The Foresters had another impressive victory this weekend, beating the Knox Prairie Fire by a score of 35-6. While playing to win, the Foresters were also playing for another cause. Saturday marked the culmination of the Foresters’ support of Trick or Treat for the Troops, in which they collected supplies to send to servicemen and women in Iraq. Additionally, the Foresters welcomed a group from the training class at Great Lakes Naval Base to come and watch the game.
When asked why he thought the team was able to start off last Saturday’s game so well, Coach Cat said, “Defensively, I felt like we were really well prepared, and we were at our highest emotional level of the year to start the game. We had an opportunity to get five three and outs to start the game. That was an awesome thing to watch take place.
Offensively, I felt like we did a great job moving the ball. We had a few big plays in the passing game, despite not completing an overly high percentage of passes. In addition, we were running the ball with great success. Our tailbacks and quarterbacks were having some great success, as was evidenced by rushing for over 200 yards on the day. We just came off firing on all cylinders.
In addition, we had something that was possibly even greater for our team. We had BIG plays in the kicking game. Our 49-yard field goal by Dom Campagna was a big boost. No one on the other sideline thought we were really trying a field goal; they thought we were faking one. It was a big play, and I was glad to see Tim Gruzwalski come out and fire in a few additional field goals to help increase our lead even when we weren't scoring touchdowns. 12 points in the kicking game is a big day. Our special teams play was just as valuable in kickoffs and punts.”
Sophomore quarterback Pete Scaffidi and junior wide receiver Kevin Davis put together an impressive game, which greatly contributed to Saturday’s victory. On Scaffidi and Davis, Coach Cat commented, “They etched their names in the record books on Saturday. Kevin tying the individual game record for TD's, and Pete tying the record for thrown TD's in a game. These guys have been hooking up for a number of years since they were high school teammates at South Elgin. When Pete transferred in this year, you could see some comfort between the two of them. As a second teamer, Pete wasn't getting a lot of reps with Kevin, but when they had a chance, there was a natural rebirth of their chemistry. Beyond that, I think that Pete forces all of our wide receivers to maintain their focus. He has a unique ability to extend plays, and in doing so, he has created plays farther down the field than our wide out might expect.”
The defense also performed remarkably, holding Knox’s offense to just six points during the game. When asked who was the main contributor to the success of the defense, Coach Cat said, “There was no single player. It was a tremendous group effort. We had some players, Casey Flynn, Tanner Compton, Luke Butts, Eddie Dobernig, and Kenny Clady-Mason make big individual plays, but that doesn't take into consideration how some of our bench players like Jake Rotkvich, Michael Garetto-Balmer, and others made plays as well. It was truly our finest team defensive performance. We played with a determination that was unrelenting in its pursuit of the football. We always had multiple players in on the tackle. Our pass defense was pretty solid, as well. That is an area that has made leaps and bounds over the last few weeks. We had our hands on 10 total passes, including 2 interceptions.”
This week, I also had a chance to catch up with Coach Dodd, who helped bring the training class from Great Lakes Naval Base to Saturday’s game. A former Navy SEAL himself, Coach Dodd said, “They [the trainees] absolutely loved the game; it was something different and close by. An ironic fact is a college teammate of Coach Canty is in the training right now and attended the game. Of course, that means he was coached by Coach Catanzaro as well.”
When asked how the Foresters can become more involved with our local military community, Coach Dodd said, “To get more involved with the community is simple, we encourage them to explore and see different things as they travel throughout their careers. The other side of the partnership is for LFC students to visit the base and witness some of the training. Each base has a PAO, which is public affairs officer, or like Coach Cat does with his winner’s manual, he invites people from different aspects of the military to come speak to the athletes. I have extended offers to the players to visit and witness our training up here and that offer is certainly available to any student who would like to visit.”
It was a successful week for the Foresters, both on and off the field. Looking ahead to Saturday’s game against St. Norbert, Coach Cat said that he is looking for one thing—“A Forester victory. Plain and simple.” Here’s hoping that Coach Cat and the Foresters get that last victory.
--Elise Beckman, contributing author