JD Barchard’s first start of the season for NAIA Saint Xavier University’s football team seemed quite familiar.
While starting last weekend at one defensive end spot for the Cougars – the defending national champions from Chicago – the end on the opposite side of the line was fellow Crystal Lake South graduate Ryan Miles.
“Ryan and I talked about how having two starters from the same high school was pretty cool,” said Barchard, a sophomore. “When one of us would make a big play, we’d make the Gator chomp with our hands.”
Barchard, while subbing for injured starter Jimmy Sandling, made five tackles and forced a fumble in a 54-10 rout of Michigan’s Concordia University. He had 1.5 tackles for loss and was credited with two quarterback hurries and one pass breakup for SXU (7-1), which ranks No. 5 in the nation in this week’s NAIA poll.
The effort earned Barchard the Mid-States Football Association Mideast League Defensive Player of the Week honor.
“I was really surprised,” Barchard said. “The coaches asked me to step up. I got a lot more reps in practice last week. Hopefully, I showed them that I deserve a little more playing time and I’ll rotate in a little more.”
Barchard, who hopes to start on the line with Miles next season, has spent this season adjusting to being a down lineman.
“It’s a big change from playing linebacker in high school,” he said. “I’ve gotten a little more comfortable playing the position. I had a good off-season, and I haven’t been injured at all, which has helped.”
Against Concordia, JD’s brother, Brett, has four tackles as a reserve defensive lineman while Miles added two tackles.
The Gator contingent has helped make SXU’s defense impressively stingy.
The Cougars are allowing 15.1 points a game, which ranks No. 8 nationally. SXU allows 2.7 yards a carry on the ground and only 5.5 yards per pass play.
In eight games, the team has produced 25 turnovers and 20 sacks.
SXU plays its biggest game of the season today at 1 p.m. when it hosts top-ranked Marian University from Indiana.
Marian beat SXU in the regular season a year ago, but the Cougars pulled off a dramatic 30-27 win in Indianapolis in the semifinal round of the NAIA playoffs.
“There’s some history there,” Barchard said. “We’re a lot more focused this week. Practice is a lot more intense. We’re pretty excited.”
Cougar honoree Sherman: Freshman soccer midfielder Cassidy Sherman, a Jacobs grad, was named to the All-Ohio Valley Conference second team and the league’s All-Newcomer team this season.
Sherman has played in all 17 games this season for D-I SIU-Edwardsville, scoring a goal and tallying two assists for the Cougars (7-7-3).
Sherman’s goal was the game-winner for SIUE in a 1-0 victory Oct. 12 against OVC foe Murray State.
Petty paces Stars: Marian Central grad Kelly Petty, a junior women’s soccer forward at D-III Dominican University, was named to the All-Northern Athletics Conference second team this fall.
Petty was the leading scorer this season for the Stars (8-11) with 12 goals, five assists and 29 points.
Hawkeye happenings for Fiedorowicz: Iowa junior tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz has posted a career-high 24 receptions this fall for the Hawkeyes (4-4). The Johnsburg graduate also has a career-best 236 receiving yards this season.
Last season, Fiedorowicz had 16 receptions.
Good sport Lehnertz at Stout: Wisconsin-Stout junior tennis player Elizabeth Lehnertz was named to the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference All-Sportsmanship Team last month. Lehnertz played Nos. 4 and 5 singles and the top two doubles spots for Stout (3-9).
• Barry Bottino writes a weekly column and a blog about local college athletes for the Northwest Herald. Write to him at BarryOnCampus@hotmail.com, check out his On Campus blog at McHenryCountySports.com and follow him @BarryOnCampus on Twitter.