Coffey’s play a key to Batavia’s 8-0 record
By Rick Armstrong email@example.com October 17, 2012 8:30PM
Batavia quarterback Micah Coffey has completed 61 percent of his passes with 15 touchdowns and only three interceptions. | Michele du Vair~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 19, 2012 3:02PM
That’s the answer to the biggest question facing the Batavia football team as it prepared to follow last year’s 12-1 run that ended in the IHSA Class 6A semifinals.
How will the transition from veteran quarterback Noel Gaspari to first-year varsity starter Micah Coffey go?
“I really didn’t know what to expect, there’s only so much you can get from summer workouts,” said Coffey, a 6-foot-2, 185 junior whose battle for the starting job with senior Daniel Albrecht wasn’t decided until a few days before the opener.
No ifs, ands or buts, things couldn’t have gone much better, starting with the 42-41 “upset” of touted Glenbard North. The Bulldogs are 8-0 heading into this week’s regular-season finale against 1-7 Elgin, where they look to lock up a second straight Upstate Eight River title.
“We knew coming out we had a great defense and were gonna have a balanced offense,” said Coffey. “But that game was a huge confidence boost for me.”
He’s put up big numbers, completing 61 percent of his passes (113-184) for 1,431 yards (178.9 per game) with 15 touchdowns. Maybe most impressive, though? He’s been intercepted just three times, or an area-best once in every 66.3 attempts.
“I don’t know if there’s a better quarterback in this part of the state,” said second-year Batavia coach Dennis Piron. “He is the whole package, a hard worker, student of the game and he’s very clear on what he’s trying to do.
“I couldn’t ask for a better kid to step in and follow Noel. ... He’s not just out there throwing the ball to people, he knows what’s up.”
Coffey is quick to credit Gaspari’s dad, Mike, the former Batavia head coach who continues to serve as QB coach and offensive coordinator in his “retirement.”
Mike Gaspari has “been great, being a former head coach. It’s huge to have him be the quarterback coach, too. He makes it easy to see things (on the field) and is amazing in helping you with film study.”
The admiration goes both ways.
“(Coffey’s) development is very much key to our success on the offensive side of the ball,” said Gaspari, who also pointed to the Glenbard North game as important in the QB’s development.
“I didn’t tell him this, but we knew we needed him to play well to compete with that team and he did. He’s really exceeded my expectations.”
He’s had help, Coffey, Gaspari and Piron are all quick to point out.
All-state wide receiver Zach Strittmatter (46 catches, 688 yards) is back for his senior season, the Bulldogs have a strong running game led by Anthony Scaccia (135-1,000 yards) and Anthony Thielk and a veteran line anchored by returning tackles Adam Hunger and Sebastian Vermaas and center Ben Link.
“They’ve been spectacular,” said Piron. “I think (Coffey) has only been sacked one time this season.”
It came late in the first half against Plainfield East as the Bulldogs were in a hurry up trying to beat the clock.
“(Coffey) has made wonderful decisions,” said Strittmatter. “Every game he does what we need him to do. He finds the open guy and makes smart throws that are easy to catch. He doesn’t force the ball into small windows.
“And the offensive line has been incredible. We watch film every Saturday morning. They get mad if he even gets touched.”