did.

“We’re not built to lose the turnover battle. We need to be on top and chip away and focus on field position, and we weren’t able to do that.”

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